If these long-lost animals could talk, they’d have quite a story to tell. As it is, their adventures remain a mystery. But one thing their missing years and glorious reunions highlight is the importance of microchipping your pets so they can be accurately identified in case something goes wrong.
1. CLIVE // ONE YEAR
A Norwegian forest cat named Clive lived in Toton, Nottinghamshire, UK, with Tanya Irons and her family. That is, until he went missing in October 2014.
More than a year later, employees at the Kennelgate Pet Superstores warehouse started experiencing intruder alarms that seemed to trigger themselves. The workers began to suspect that a cat had gotten into the warehouse and was helping himself to the pet food. Even after they spotted Clive, it took some time to catch him. When they finally did, he was returned to his family after having been gone 16 months. They said he “smelled a bit” and had gained weight from his time in the warehouse.
2. KEVIN // TWO YEARS
Riverside County Department of Animal Services
A tabby named Kevin didn’t come home to Cheryl Walls of Anderson, South Carolina, one night in 2013. She waited for the cat, then searched, but eventually assumed he was gone for good. Two years later, a truck with a U-Haul trailer was stopped at the Arizona-California border for a routine agriculture check when the inspector heard a muffled meow from among the boxes. A cat had apparently stowed away in the trailer, and the driver had no clue how long he had been in there.
The trailer had traveled 2500 miles without being opened. The cat was taken to a shelter, where his microchip identified him. Walls was delighted to receive a call that Kevin had been found, but astonished that it was from southern California. Two animal organizations raised money to fund Kevin’s flight home to South Carolina.
3. ZEUS // TWO YEARS
Debi Petranck was heartbroken when her terrier Zeus escaped from her Ocala, Florida, backyard in August of 2014. She searched for him, posted flyers, and checked social media for leads, to no avail. In April of 2016, she got a call from the animal shelter in Dearborn, Michigan, who said they had Zeus. Petranck immediately drove over a thousand miles to fetch the dog.
It turns out that a man in Florida found Zeus on the street and took him in without checking for a microchip. The man eventually moved to Detroit and took the dog with him. Zeus escaped again there, and was picked up and taken to the shelter as a stray (where they, thankfully, checked the chip). “Everything’s just the way we left it," Petranck told CBS Detroit. "We’ve just picked right up where we were.”
4. WOOSIE // THREE YEARS
Woosie the cat went missing from Helen and Phillip Johns' home in Gover, Cornwall, UK, in 2011. As time went by, they thought they’d never see their cat again. But Woosie had just found greener pastures.
Three years after the cat had gone missing, the couple got a call from a vet who had found them using Woosie's microchip. The cat had been living in a pasty factory three miles away the entire time. The factory workers had been feeding him pasties and sandwiches, and had even renamed him George. Woosie was reunited with the Johns, who found him bedraggled and quite fat from his food factory years.
5. MARBLES // THREE YEARS
Sharon Johnson of Mackay, Queensland, Australia, lost her Marbles. Marbles, her white chinchilla cat, didn’t come home one day in 2013, and was not microchipped. Johnson posted flyers in the neighborhood and notices on social media, but got nowhere. That is, until 2016, when the local pound brought in a cat that resembled Marbles’s picture.
The cat was so dirty and matted that the family wasn’t completely sure it was him when they saw the picture on the local lost and found pets Facebook page. But the cat was found only a couple of streets away from their home, so they went to see it. It was indeed Marbles, who looked like himself again after a trip to the vet and the groomer. While his appearance led the Johnsons to believe he may have been a stray the entire three years, they also believe someone was feeding him, since he was in decent health.
6. BROWNIE // THREE YEARS
Ricardo Dominguez of Santa Teresa, New Mexico, loved his dog Brownie. The chocolate Lab went missing while under the care of others in 2013. Dominguez looked everywhere, and even suspected that someone had stolen the dog. That suspicion was bolstered when he spotted Brownie in a vehicle four months after going missing, but couldn’t turn his truck and trailer around fast enough to catch up to the other car.
Three years later, Brownie was picked up in Otay Mesa, California, and identified by the staff at San Diego County Animal Services. How Brownie ended up 720 miles away is anyone’s guess, but Dominguez wasted no time in driving to the city as soon as he heard the news. Brownie was reportedly ecstatic at seeing Dominguez again after so long.
7. CHIQUITO // FOUR YEARS
Chiquito the Chicago Chihuahua got lost on June 16, 2012. “It was just devastating for all of us, especially my daughter. It's her dog and she was really sad,” Gloria Martinez told WGN.
Fortunately, this past June, a stray dog was brought to the attention of Chicago policemen Eric Taylor and Nicholas Spacek. They took the dog to the police station, and the Animal Welfare League found Chiquito had a microchip. The Martinez family was notified, and they rushed down to the police station to fetch him. They will probably never know what he was up to during those four long years.
