Florida Woman Reunited With Lost Cat [UPDATED]

UPDATE: Charlene High was reunited with her cat, Donna, after staff at the Humane Society were able to work out a solution between her and the New York family that was going to adopt the 5-year-old Cornish Rex.

Little Donna went missing in February when contractors were installing a wheelchair ramp in High’s home and she got spooked as so many cats do, running out of the house.

She was found on March 14 and brought to the Humane Society of Highlands County, where staff held her for the mandatory five days before listing her for adoption.

In the meantime, High — who had been calling around to local shelters, posting Donna’s photo online and looking for her in the neighborhood — saw a social media post about a cat who had been found. The staff at the Humane Society named her Karena, but she was High’s Donna, and High said she was “ecstatic” her kitty was alive.

High and Donna couldn’t be immediately reunited, however. A family from New York had filed adoption papers for Donna and were planning on driving down to Tampa to pick up the cat.

Staff at the Humane Society worked to find a solution for everyone involved.

“We had to do some backchanneling and talking to the adopters and trying to find a solution with the adopters while also talking to Ms. Charlene,” said Sara Olivero, a staffer at the Humane Society of Highlands County. “We’ve had to do a lot of shuffling, a lot of phone calls, a lot of phone tagging.”

Ultimately, Donna’s would-be adopters agreed that she should be returned home, and will adopt a kitten instead, Olivero said. Donna was spayed, given a day to recover at the shelter, and was reunited with High on Tuesday.

“Ms. Charlene felt bad. The situation was bad to begin with,” Olivero said. Thankfully the solution was satisfactory to all and “every party is happy” with the outcome.

A Fox13 Tampa Bay (WTVT) story about the situation was aired and published to the web on Monday after the resolution, but presented the story as if the dispute was ongoing in addition to including several errors of fact.

We contributed to the flow of misinformation by linking to the WTVT story 11 hours after it was published, a practice called aggregation, and added our own commentary based on the misinformation. We got burned, and the result was presenting an inaccurate and outdated account of events to our readers.

We regret the error and promise to do better in the future. We’re glad the Humane Society found a satisfactory solution in a difficult situation, and we’re glad that Donna the cat has been returned to her original home.

Credit: Charlene High



13 thoughts on “Florida Woman Reunited With Lost Cat [UPDATED]”

  1. This is a sad story with losers all around. I agree with Big and Little Buddy that the separation will be worst for the cat. I also feel there’s a bit of punishment in the decision to not return the cat. The fact that the original owner bred the cat is troublesome, too.
    So many cats are in need and will never find that forever home. Breeding a pedigree and then selling the kittens is inappropriate when millions of cats are euthanized because they have no homes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. And I forgot to add this in the previous comment: 5 days waiting period and then the cat is rehomed? That’s too little time for the owner to locate the animal.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is appalling. I thought the “PC” in SPCA was supposed to stand for “prevention of cruelty.” It’s hard to imagine that the national organization would be happy about what one of its branches is doing.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Well, yeah, the lady did forget to update her phone number, but you’d think the SPCA would be much more concerned about what the cat would probably want, i.e. to be returned to her original home.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. As a follow-up to this story I called the Highlands County, FL SPCA where this story originated, and was told on 03/24/21 that:
    1. Action was already being taken, even prior to this becoming a news story, to reunite Donna(the kitty) with Ms. High. Several steps had to be taken, as a law regarding adoption had to be considered. That may have been the cause of the negative bent of comments being made.
    2. The person I spoke with at the SPCA indicated that the news media had not accurately quoted all parties in this, which produced a negative bias to the story. (I can imagine that!)
    2. Donna (the kitty) HAS been re-united with Ms. High, according to the SPCA office.
    Hope this helps, and so glad that others got involved in this as well, and am primarily glad that Ms. High & Donna are back together!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, there’s a happy end of sorts after all! I guess there will be more announcements coming but for right now Donna is back in her home.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Thanks, Bill. You’re right: The WTVT (Fox13) report had several inaccuracies and, we have since learned, aired and published after a compromise had been reached.

      I’ve updated the story and headline and added a note at the bottom explaining what happened, as well as apologizing for contributing to the confusion by taking the WTVT story at face value. That story also pitted High and the Humane Society against each other, which does not seem to be the case at all since we now know they were working on a compromise.

      Aggregation is a common practice in journalism these days, but this is an unfortunate side effect. The hope is that a media organization is presenting an accurate story, but unfortunately that’s not a guarantee nowadays.


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