AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Texas man was reunited with his pet cat, Tux, early Monday morning after the two were separated during a rideshare trip. The search for his feline went viral.
Palash Pandey had posted updates on social media throughout his search for Tux. He said that investigators hired by Lyft found Tux about a mile away from where the driver dropped Pandey off, and he was alerted around 1:30 a.m. Monday. He said that Tux is back home, eating food and drinking water, and seeing the vet.
According to Pandey, he took the trip to bring his cat in for medical care on Saturday at Banfield Pet Hospital in Austin, Texas. When they arrived, he got out of the vehicle and went to the other side to get Tux’s carrier. But instead, the Lyft driver drove off.
“I ran behind him, screaming, ‘Wait! Wait! Wait!’ I banged on his windows, hoping that he would notice me and just stop. But instead of that, he just peeled off, he drove away,” Pandey said. “I don’t know how else you would perceive somebody who you just dropped off running behind you and banging on your windows and doors. I don’t know if there’s a charitable explanation for that.”
Pandey then tried contacting the driver through the app, receiving no reply before maxing out the app’s message limit. He tried using Lyft’s live support, but said that it was unresponsive.
“We are aware of the situation, and we’re currently in touch with the rider and driver,” said a Lyft spokesperson in a statement to NEWS10’s sister station, KXAN. They added that they were in touch with Pandey “within minutes of his initial outreach.”
“In addition to communicating with Palesh, we have been directly in touch with the driver and other passengers that rode with him following the ride with Palesh,” the spokesperson said. “We realize we could have done better in communicating regular updates to Palesh and the community. We all want the same outcome—for Tux to get home safely—and will keep the community posted.”
Lyft’s CEO, David Risher, also took to social media to post about the missing cat. “Many have asked about @palashp40616755’s cat Tux. We’ve now alerted @lyft drivers and riders in Austin to be on the lookout for her,” Risher tweeted.
Lyft sent out notifications about Tux on Sunday night.
Risher continued the post by asking people not to “vilify the driver.” He said the driver has received “unwarranted threats and is just as distraught as we all are.” Risher did say in a follow-up that the driver was “deactivated for now,” and that after speaking with him it was “clear things are somewhat more complicated than they first appear.”
Pandey contacted the Austin Police Department about the incident and filed a report, as well as posted about it on social media. Around three hours after filing the police report, the driver called Pandey.
“He called me back saying that he doesn’t know where my cat is. He said that he had riders right out after my drop and that he went to pick up people right after he dropped me off,” Pandey said.
The below video is from coverage on Sunday, October 1: