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Turnpike Helps Rescue Missing Emotional-Support Cat

Home News Stories from the Turnpike Turnpike Helps Rescue Missing Emotional-Support Cat

It just may be a Christmas miracle.

Levi, an emotional-support cat, had escaped from his owner’s car after a crash on the PA Turnpike’s Northeastern Extension near Hickory Run State Park. The tiny black cat was on the lam for a month, but on Christmas Day, Grace Amen got a call that just made her holiday.

“We were overjoyed,” Amen, the Eastern Regional Office Administrative Officer, said. “We did everything we could to get Levi home for Christmas.” 

While it may have been a Christmas miracle, there was quite a bit of help from the Turnpike and a pet-rescue specialist to make it happen.

It started shortly after Thanksgiving when Ted Bachman of the volunteer-based Lehigh Valley Pet Search got a call about Levi, who belongs to a Temple University student who was involved in the crash on her way home for the holiday. That’s when Levi escaped.

To conduct a search in the vast Carbon County state park, Bachman needed access to the Turnpike’s property, and that’s when he called Amen to get permission to search for the missing cat.

Amen and Engineer Project Manager Joe Kerner started to look into it, and they reached out to the Turnpike’s Legal Department. When they got Legal’s OK to allow Bachman onto Turnpike property, District 5 Maintenance helped Bachman find a good spot to conduct his search.

Any cat owner can tell you how difficult it is to find a cat in your own house, let alone in a wooded state park, but Bachman has all the latest technology. He launched drones with thermal cameras to look for feline-shaped heat signatures. His team also posted cellular trail cameras in the woods, capturing a few images of Levi, and even brought in two K9s from Professional Pet Trackers to get a scent and narrow down the search.


levi on camera


But Levi, who likely camped down for most of the time, living off of mice and avoiding bigger animals, still eluded capture. He eventually made his way out of the forest and to a nearby neighborhood, where a homeowner had been feeding strays. Bachman’s team started canvasing that area, putting up posters and knocking on doors. It wasn’t long before they learned from a neighbor that a small black stray had shown up just a few days prior. The team was able to set a trap humane trap with food inside and a door that shuts behind the cat who wanders in, and they were able to bring Levi home on Christmas Day.

“We were relieved,” said Edgar Walker, whose daughter is Levi’s owner. “It was a very stressful month between the time we lost him and found him. We were overjoyed.”

And Levi is doing great and is happy to finally be home, Walker added.

It was good news for the Turnpike team that pitched in to help, as well. Kerner will never forget getting that Christmas text over from Amen, reporting that Levi was safe and had returned home.  

“It was a Christmas miracle,” Kerner said. “It made all of our day.”

“Stories like this have a happy ending, after all,” Amen added.

By Steve Marroni, PA Turnpike Commission, Communications Specialist