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SPECIAL DELIVERY: Cat rescue bridges business divide

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La Jolla resident Melissa Hall poses with her son, Sam, their cat, Ginger, and their hero, Andres Barrientos.
(COREY LEVITAN)

“We were heartsick,” said La Jolla resident Melissa Hall. “I was beyond distraught.”

Whenever a lost cat gets rescued and reunited with its humans, it’s a sweet story. On Monday, May 13, Ginger, a 13-year-old orange tabby, slipped away from the La Jolla family who cherished her: Hall, her husband Jesse and their 9-year-old son, Sam.

The hero of this story is Andres Barrientos. He noticed Ginger roaming a stretch of Beaumont Avenue, a half mile from her home, on Wednesday, May 15. The next day, Barrientos saw her again, but noticed something strange this time.

“The cat was walking against the wall, just following it, and crashing and going back and getting stuck in bushes,” said Barrientos, who rang the doorbell of the house Ginger was in front of, assuming the animal was theirs.

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What makes this particular story more than just sweet are its details. Ginger recently went blind from hyperthyroidism. Hall said they had planned to encircle their backyard with chicken wire but didn’t appreciate the urgency, since Ginger mostly just hung around indoors, following familiar pathways.

Barrientos checked the ID tag and called its phone number. No one picked up. He tried again and, this time, left a voicemail.

“We thought we looked absolutely everywhere,” Hall said. “Each day that went by, it just got more and more grim. Then Thursday came and it was raining out. I just thought, ‘She’s not coming back, she crawled somewhere and just left us.’”

When Hall got the voicemail, she immediately called Barrientos back and drove to Ginger. When she picked Sam up at Bird Rock Elementary School that afternoon and broke the miraculous news, he said he had “a little bit of hope” but still couldn’t believe it.

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But here’s the best detail of the story … Hall is a sales exec for FedEx, Barrientos a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. (He found Ginger while making his rounds.) So this is also a story of one act of human kindness bridging the divide between business rivals.

Seems like FedEx owes the U.S. Postal Service a favor now. “A huge favor,” Hall said, grabbing and kissing Ginger.


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