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Toby Going ‘Home’ for the Holidays

A cat is flying to Oklahoma for a special reunion. Toby, a 13-year-old, domestic short-haired cat, is taking a trip to Oklahoma City where he will reunite with a woman who helped raise him.

Amber Jennings grew up in the Shreveport, La., area where she lived near her uncle, Kirk Copeland. He eventually moved West to Riverside. In late October, Mr. Copeland was not answering his phone. Relatives requested a welfare check and Riverside Police discovered Mr. Copeland dead in his downtown Riverside apartment.

On Oct. 28, Riverside County Animal Services officer Mary Salazar responded to a call from Riverside Police after an officer noticed Toby inside. Within a day of Toby’s impound at the Western Riverside County/City Animal Shelter in Jurupa Valley, Ms. Jennings contacted the shelter and asked about reuniting with Toby. Only trouble was, she now calls Duncan, Okla., her new hometown.

“Toby was my cat before my uncle got him,” Ms Jennings said. “We started traveling for work and Toby was lonely. My uncle ended up moving to California and I moved to Oklahoma. It was the perfect fit for Toby.”

She said it was important to reunite with Toby because it was a way to honor her uncle.

“I thought it was the only way we could get closure and my uncle would be at rest,” she said. “Toby meant so much to him and was his companion. Toby’s also gotten me through many ups and downs in life and it’s just the perfect happy ending – or new beginning – for us to have him home again.”

The special flight was coordinated with help from Southwest Airlines®, which provided transportation to Oklahoma City and made a special exception to waive the Pet Fare. (The drive would be 1,283 miles and take 19 hours.)

“Southwest is honored to be able to play a small role in helping get Toby to his fur-ever home,” said Alyssa Foster, Southwest Airlines Spokesperson. “Our Employees are known for the Hospitality they show each Customer, and we appreciate the efforts our Employees throughout the system made to ensure Toby had a special trip.”

A nonprofit organization that helps with the county’s animal shelters and programs jumped into action, too. The Animal Solutions Konnection (ASK) Foundation bought the pet carrier to transport Toby trip and sent Toby’s new family a $100 gift card from PetSmart.

“These are the heartwarming stories we love to hear about – and be a part of,” said Carolyn Badger, president of the ASK Foundation. “We wish Toby a safe journey.”

Contact a Shelter

Western Riverside: (951) 358-7387 (PETS)
San Jacinto: (951) 358-7387
Coachella Valley: (760) 343-3644
Blythe: (760) 921-7857
Toll Free: 1-888-636-7387 (PETS)

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