8. LEO // SIX YEARS
Allison and Bill Hinton lived in Hunt, Texas, in 2010 when their two dogs took off together. The other dog eventually came home, but their terrier mix, Leo, went missing. After several years of looking, the Hintons lost hope of ever seeing Leo again, especially after moving 1400 miles away to Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 2014.
But this summer, Allison’s mother received a call from Kerr County (Texas) Animal Services informing her that they had picked up a stray with a microchip identifying him as Leo. The dog was infested with fleas and had a skin condition. Allison, who traveled back to Texas to get Leo, told Michigan Live: "He was one of our favorite little dogs, he had a funny personality and was really sweet," before heading to the store to buy his favorite treat: cherries.
9. CORKY // SEVEN YEARS
Jimmy Montez and his family lived in Boyd, Texas, in 2009 when they lost their young dog Corky. They searched for him for six months. This July, they got a call from the Humane Society in Fort Worth that they’d picked up two dogs; they had found the Montez family through Corky’s microchip. The Montez family had moved 30 miles to Fort Worth while Corky was missing, so they went right to the shelter. They were overjoyed to see Corky again.
However, Corky was obviously bonded to the other dog he was picked up with. That dog, who the shelter named Captain, did not have a microchip, so the Montezes decided to adopt him. Now Corky and his friend have a permanent home together.
10. MOON UNIT // EIGHT YEARS
A cat name Moon Unit not only left home but fled the country as well. Marna Gillian and Sean Purdy rang in 2008 with a New Year's Eve party at their home in London. Sometime during the night, Moon Unit slipped away from the house and wasn’t seen again for over eight years.
This summer, the cat was picked up as a stray in the streets of Paris. The French animal rescue group ADAD took the cat in and identified her as a UK pet, thanks to her microchip. Gillian was shocked to receive an email from ADAD about Moon Unit, speculating that the cat must have arrived in France as a stowaway—if she had been taken there legally, her microchip would have been scanned as she entered the country. Gillian and Purdy, who no longer live together, reunited for a trip to Paris to collect Moon Unit.
11. SMELLY // EIGHT YEARS
Kathleen Crichton of Orlando, Florida, lost her 8-year-old cat Smelly in 2008. At the time, she had three cats and a dog. By 2016, Crichton had three sons and a fish. Just last month, she got a phone call from a veterinarian in Gainesville who identified Smelly by his microchip. Crichton made the two-hour trip to get the cat, and found him as feisty as ever at 16 years old. The clinic told her someone had brought him in as a stray, but no one knows how he got to Gainesville.
12. BOOZER // NINE YEARS
In 2006, Lloyd Goldston and his family moved from Tennessee to Alabama, and in the process lost their one-year-old boxer named Boozer. In August of last year, a family in Colorado turned their dog in to a shelter because they could no longer care for him. They had adopted the dog from a boxer rescue group in Tennessee years earlier.
The Foothills Animal Shelter in Golden said that the Tennessee rescue should have checked for a microchip, but they scanned the dog anyway to make sure. They found him registered to Goldston, who drove 18 hours to Colorado along with his children Megan and Will for a joyous reunion. Boozer is a naturally friendly dog, but after about 15 seconds, he became more excited than ever as he recognized his family after nine years, according to shelter representative Jennifer Strickland. That’s a good dog.
13. CHARLIE // 10 YEARS
Tracey Dove of Cullman, Alabama, found her dog enclosure had been broken into one day in 2006, and her one-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer named Charlie was gone. Ten years later, an animal shelter received a report of a stray dog that had been hanging around the Damascus Assembly of God church in Brewton, Alabama, for three days. The shelter's Rescue director Renee Jones took the dog to a veterinarian, who found his microchip.
Even microchipped animals can be hard to identify after so many years, but Dove had updated her address with the microchip company when the family moved, on the off chance Charlie would be found. And he was, almost 250 miles away. Dove was speechless when she heard the news. Charlie was in poor health, and had a mass on his side that needed to be removed before he could travel, which led Dove to think that someone discarded the dog because of his illness.
14. MISTY // 11 YEARS
Misty was only two years old when she didn’t come home to her family in Portland, Oregon, in 2005. Dean McCrea and Meredith Warren had heard about a coyote in the neighborhood that had killed a cat, and over time assumed that Misty had been its victim. But this past summer, they got a call from the Multnomah County Animal Shelter that their cat had been identified by her microchip. Misty was reunited with her family after 11 years, and recognized everyone right off. Warren said she doesn’t seem stressed and appears well-fed, so they think she may have been living with another family all that time.
15. SHELBY // 13 YEARS
Shelby the cat went missing from her home in Geelong, Australia, in 2001. In 2014, Paula Harper-Adams found a stray cat at her front doorstep that had dirty, matted fur and was covered in lice. The more Harper-Adams looked at the cat, the more it reminded her of the cat she lost 13 years earlier. She took the stray to the vet's office, along with a picture of Shelby, and the veterinarian confirmed that yes, this was Shelby, much older, but still the same cat. No one knows where Shelby went for 13 years, but she knew where to find her home more than a decade after being away.