While walking from the parking lot into Home Depot to look for a garage door opener, Jessica and her daughter Jasmine didn’t know they were about to save a life and make a pet owner very happy.

That is, however, exactly what happened. Out of nowhere, they heard the sound of a feline in distress.

The crying was coming from under a car they were passing. When they stopped to take a closer look, they found that the cat had somehow managed to lodge himself in the car’s wheel well.

With a lot of heart and much effort, they were able to maneuver him around and free him from the dangerous and frightening situation.

This was a very gentle cat and thankfully didn’t panic, even when they wiped the grease away and checked him over.

After leaving a note on the windshield, in case the cat belonged to the owner of the car, Jessica, Jasmine and the rescued kitty headed for Suncoast Humane Society.

Suncoast Humane Society’s intake specialist Kelly immediately checked the shelter’s lost-and-found list. She saw a picture of a lost cat that looked a lot like the one that had just been rescued.

Even though the report showed the cat lived several miles from Home Depot, Kelly left no stone unturned.

She called the missing cat’s owner, Debra, explaining that this may be Noah. At first Debra thought this would be too good to be true, because the rescued cat was found too far from her home to really be Noah.

At the urging of Kelly, and later, a Facebook friend who had read of Noah’s disappearance, Debra took the chance and came to Suncoast Humane Society.

At first glance it was obvious that Debra and Noah were family, and that Noah would be going back home.

How did Noah get in the car’s wheel well? Whose car? How did he survive the ride to Home Depot? Who knows?

We do know that Noah survived one heck of an adventure, and is home safely, where he belongs. Suncoast Humane Society along with other animal care and control agencies receive calls each day from people whose pets have become lost.

We know there are also many pet owners who have no idea what to do if their pet goes missing. This is apparent because of the number of lost pets that are never reclaimed. Many of these have been spayed/neutered, are wearing collars, and look like they just jumped off someone’s couch. We know they belong to someone.

It can be confusing in our area if you lose your pet, because of the demographics. You’ll want to start by filing a lost report with Animal Services in Sarasota County, and Animal Control in Charlotte County. Both agencies have officers who pick up stray pets.

You should also contact Suncoast Humane Society and the Animal Welfare League, who receive lost pets. If your pet does not return home almost immediately, you should also go to the shelters and look yourself. The pet you have tried to describe does not always match what shelter personnel are seeing. Describing some mixed breeds can be tricky. Take a recent photo with you for the shelter to keep on file.

There are also rescue groups and adoption agencies in both counties where someone may turn in your pet. The Humane Societies and Animal Control agencies should have lists of those groups that are known.

Search the neighborhood completely, several times each day. Talk with neighbors, mail carriers, and delivery drivers. Hand out recent photographs of your pet and leave proper contact information.

Advertise by posting notices at grocery stores, community centers, veterinary offices, intersections, and pet supply stores. Place a notice in the newspapers and with radio stations. Describe your pet to the best of your ability. Remember the internet and the websites of the shelters that list pets they have found.

Beware of pet recovery scams and people that want money to return your pet. Contact the proper authorities if you become suspicious, especially if you have proof that your pet has been stolen.

It is tragic to note that only 2 percent of felines and only 15-20 percent of canines are ever reclaimed from animal shelters by their owners. If you are lucky enough to be reunited with your pet, learn from it.

Keep your pet indoors and confined or watched when outdoors. Keep proper identification on him/her, including a microchip. It is so much better to be prepared and to avoid the trauma of a lost pet.

To learn more about Suncoast Humane Society, please visit us at www.humane.org.

Phil Snyder is executive director of the Suncoast Humane Society. Email him at philsnyder@humane.org.

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