On August 25th, 2011, Karen Pascoe was traveling on American Airlines from JFK International Airport in New York to California, where a new job awaited her. Making the move with her were her two cats, Barry and Jack. Barry and Jack were traveling in separate carriers and checked into the baggage department to be shipped in the hold of the plane.
Before Karen even boarded her flight, she received a call from the airline telling her that 18-pound, five-year-old Jack was missing from his carrier - and had vanished into the baggage claim area! Karen missed her scheduled flight as she searched for Jack along with airline personnel, but she had to take the next flight in order to catch up with Barry in California.
An intense search by the airline began followed by an online campaign to find the missing Jack.
In a first time use of social networking by the airline to help locate a missing pet, American Airlines started a Facebook page called Jack the Cat Is Lost in AA Baggage at JFK. Jack became an overnight Facebook star. A second Jack the Cat Facebook fan page quickly acquired 16,000 followers. A Twitter account was started for Jack. Jack became a national sensation. The word spread. Local cat-lovers volunteered to help.
Karen also used Jack's Facebook page to ask fans to urge American Airlines to continue the search. AA flew Karen back to NY to help with the search.
While a Facebook page was an unusual step by the Airline, they didn't just stop there:
- They also confirmed that no sightings of Jack have been reported from patrols of the airfield.
- They held daily briefings to review progress and generate any ideas for locating Jack.
- Representatives from the Port Authority of NY, including a Wildlife Management representative, participated in a debriefing to provide recommendations and offer extended support including extra traps.
- Contacts with search dog and other animal tracking services were made and evaluated.
- The airline reviewed security camera footage to see if they could discover anything that might help find Jack.
- AA sent a flier about Jack to other airlines at the airport, alerting them to be on the lookout for the cream tabby cat.
- The airline were conducted a "thorough investigation" into how this situation came about.
Despite all the efforts and notoriety, there was no sign of Jack. It was as if he had disappeared off the face of the earth.
Jack Drops Back In
Then, 61 days after he went missing, just when everyone was giving up every seeing him again, Jack dropped from the sky... well, to be more accurate, he fell through a ceiling tile in the Custom and Border Patrol room at Terminal 8 of JFK.
A deputy chief officer in Customs saw Jack, grabbed him, and alerted American Airlines. AA team members immediately took the cat to the airport vet service, VetPort, where a microchip scan confirmed that the cat was indeed the missing Jack.
Jack was rushed to the BluePearl Veterinary Partners' hospital in Queens, NY and American Airlines alerted the nation via its Facebook page that Jack had been found.
Weak, hungry and scared, Jack arrived in critical condition at the BluePearl Veterinary Partners' hospital. Having not had food or water in his tummy for two months Jack was initially fed through a nasal tube and received medications via an IV. He also underwent surgery for a wound on his leg.
Jack was diagnosed with fatty liver disease, a disease found in malnourished animals that causes fat to build up in the liver - a direct result of his two months of malnutrition.
A volunteer coordinator visited Jack in the hospital, leaving pieces of Karen's clothing with him until Karen herself could arrive to fetch him home. Until Jack is well enough to travel, Karen trusts the vets to care for him. American Airlines, will pay all the veterinary bills and transport for the kitty and Karen once Jack is ready to go home.
Everyone is happy that Jack Is Back!
Photos Courtesy BluePearl Veterinary Partners