It had been six months. Six months of waiting. Six months of hoping that any day now, their beloved cat, Berkeley, would be returned to them.
On May 16, 2021, the O’Shea family moved out of their Madison home, intending to drive their RV across the country to their new house on the Pacific Coast. While the family was staying at Lake Farm County Park in Madison en route to their new home, Berkeley bolted out of the RV. They searched the area but were unable to find him.
Amy O’Shea remained hopeful that Berkeley, age 11, would be found. She left his carrier and some cat care items with close friend Kirsten Johnson. Amy also filed a missing cat report with Dane County Humane Society (DCHS). Every day, DCHS staff and volunteers cross check missing pet reports with found pet reports and strays brought into the shelter. With these efforts, one in six lost cats were reunited with their loving families in 2021, which is three times the national average.
But days became weeks, which turned into months, and still no Berkeley.
One day in the fall, Amy dreamt about Berkeley. He was in a home, but it wasn’t the family’s home. When she awoke, Amy says she felt relieved and thought maybe it was time to let him go.
But this mischievous kitty had other plans! Berkeley found his way into a storage compartment of another RV that had stayed at Lake Farm County Park. Imagine the surprise of finding this friendly guy in your RV during a pit stop in DeForest!
The family who found him called Animal Services, which sent an officer who scanned for a microchip. Fortunately, Berkeley was microchipped. Unfortunately, Berkeley’s microchip was still linked to his first owner. But Berkeley’s first owner remembered him fondly and gladly joined Team Berkeley. While his first owner searched for his current owner’s info, Berkeley was brought to DCHS where he could receive comfort and veterinary care.
Berkeley’s first owner found what he needed and reached out to Amy for permission to share her contact info with DCHS.
“It’s been so wonderful to connect with his first owner,” says Amy, adding he shared stories with her of Berkeley as a kitten.
To further confirm Berkeley’s identity, Amy sent photos of him to DCHS. The photos showed an 18-pound Berkeley. The cat brought to the shelter weighed just over seven pounds. Berkeley had lost more than half of his body weight!
DCHS veterinarians recommended Berkeley be allowed to recuperate before making the trek to his family’s new home in Washington, and a plan was concocted to get him there.
When Kirsten brought Berkeley’s carrier to DCHS, he must have smelled the scent of his family on the bedding inside because he jumped in. Kirsten took Berkeley to his first owner, who had arranged for a friend to provide steady care. Two weeks later, Berkeley had gained over a pound and was cleared for takeoff.
On November 24, Kirsten flew with Berkeley from Milwaukee to Minneapolis to Seattle. They continued by car and ferry, arriving at Berkeley’s family’s home just in time for Thanksgiving.
Three months later, Berkeley was doing great! “It definitely seems like he knows he is somewhere new,” Amy said in early February. “I can tell in the way that he sniffs the air.”
Berkeley’s family has been spoiling him since his return. By early February, he was up to 11.5 pounds!
Amy says she is thankful to everyone who helped Berkeley. “It was a team effort,” she adds. “He’s settled right back in, and it’s almost as if he was never gone.”
DCHS is so proud to have been a part of Team Berkeley. Go Team Berkeley!
Lisa Bernard is the Public Relations Coordinator for DCHS.
2021 Annual Report