Striped tabby cat Sheba spent a day outside this past April and didn’t come home. Tragedy struck Sheba’s family a day or so later when well-meaning neighbors told Sheba’s family, the Berrys, that Sheba had been hit by a car. They offered a bag of kitty remains to Lisa Berry, who was shocked and didn’t look inside the bag. Lisa told Steamboat Pilot that she simply assumed that it must be Sheba. She and the Berry family began mourning their kitty. Sheba had been with Lisa for 13 years and losing her was more than tough. It was tragic.
It took a few months, but Lisa finally felt ready to donate Sheba’s things to the Routt County Humane Society. She gathered Sheba’s remaining cat food, bowls, and litter box and took them to the shelter. But then, the most amazing thing happened. Lisa was waiting to speak to the receptionist when she saw a photo of a cat named Abigail who was available for adoption. Abigail was described as having a thyroid condition and she was estimated to be about 5 years old. Abigail had been living at the Humane Society for about four months. Lisa looked at the photo of Abigail and she was convinced that Abigail looked like Sheba. It troubled her so much that she just dropped off her donations and left the shelter.
Lisa said she felt “a little bit freaked out”. But, instead of letting it drop, she called the shelter to ask if Abigail had a microchip and she questioned whether Abigail’s age was truly 5 years old. When a staff member returned her call, Lisa said that she thought “Abigail” was Sheba; who had been thought dead for about the same length of time Abigail had been at the shelter. The shelter staff investigated and discovered that Abigail did have a chip, but it was outdated. The shelter had called Lisa’s phone number in Florida, where she had once lived, but the number was no longer in service. That allowed Lisa to confirm that “Abigail” was indeed Sheba. The reunion was a joyful time. Lisa gladly adopted Sheba from the shelter.
Sheba’s story made the rounds of Routt County Humane Society supporters on Facebook and in the news, providing a reminder that everyone who has a “furry friend” like Sheba should be certain to implant a microchip and make sure that it is kept up to date. Sheba’s microchip helped shelter staff to put Sheba back into Lisa’s arms. More than 400 Facebook posts congratulated Lisa for never giving up once she spotted “Abigail’s” photo and celebrated the truly incredible story that led to the happy reunion.
When Mikhaila Hobbs, Shelter Manager, was interviewed for Steamboat Pilot, she said that the shelter staff were sad for the cat they lovingly named Abigail because Abigail had been at the shelter for a long time and had a few health issues. When Lisa arrived to claim Sheba and tell the staff that “Abigail” was actually Sheba, the staff were thrilled. They felt that it was the best story they had every heard. Such a wonderful, “super, heartwarming” surprise!
Hobbs stated that about 90% of pets are reunited with their true owners when they arrive at the Steamboat Springs Humane Society. She said that pets separated from their owners are reunited a few times each year; even when they have gone missing for months. Lisa Berry said that Sheba’s story was “crazy” and “weird”. She was stunned that Sheba, an older “grandma age” cat, had survived and been found.
It’s not surprising that the Routt County Humane Society is so successful with pets like Sheba. The shelter has established many fundraisers which promote community throughout the Steamboat Springs area. This past summer, the shelter harnessed the skills of local artists to design and decorate fiberglass dog and cat statues to display at local businesses. “Fostering” the statues benefits not only the shelter with greater awareness of its goals but also provides a collaborative effort which acknowledges the artists’ work as well. According to Cary Rentola, development manager for the Humane Society, the Gimme Shelter statues inspire smiles throughout the summer. Then, they are auctioned at the Gimme Shelter Gala later in the year. Fundraisers such as this help the shelter to care for hundreds of animals each year. Sheba was one of more than 700 animals helped so far in 2019.
Routt County Humane Society also has a great sense of fundraising humor. On October 5th, 2019 the 13th Annual Steamboat Springs Mustache Ride took place to benefit the shelter. At this charity fundraiser, mustaches are mandatory. Described as a pub crawl and rolling costume party, the Mustache Ride gives everyone a chance to grab their bicycles, put on their mustaches and ride to raise money for the shelter. It’s a wacky, one of a kind fundraiser that brings people who love animals and want to support them. Riders must be 21 years of age to participate and the licensed sponsor bars are responsible for all drinks served at their locations. All monies to participate in the Mustache Ride are donations to the Routt County Humane Society.
Now that Sheba is back at home with Lisa and the Berry family, her thyroid condition is being treated. Lisa says that Sheba has hyperthyroidism and tends to follow Lisa wherever she goes in the house. Sheba sleeps on Lisa’s bed and will even follow Lisa into the bathroom. Lisa takes it in stride because she “thinks that Sheba feels as if she doesn’t want to be lost again”.
Sheba was found by one of the best places possible, because Humane Society shelters are dedicated to helping stray pets find their owners. Sheba was lucky that she was microchipped, too. Shelter Manager Hobbs recommends that owners avoid letting pets roam free, have them licensed every year, keep the license tag on their collar, and always be certain the microchip is registered and kept up to date. Registering in the microchip database is free at foundanimals.org and free to use and update. Cats should be kept indoors, on a leash or in an outdoor encloser to protect them from wild animals. Cats are notorious for stalking neighbors bird feeders, marking territory, chasing after migrating birds, and digging in gardens. Luckily for Sheba, when she had that one free day outside, which turned into the unfortunate months thought dead, Lisa discovered her once more.