READSBORO>> How a lost cat from Readsboro turned up on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Mass., is unknown.
Fran Hendricks adopted Boxer the cat on Nov. 20 from Second Chance Animal Shelter in Shaftsbury and he escaped on Dec. 18 through a dog door. After losing hope in locating her furry friend, Hendricks assumed Boxer was gone for good.
"I thought he was dead," Hendricks said. "I felt so bad, it was terrible."
Boxer was discovered by Oak Bluff's Animal Control officer Anthony BenDavid who took the cat in and found that he was embedded with a chip. After contacting the microchip company SmartChip, BenDavid was confused because the company had Boxer filed as a dog from Alabama.
On Monday, Shona Ross, director of shelter operations for Second Chance Animal Shelter, received an email from SmartChip, regarding Boxer. She then reached out to Hendricks to reveal the good news.
"I couldn't believe it. I was stunned! I was like I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy," Hendricks said. "I had a few Powerball tickets and said this is way better than winning that."
Ross said that no animal leaves Second Chance without a chip, a practice adopted in 2013 in an effort to cut down on outdoor cats being mistaken for strays.
"We've had a few [cats] that have gone missing and we track them down. All cats and dogs now are microchipped and go through a program," Ross said. "We offer people a microchip for their cats as well to cut down on the cat overpopulation problem, strays are people's outdoor cats. We want every cat to go back to its real home."
Two-year-old Boxer, a calm and quiet black cat with an injured eye, traveled more than 200 miles including part of the Nantucket Sound. All involved were baffled as to how he made the journey.
"All day Monday in the office we were saying, 'what the heck, how did he get on an island?'" Ross said, laughing. "If people see this story, whoever picked him up, could fill in the steps of how he got to the island."
Boxer got his name from Second Chance because his condo was in the lobby as a greeter where he batted at people who walked by. Hendricks hasn't decided if she'll change his name, but is working with a combination of Boxer and Big Boy. She also has a small dog she adopted named Little Man and another cat named Charlie who was adopted with Boxer from Second Chance. Little Man is a part of Therapy Dog of Vermont and occasionally makes visits to local clinics. Both cats have a microchip and Hendricks says she'll never get another pet without one.
Ross said that Boxer's injured eye is due to his tear duct adhering to his eyeball and causing it to scar. It doesn't affect his eyesight, but may have deterred people from adopting him earlier than he was, she said. Hendricks admire's Boxer's personality and how well him and Little Man play together. In the past, she's owned three dogs and four cats and moved to Readsboro from New York City in 1994.
On her way back from Martha's Vineyard, where she has never visited before, Hendricks rolled her vehicle during a snowstorm only five minutes from her home. Little Man, Boxer and herself made it out safely, but now Hendricks is without a car.
"I gradually just lost visibility it was snowing so badly," Hendricks said. "We were almost home."
Hendricks said that Boxer remained in the carrier unphased and while waiting at the Fire Station, people walking by didn't even know a cat was in the crate. She doesn't plan on getting another pet anytime soon, but is grateful she was able to retrieve Boxer.
In an attempt to understand Boxer's cross-state adventure, Hendricks wishes to speak to her neighbors who may vacation or have family or friends who vacation at Martha's Vineyard and could have accidentally brought Boxer along with them around the holidays.