Fact: If I can’t find something on the Internet, it doesn’t exist.
Evidence: My mad web-searching skills helped reunite a lost cat with her owner.
The adorable kitty in the picture above walked out from underneath my car a couple nights ago and communicated its intent to reside in my house for a little while. I had to go out of town for the weekend so I put her in a bedroom with all the cat necessities and posted messages to our neighborhood listserv before I left. While I was away, my husband put up some posters with Mystery Kitty’s pic on it to let people know we found her. We didn’t receive a single phone call.
When I returned, I took Mystery Kitty straight to the vet to see if she was microchipped. Hallelujah! She was!
Not so fast! said the vet’s assistant. The microchip wasn’t registered to any owner and was put in by the animal shelter a couple years ago.
Off to the shelter we went. I won’t comment on the traumatizing experience of walking into that building and witnessing people abandoning their animals in front of my eyes.
The friendly volunteers who work there looked up the microchip data and found a phone number, which turned out to be disconnected. After I filled out a Request for Information Form (legalese for Cover Your Derriere), they gave me the registered owner’s full name and her last address. An apartment. What are the odds of the person still living there?
I went back to my car with Mystery Kitty and pulled out THE INTERNET.
Googled the owner’s name (along with location data etc). That person is almost invisible on the interwebs… but she left a trail: a 2009 online wedding registry! With a gentleman’s name on it too. Made the wild assumption she took his name. His very common last name. Common last names are the invisibility cloaks of the internet.
I shifted from searching-for-people mode to searching-for-address-mode and made my way to the Travis County Central Appraisal District’s website to search for properties by owner’s name. Entered all sorts of combinations (his last her first, her last her first, his last his first) until I found a home registered to “his first her first his last”. With the help of Google maps, I was there 20 minutes later (quite a ways from where I found the cat). Nobody was home. Left a note on the door with my contact info.
Several hours later, I got a phone call – turns out the registered owner gave away the cat two years ago. She got a hold of the current owner and his roommate came to pick up “Yen” (the cat’s actual name) shortly after.
Long live the Internet!