By JON HAWORTH, ABC News
(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) — A pet cat who was thought to have died along with her owner in the massive Southern California mudslides in January 2018 that killed 23 people has been miraculously found three years later less than a quarter of a mile away from her home.
The Animal Shelter Assistance Program (ASAP) in Santa Barbara, California, shared the story on social media saying that Patches, a calico cat, initially disappeared on the night of the Montecito debris flow which happened early in the morning on Jan. 9, 2018.
Patches had been missing since the tragic event that ended up killing a total of 23 people.
The devastation of the mudslides was so extensive that more than 100 homes were destroyed and over 300 more were damaged, according to the Los Angeles Times. Two of the victims who were killed in the mudslides were never found.
Patches belonged to Josie Gower, who was one of the victims of the Montecito debris flow, and Norm Borgatello, who survived the incident, and had been missing ever since — until a stray cat was brought into ASAP last month.
“It was a shock to discover, upon scanning her microchip, that she was, in fact, the long lost Patches,” ASAP said in a statement on social media. “Josie and her partner Norm (who miraculously survived that fateful night) were long-time supporters of ASAP, and when we discovered that Patches’ microchip was registered in Josie’s name, we were able to contact their family and facilitate a reunion no one thought possible.”
According to the shelter, Borgatello had absolutely no idea that Patches was still alive until ASAP contacted him.
“[Borgatello] was overwhelmed when he came to pick her up on New Year’s Eve, as though he’d seen a ghost. And in a way, it was almost like he had,” said ASAP.
Even more uncanny was the fact that Patches was discovered less than a quarter mile away from her original home in Montecito.
ASAP said it is unclear what Patches had been doing over the past three years since her disappearance but that it was clear both Patches and Borgatello were thrilled to be reunited with each other.
Said ASAP: “We are so grateful that, with the support of our amazing community, not only are we able to save lives, but we are often able to help these special reunions happen. As we see time and time again, a lost cat with a microchip has a much greater chance of being reunited with their family… no matter how, or for how long, they’ve been separated.”
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