Lyft passenger says driver took off with his cat. Huge search ensued.

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Tux the cat appeared underneath the climate, so his proprietor, Palash Pandey, determined to take him to a vet close to his house in Austin. He referred to as for a Lyft.

When Pandey arrived within the Lyft at Banfield Pet Hospital, he climbed out of the again seat behind the motive force, and walked across the automobile to get Tux, who he mentioned was in a service on the ground behind the passenger seat. That’s when, Pandey mentioned, the motive force unexpectedly drove off with Tux inside.

“I used to be racing subsequent to the automobile, banging on the home windows and shouting, however he simply sped up and took off,” mentioned Pandey, 23, recalling the hectic afternoon of Sept. 30.

“I simply stood there in shock for a few minutes, questioning what to do,” Pandey mentioned.

Pandey referred to as the motive force a number of occasions and messaged him on the Lyft app telling him he wished his cat again, he mentioned.

About two hours later, the motive force responded by means of the app, Pandey mentioned, telling him, “I don’t have something of yours,” and “She isn’t there sorry.”

“Now he’s telling me there’s no cat?” Pandey mentioned.

Pandey contacted Lyft and the Austin Police Division and advised them what occurred, he mentioned, after which, in a panic, he determined to place the phrase out on social media.

“I didn’t anticipate that individuals would wish to assist, however I used to be determined and didn’t know what else to do,” he mentioned. “I used to be actually fearful.”

“Need assistance!! Lyft driver drove off with my pet cat,” Pandey posted on Reddit and X, previously Twitter. He defined the scenario, then added, “Is there anybody who may also help? What else can I do?!”

Tons of of individuals responded to the posts and contacted the native information media and the Lyft company workplace, Pandey mentioned.

“They only jumped in to assist,” he mentioned.

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Folks from around the globe grew to become invested in his story and wished to assist Pandey reunite with the black-and-white tuxedo cat he’d rescued as a kitten, he mentioned.

“I’m in Europe and saved waking up at evening to see when you posted any updates,” wrote one consumer.

“Are you aware the drivers identify or plate quantity?!? I can discover all of their data,” wrote one other.

“Fb and ask folks to share on Nextdoor E mail native vets with a photograph Go to the shelter in individual Native information Posters with textual content giant sufficient to be learn by passing automobiles,” wrote another person.

Feedback began snowballing on social media, and folks in Austin contacted native tv station KVUE about Pandey’s scenario, resulting in a narrative.

Pandey mentioned he labored across the clock, following up on social media leads and recommendation, hoping to get Tux again. He works as a software program engineer in Austin, and mentioned he’s at all times loved coming house to seek out Tux ready to be petted and fed.

“She’s been with me 2 ½ years — ever since I discovered her as a kitten,” he mentioned. “She was caught on a library terrace at Drexel College [in Philadelphia], the place I used to be going to school. I rescued her that day and we’ve been collectively ever since.”

He named the cat Tux after a pc working system, nevertheless it additionally helped that she had the suitable coloring and markings, he mentioned.

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When he moved to Austin a few 12 months in the past, he mentioned his cat supplied consolation throughout a time when he didn’t know many individuals.

“She sleeps on the mattress after all, and he or she likes to run round and have enjoyable,” Pandey mentioned. “I used to be devastated, questioning if I’d get her again.”

Later that night, round 9 p.m. Saturday, the Lyft driver referred to as him, Pandey mentioned, after Austin police had interviewed the motive force about what occurred. The driving force mentioned he drove off rapidly as a result of he was startled, Pandey mentioned.

“He advised me that if he’d recognized I’d had a cat, he wouldn’t have picked me up,” Pandey mentioned. “He mentioned he was allergic to cats and would have canceled the trip. My drop-off location was a pet hospital, and I used to be holding a pet service, so it’s arduous to determine that one out.”

Pandey mentioned the motive force advised him he didn’t have any details about what occurred to Tux. He additionally mentioned he’d picked up a number of different folks that afternoon and none of them had talked about seeing a cat within the automobile.

“How is that even attainable?” Pandey mentioned.

Pandey received a message from a Lyft representative saying she was sorry the cat was within the automobile when the motive force drove off, and in addition, “in case your merchandise is returned by the motive force, you’ll see a normal return charge of $20 for his or her effort and time.”

On Sunday, there was a response from Lyft CEO David Risher on X:

“The preliminary response was terrible,” Risher posted. “Since then, we’ve accomplished lots behind the scenes, however I do know we haven’t communicated sufficient. We’re very targeted on this and can hold the neighborhood updated.”

Lyft didn’t instantly reply to a request from The Washington Put up to substantiate the motive force’s identify. Pandey requested folks not to dox the driver, and Risher requested folks not to “vilify” the driver. “He’s obtained unwarranted threats and is simply as distraught as all of us are,” Risher tweeted.

Lyft despatched out a notification to the corporate’s drivers and riders on a Lyft weblog and on social media asking for assist discovering Tux. The put up requested that individuals share “lost cat” fliers with Tux’s face, and described her as sporting a heart-shaped medallion together with her identify on it round her neck.

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Lyft additionally deployed investigators to the world to search for Tux.

On Sunday, a kind of investigators noticed Tux cowering beneath a stairwell exterior an actual property firm’s workplace, a few mile from the place Pandey had been dropped off the day earlier than. The cat service was nowhere to be discovered.

The investigator reunited Tux and Pandey.

“Tux was hungry and scared and coated in fleas, however she was actually joyful to see me,” Pandey mentioned. “I used to be simply so grateful, I simply hugged her and cried.”

He took Tux to a vet checkup on Monday, and there was no signal that she’d ever been sick, he mentioned.

“It had all disappeared and he or she’s now all cleaned up and he or she’s wonderful,” Pandey mentioned. “If she’d had an sickness, it mounted itself.”

He mentioned he heard from Austin police on Monday that they’re nonetheless investigating the case.

Lyft launched an announcement saying the corporate plans to cowl Tux’s veterinary payments, they usually’re joyful Pandey has his cat again.

“We’ll proceed to work immediately with Palash to offer the help that they each want,” the assertion learn. “We’re actively working with all concerned to completely perceive the scenario — to assist forestall it from occurring once more. We’re evaluating our insurance policies to enhance help for our neighborhood, together with in instances like this.”

Pandey mentioned he hopes the corporate will take steps to make sure no different pet proprietor goes by means of what he did.

“If not for all of the individuals who stopped what they have been doing to assist me out, I’ve to surprise if I’d have my cat again,” he mentioned.

“It’s restored my religion in folks.”

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