Cat lost 1,000 miles away found after Facebook plea

When Vicky Perry's beloved pet cat went missing, she was prepared to go to any lengths to find her.

Which was just as well... because the mission to rescue Martina involved a transcontinental social media campaign, a 2,000-mile return journey over land and sea and an emotional reunion in a French bar.

The saga began when Miss Perry, 27, decided to return to the Wakefield in the UK after four years of living in Sicily, Italy.

The primary school teacher wanted to bring her pet with her – but feared the journey by ferry, plane and coach would be too much for Martina, who she had nursed back to health after adopting her as a nervous and neglected stray.

Miss Perry found positive reviews on the site for driver Robert Roph, and accepted his quote of £700 to transport Martina from Palermo to the UK in an air-conditioned Toyota van.

She said: "At the time I thought it would cause the least hassle, ironically."

However, things began to go wrong when German-born Roph did not arrive on the agreed morning. He eventually turned up at 2am "with excuse after excuse, including that he'd had a flat tyre along the way".

Miss Perry added: "His “state of the art” van was a car that he was clearly living in, there was rubbish all over the back seat and Martina in her basket had to go in the boot.

'But what was I supposed to do? I had no other options."

Reluctantly, Miss Perry waved off her pet and continued to the UK.

But when Roph failed to answer her increasingly frantic calls and emails, she rang Shiply.com, which sent the driver an email threatening to terminate his account.

His response horrified her: "There is a problem with the cat delivery from Palermo … When I was cleaning the cage, the cat bit me and escaped... I been three days surching [sic] in Nice and could not find it again... I give up, as nobody there saw it."

Miss Perry, who had already handed over £250 to Roph, said: "I couldn't process that he'd actually lost my cat three days ago and I was only finding out now.

'I was so angry at myself for trusting him."

She wasted no time in registering Martina's disappearance on English, Italian and French microchip databases and spreading the word on social media – including posting pleas for help on the Facebook pages of every bar and restaurant in Nice.

And then, ten long days after she had last set eyes on her pet, Miss Perry received a Facebook message saying a cat fitting Martina's description was being looked after in a bar in Nice.

Convinced by the grainy photograph, she leapt into action, getting a ferry from Dover to Calais and then hiring a car for the 12-hour drive to Nice – and paying the bar £40 to stay open for an extra hour until she got there.

She said: "When I saw Martina I was so happy I didn't know what to do with myself.

'As soon as she heard my voice she started miaowing – which the manager said she hadn't done the whole time."

Shiply.com has refunded Miss Perry's £100 handling fee, and she will now undertake legal proceedings against Roph to try to recover the money she paid him.

A relieved Miss Perry added: "Next time I go travelling with Martina it will have to be for a very good reason."



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