Meet Thomas Jr., T2 for short, and his owner, Perry Martin. The two were recently reunited after more than a decade of being apart - and it's all thanks to a microchip and a whole lot of luck.
Perry Martin received a call on March 9th from his veterinarian, letting him know that T2 had been found. They asked, "What would you say if we told you that T2 was alive?" Martin continued, "I basically told them that I would say they were crazy because he had passed away a long time ago,” Martin, a retired K-9 officer from Fort Pierce, Florida, told TODAY.
T2 went missing fourteen years ago after Hurricane Jeanne slammed into Florida. He is thought to have escaped through an open window. Martin and his neighbors looked for T2 for months, but turned up nothing.
"With him being microchipped, I figured someone would find him and call me," he said. But when that didn't happen, Martin assumed the worst: that T2 had been struck by a car on the nearby highway. It would be 14 years and a few moves later before Martin would hear news about his beloved T2.
On March 5 of this year, a skinny, flea-ridden ginger tabby wandered into the yard of Lisa Wadsworth of Stuart, Florida. The wobbly cat was none other than T2 - but they didn't know that yet. Wadsworth observed that this stray was obviously meant to be an indoor cat, as he kept trying to get in their house. "He just wanted human affection," Wadsworth said.
Wadsworth and her two kids, Lauren, 13, and Quin, 11, fell in love with the cat almost immediately. The kids started leaving food out for the supposed stray, and would spend entire afternoons playing with him.
They even gave him a bath, happily picking fleas out of his fur. “When (they) gave it a bath, it just sat there. It didn’t fight or anything,” Wadsworth said.
Unable to keep the bedraggled ginger, they first took him to their vet, Dr. Stanley Hopek, for a checkup. T2 was scanned for a microchip, which is a small implant that allows vets and shelters to trace an animal back to their owner should they go missing. Dr. Hopek was amazed to learn that the hardware was approximately 16 years old. After transferring T2 to the Treasure Coast Humane Society and a bit of digging through decades-old information, they finally found Perry Martin's contact information.
Three days later, Martin made the 40 minute trip to the shelter to be reunited with his long-lost best friend - who is now 18 years old.
“As soon as I came around the corner and saw him lying in that cage, I knew it was him,” said Martin. “When I reached down there to pick him up it was like, oh, heaven … the bond was there and it just took that to bring us both back together again.”
T2 is happily reunited with his dad, Perry Martin, and his new sister, a golden retriever named Sassy.
The first few days back home were rough for T2 - he refused to eat or drink. But now that he's back home, T2 has been steadily improving. And Martin is already making the most of his newfound time with T2. “I’ve been holding him in my lap, sitting in my easy chair, asking him to do nothing,” he said. "I will make sure he's comfortable for the rest of his time here," Martin continued. "He's still skin-and-bones and he's 18 years old, but he's still T2."