Beryl Edwards, from Market Drayton, had been waiting since May 4 to see her cat, Fred, brought home after she received a notification from microchipping database company Identibase for a request of ‘transfer of ownership’.
What at first was pure elation that the lost member of her family (who had been missing since August) had been found, quickly turned into worry and frustration as Beryl was told she’d need to contact police to get the details of the finder.
Due to data protection laws, Beryl said, the company was not able to give her any information regarding where the cat was – and the only way she could retrieve it is if the police requested it.
Beryl said: “You can imagine I was a bit stunned, he was missing all this time and now there’s a request for a transfer of ownership to someone else.
“I responded in minutes and told Identibase over the phone that I would not be transferring ownership and that I wanted the cat back.”
But after 12 days of worry, Beryl said the police returned Fred to her at 10.45pm on Monday night.
Beryl said that Fred is now happily exploring his indoor space and recognising his favourite spots around the house.
Fred was adopted by Beryl on September 18, 2021 – along with his brother Gino – and went missing on August 9, 2022.
Beryl said: “With help from friends he was posted online and we had all the information out there and I formally reported him missing with Identibase on August 15, 2022.
“I had an acknowledging email from them saying he was now logged on the system as missing and anyone who scanned his chip would see as such.”
Then on May 4 this year, Beryl received a notification out of the blue from Identibase to request for a 'transfer of ownership'.
Despite Beryl being the registered owner of Fred, she was told she would need to contact West Mercia Police to get details of where Fred was.
“Microchipping is not as straightforward as you think in situations like this,” Beryl added.
“I thought when I had the first email that was it I would get him back but unfortunately since then I have had stress.
“It’s been frustrating, I was told out of the blue that the cat that has been missing, has now been found.
“It goes from the sheer relief and elation of ‘he’s coming home’ to having to battle every step of the way and push and push for his return.”
Beryl contacted West Mercia Police and was told that she would initially need to wait four weeks for Fred’s finders to get in touch with her.
However, Beryl said, within that space of time anything could have happened to Fred - so she pushed for faster action.
West Mercia Police opened an active investigation and Fred has now been returned home.
The Government is set to make microchipping compulsory for all cat owners by June 10, 2024, and owners found not to have microchipped their pet will have 21 days to have one implanted, or face a fine of up to £500.
The new rules mean cats must be implanted with a microchip before they reach the age of 20 weeks and their contact details stored and kept up to date in a pet microchipping database.
Addressing other pet owners, Beryl added: “I can’t stress enough, keep your documents safe and keep records too.
“Thankfully, I have got everything and I have toiled through all of my fine details and emails so it is there, but somebody else might not have that if they find themselves in this sort of situation.
“Most people think if you microchip your cat it’s just logging their details and you don’t think any further than that, so it really has been quite revealing, the whole experience.
“And I think a lot of people are finding similar things and with the new law coming in some people just need to know.
“The system is at fault in that people are not aware that you can’t straightaway be told where your cat is because of data protection.”
Mike Jamieson, from Identibase, said: “As the UK’s largest pet protection service, we are an animal welfare company first and foremost.
“We cover an enormous number of UK pets – over 4 million currently – and our primary interest is in the wellbeing of them and their keepers.
“We remain in regular dialogue with all parties concerned in a confidential manner and have assisted West Mercia Police promptly to support the return of the pet to their registered keeper.”