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Missing cat reunites with owners in Thousand Palms

A cat and his owners were reunited Saturday at the Coachella Valley Animal Campus after the animal had been missing since April.

Kim Salls and her wife Jill MacDonald, who live in St. Louis, Missouri, were visiting a home they own in Rancho Mirage with their two cats, two English bulldogs and a Brussels griffon when one of their cats, 3-year-old Dale Dragon, went missing on April 10, according to the Riverside County Department of Animal Services.

The Rancho Mirage home has a backyard with 6-foot walls, so the couple believed their pets were safe and secure. However, Salls said she believed the irrigation system came on and scared Dale so much that he leaped over the wall.

“We went everywhere looking for him,” Salls said. “We posted signs on our street. We posted signs on other streets,” she added.    

Salls and MacDonald wanted to continue their search for Dale, but MacDonald needed to return to Missouri for another round of chemotherapy for her Stage 4 cancer.

On May 11, Dale showed up at the Rancho Mirage home of Max Zien and Jilli Joffee, who offered him water after he ran up and climbed Joffee’s leg.    

“He was so sweet and nice and friendly,” Joffee said.

The couple thought the cat belonged to someone nearby, so Joffee left him to roam back to his home, but he showed up again a week later and started making camp in their backyard, shelter officials said.    

On June 4, the couple decided to take Dale to the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms where they discovered his microchip information and contacted the chip company.    

An employee at the CVAC asked Zien and Joffee if the cat could remain in their care until the owner could be contacted and a reunion could take place, to which the couple agreed.

“Even our three dogs loved him. So happy to hear he’s being reunited with his family,” Joffee added.

Riverside County Animal Services officials say the couple’s willingness to help highlights the importance of the Pet Support program, which started in June 2023 and involves the county providing resources for those who need assistance to prevent a pet surrender, and community members helping the county, such as Zien and Joffee.

Approximately 6,000 pets have been diverted from the county’s shelters thanks to community members helping and the county staff providing pet owners with resources, officials said.

Salls and MacDonald said they look forward to fattening up Dale Dragon after seeing pictures of him looking thinner.

“He was about 14 pounds — he looked like a big, fat raccoon. It looks like he’s been out on his own, fending for himself,” Salls added.    

Dale Dragon was nicknamed for the John C. Reilly character in the 2008 comedy film “Stepbrothers.”

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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