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The cat that ran away from home in a Pickfords van

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“There’s a cat in my van” is not the usual greeting you’d expected to get from a driver on his arrival back to base, especially one who had been away for nearly two weeks. It was more likely to be “can I sort out my expenses” or “my van’s got a problem”.

It was warm summer’s evening at Amesbury depot and driver, Bernie, had just arrived back from Germany, where he was delivering and then collecting household effects for military personnel. Ashley, another employee of Pickfords, told Bernie not to open any of the doors until DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) had been contacted. The depot at Amesbury was surrounding by farmland so if the cat escaped the crew might have to raise a rabies alert. Luckily they could hear the cat moving about and making a noise. It remained safely in the van until DEFRA arrived.

The next morning two officers from DEFRA came and changed into their protective suits (made of felt like material). They entered the van and asked the crew to make a noise outside the van to encourage the cat to come towards them. Once they located the cat, the officers quickly caught it and placed it in a secure quarantine travelling case.

This was not the end of the story however. A couple of days later, one of the officers called the office. They had tried to call the owner of the cat from the number on its name tag but had not been able to reach anyone. It was only when the officer read out the number on the name tag, that Ashley realised that it was actual a number belonging to a base in Germany. Ashley rang the number and discovered that the cat belonged to a family on Rheindalen military base in Germany, who happened to live next door to the officer whose goods had been loaded onto Bernie’s van. Apparently the cat had gone to investigate what was inside the van and fallen asleep.

The owner asked if we could smuggle the cat back into Germany without anyone knowing. I explained that this would be illegal and we would not do it. The owner’s response was to say they then didn’t want the cat. When Bernie and the rest of the removal crews at the depot heard this, they agreed to club together to pay the cost of quarantine so the cat could be rehomed and not put to sleep.

The officer at DEFRA was very touched by this and a couple days later rang back to say someone had contacted them to say they would pay all the quarantine fees and rehome the cat.

So the cat that ran away from home in a Pickfords van found a new home in England in true fairy tale style lived happily ever after with its new owners.
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