Submitted by Ruthie Thompson-Klein for Lopez Animal Protection Society
Do you remember the missing cat whose furry face was plastered on posters all over Lopez Island and appeared on lopezrocks.org for more than a year? This is Walter’s story, a story about caring island volunteers who never gave up and the wonders of microchips.
In mid-December 2017, Lopez Animal Protection Society got a call from Seattle resident Marissa who reported her cat leaped out of her car at the ferry landing. She tried to catch him and missed the ferry sailing to Anacortes. LAPS secretary Elaine McDaniel grabbed a live trap and headed to the ferry landing. Marissa showed a picture of Walter: dark gray and white and weighing about 16 pounds. He had run into the woods. McDaniel helped Marissa call and search, then set a trap with food, promising to check it later that night and first thing in the morning.
No sign of Walter for months. LAPS asked people who live along Ferry Road to be on the lookout. Marissa posted “Walter” notices all over the island. Linda Zerbst, LAPS vice-president, put his picture and story on the LAPS website, renewing those postings for months.
By spring 2018, LAPS was getting reports of gray-and-white cat sightings near the Ferry Road/Port Stanley Road intersection, usually at dusk. LAPS volunteers traveled there several times, calling and setting a trap again. Still no sign.
Kay Berg, who lives on Port Stanley Road, thought she saw Walter in August but he didn’t come near. This past winter a neighbor of Berg said a cat matching Walter’s description was hanging out in their greenhouse-barn. He was only there at night, and it was hard to tell whether he was black or gray with white.
Spring 2019: Berg called Jan Albrecht, LAPS president; she thought Walter was hanging around her house, and she began feeding him and fixed him a bed. He gradually showed up several times a day and eventually would enter the house for a short time. Berg sent Albrecht pictures of this ‘stray’ cat and Albrecht, too, thought it was Walter. LAPS called Marissa but didn’t get a response for several days. Marissa was very cautious and didn’t want heartbreak and disappointment again. There had been a previous “wrong cat” false alarm.
Albrecht asked Berg to send close-up photos of Walter for comparison. The details were identical. LAPS spoke with Marissa again and this time she mentioned that Walter was microchipped! Elaine rushed to Berg’s house with a chip scanner and showed her how to use it. Marissa found Walter’s microchip registration number, and when Walter showed up for his afternoon feeding, she scanned him—it was a match.
What a happy day for everyone. Marissa arrived two days later, calling to Walter when she arrived. His ears perked up and he headed toward the sound of her voice.
Many caring islanders played a part in Walter’s homecoming. They never gave up. This is just one example of how Lopez Animal Protection Society reunites islanders with their lost pets. Microchipping can ensure fast and accurate identification! Keep an eye on your pet this summer, but if you get separated contact LAPS by phone 360-298-WAGS(9247), email firstname.lastname@example.org or www.lopezanimals.org.