A Long Island cat who had been missing for three years returned home to his owner on Jan. 17.
Charlene Lanigan, 64, never gave up hope after her cat McGee ran away from her home in January of 2010.
"I was devastated," she said. "He's a wonderful cat. He's friendly. He's beautiful and when he didn't come back, being it was January, it was cold, I was heartbroken."
While Lanigan stopped passing out missing cat fliers in her neighborhood and closed her doggy door at night for over a year after McGee went missing, she was still optimisitic about the cat's return. However, she was never prepared for the phone call she recieved from the East Islip animal shelter, exactly three years after McGee left home.
Bobby Boyle, 40, of East Islip said he came across McGee wandering around his background after superstorm Sandy. He said he knew the cat was too nice to be a stray. Boyle then started searching on Craiglist and other websites for missing notices about a friendly, fluffy cat.
"This is an expensive, nice cat," Boyle remembers thinking when he found the cat. "What is he doing here?"
Boyle said he took the cat to the Town of Islip Animal Shelter on Jan. 16. When he asked the shelter to scan the McGee's microchip, Lanigan's name and number popped up.
"I was there in 10 minutes; I flew to the shelter," Lanigan said, calling Boyle "my hero."
"My body went numb," she said. "Bobby returned him to the shelter three years to the day that he went missing. It was just amazing, absolutely amazing. He came in the house like he never left."
Lanigan said the only difference with McGee was that his tail was less fluffy and his meow was hoarse.
Shelter supervisor Joanne Daly said finding a missing pet after so long is quite uncommon but does happen. She said a few years ago, the shelter took in a shih tzu mix that had been missing for four years, and reunited a dog and the owner.
"The woman reported the dog missing -- I believe she was from Queens -- and the dog was found out here," she said. "Small dogs, nice cats, people find these, and they just pick them up and keep them, or give them away."
Lanigan, who successfully beat breast cancer in 2012, said McGee made her sure of one thing: "Never give up hope for anything in your life. There's always hope."
Click here to see Lanigan and McGee.