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 So Cal cat missing 12 years reunited with family now living in WA 

Riverside County Department of Animal Services Animal Technician Alison Chavez holding Butters, a large grey striped cat

Tue, 10/10/2023 - 05:00

It’s not uncommon for work to follow our animal control officers home. And that is precisely what happened when Riverside County Animal Control Officer Dalton Churchwell noticed a cat roaming around his backyard on Oct. 1 in Blythe. He managed to catch the cat and scan it for a microchip. 

The scan showed the cat had gone missing in 2011 from his home in San Diego. Officer Churchwell took a chance and called the owners who were ecstatic to learn that Butters had been found. 

“It was just unbelievable. I’m so grateful to Officer Churchwell to have Butters identified. The officer just really went out of his way. You know, he did this on a Sunday night, on his time off,” said Angelo Castellino, Butters' owner. 

How Butters ended up in Blythe, Castellino said he can’t imagine; however, he noted that Butters was always an adventurous cat. 

Angelo and his wife Shelley, who now live in Stanwood, WA were anxious to have Butters back home with his brother Barnacles, but distance was an issue. 

Upon hearing the story, The ASK Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to the support, education and communication of programs that support the Department of Animal Services, stepped up and offered to fund the cost of a flight to Seattle that saw Butters safely returned to his family. 

Butters’ reunion happened when Riverside County Department of Animal Services’ 10-year volunteer Larry Rudolph personally delivered Butters to the Castellanos in Seattle on Saturday, Oct. 7. 

“We were thrilled to work with the Department of Animal Services to make this reunion possible,” said Carolyn Badger, president, ASK Foundation. “It was such a wonderful story and we are very happy to know that Butters is home and safe with his family.”

Butters’ story would not have been possible without the efforts of many who are committed to the health and safety of animals, including Animal Samaritans, an animal welfare organization that serves pets in the desert communities of Riverside County. 

“Animal Samaritans has had a long-standing partnership with the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in serving pets and people in Riverside County. We were happy to provide the health examination and certificate that cleared Butters for travel to reunite with his owner,” said Jarred Ellis, director of development and philanthropy, Animal Samaritans. 

The experience is a testament to dedication and teamwork, but also an important reminder to microchip your pet to ensure its return should it become lost. 

According to Joshua Dirso, customer service manager, microchip company AVID Identification Systems Inc.: “Keeping your pet's contact information up-to-date is like having a VIP pass for peace of mind. If your pet ever decides to go on an adventure without you, updated contact information ensures that whoever finds them can quickly reach out and bring them back home. It's the key to a speedy reunion and makes sure your furry buddy is never too far away. Think of it as a little effort that goes a long way in keeping tails wagging and hearts happy.” 

Be sure your pet’s microchip information is current by clicking here. 

Riverside County Department of Animal Services 6851 Van Buren Blvd, Jurupa Valley, CA 92509 Phone (951) 358-7387 FAX (951) 358-7300 TDD (951) 358-5124