A Hough neighborhood cat who was missing for seven weeks after being taken from his back porch, sparking community outrage and an outpouring of support, has been reunited with his family.
Jack the cat was returned home Wednesday, according to I Paw’d It Forward, a local nonprofit that took over the search. A Facebook post in June by the cat’s owner, Nora Syverson, had included home surveillance video of the alleged theft, causing a stir on social media along with numerous phone calls and emails to police.
“We are so thankful to Keri-Lyn at I Paw’d It Forward and to every single person that followed Jack’s story and rooted for him to make it home,” Syverson wrote Wednesday on Facebook. “He was missing for seven long weeks, and the joy we feel after being reunited is indescribable. We were losing hope he was still alive, but somehow he’s made it through this ordeal. We’re happily catching up on seven weeks of lost snuggles and setting a vet appointment so we can safely get him healthy again. Thank you everyone for your help and support!”
Jack was taken at 8:18 p.m. June 5 from his back porch near Columbia and 20th streets, Syverson said. The surveillance video shows a boy following Jack to the porch and petting him before picking him up and walking away.
Police later located and interviewed the boy, 14, who matched the description of the person in the video, Vancouver Police Department spokeswoman Kim Kapp previously told The Columbian. The boy told police Jack looked friendly, Kapp said, prompting him to pick up the cat and carry him a few blocks before setting him down.
Police referred charges of third-degree theft and second-degree criminal trespass, both misdemeanors, to the Clark County Juvenile Justice Center. Cats are considered property under Washington law.
In a Facebook post Thursday, I Paw’d It Forward said the case was referred to the juvenile diversion program.
Jack’s disappearance prompted the Facebook page Justice for Jack the Cat, a reward fund that reached $3,583.84, hundreds of comments and shares online, and even Jack fan art. An online petition calling for pet theft in Washington to be a felony had garnered 53,694 supporters as of early Thursday afternoon. The petition, which aims to get 55,000 signatures, was started by Kona Alert for Stolen Pets in Oregon on behalf of I Paw’d It Forward.
In a follow up to Jack’s rescue, I Paw’d It Forward said it had received a message several days ago from a woman asking if Jack was still missing. The woman said, “So, I don’t want to get your hopes up or anything, but I feed a cat every night that looks just like Jack.”
The woman, who is homeless, told the nonprofit she found a cat in a field where she was camped and had been feeding him since at least July 1. She did not realize it could be Jack until she received a flier about his disappearance.
“It took a few days to coordinate searching the location because she had been asked to leave the field by (the Vancouver Police Department) for camping not long after reaching out to us,” I Paw’d It Forward wrote on Facebook. “She went back every night to feed this kitty.”
The woman shared a photo of the cat with I Paw’d It Forward, which confirmed it was Jack.
Shortly before 2 p.m. Wednesday, I Paw’d It Forward contacted Syverson, and her husband, Reid, with the news. The Syversons with I Paw’d It Forward went to the field, about a mile from the couple’s home, to find Jack. He eventually popped out of some blackberry bushes but ran back into the brambles.
“Jack was too scared to come near and had visibly lost quite a bit of weight,” according to I Paw’d It Forward, so they set a trap and waited. “Within minutes, he walked right into the trap mesmerized by the smell of the food. … He was so relieved to be caught.
“Thank you to everyone in the community for coming together to bring Jack home. He is loved. He was missed. He is now getting all the snuggles he can handle,” I Paw’d It Forward wrote. “Most of all, thank you to the brave woman that risked losing her place to sleep, on the off chance it could be Reid and Nora’s beloved Jack. She did not want the reward, but we are forcing it upon her. She deserves it.”
A GoFundMe account has also been created for the woman.
Following news of Jack’s return, community members took to Facebook to share their relief.
One commenter said: “A lot of us had, by now, tucked hope for Jack’s survival into that tiny little place in our hearts reserved for miracles. What stunningly wonderful news!”
Another said she had been following Jack’s story from Wales: “…to wake up this morning and see this has made my day. Looking froward to the story. Give Jack a hug from me.”