A West Michigan family is looking for answers after they believe an Amazon delivery driver drove away with their kitten earlier this week.
Shadow, their 10-week-old barn cat, was returned to her Fruitport home Saturday morning by police.
“Shadow came and ate a whole can of soft cat food and then plopped down on a blanket,” said owner Gabrielle Miller, after Shadow was reunited with family.
Officers are investigating the situation, but the family said it took Amazon way too long to take the situation seriously.
On Monday evening, Miller knew something was wrong when she got home from work.
“My kids were saying, ‘mom, we can’t find Shadow anywhere.'”
“They got their coats on, took flashlights, and looked all over,” Miller said. “And even when they called for her, there was no kitten to be found.”
Miller and her family own a business called Detersmination Equestrian Center and Determination Farm, where they board and train horses, and offer riding lessons. The large property sits at the end of a long driveway off of Wilson Road in Fruitport.
Along with the horses, Miller’s kids also have several barn cats that live outside, occasionally coming into their home if the weather gets bad. Shadow was their newest barn cat, who came into their home at night until she was more used to being outdoors.
“The kids were crying,” Miller said. “And I’m just hoping nothing, like, got her.”
A few hours later, her husband looked through outdoor their surveillance video.
“He came back in and said, ‘you’re not going to believe this,'” Miller remembered. “He told me that some time that afternoon, an Amazon driver came and delivered a package, picked up the cat, carried it around and when she left, there was no cat to be found.”
Gabrielle said she and her husband weren’t too sure what happened, but all they knew was that Shadow was in the video with the driver, and gone when she drove away.
Miller said Shadow is a very friendly cat, is always greeting people and excited when the family is home.
“Normally, as soon as somebody pulls in the driveway, she comes running right up and then she follows them,” said Miller. “Our barn cats are all very, very friendly.”
That’s why she said she wasn’t surprised to see Shadow interacting with the female delivery driver, but felt something was strange when Shadow went missing after the driver left.
“In the video, you can see her bend down and pick Shadow up because it was by the back side of the car over there,” Miller said as she explained the surveillance video. “And instead of bringing Shadow back over by the front porch where she found it, she she put her down and then proceeds to climb in the passenger side of her van.”
The Amazon driver also took a picture of the package after she put it on the back porch to confirm its delivery, and in the photo is Shadow.
“We did think of all the scenarios that could have happened,” Miller said. “Like, if Shadow had jumped in the car or even if an accident had happened.”
Miller explained that if Shadow had accidentally been run over, it would have been caught on their cameras as well, because their driveway is quite long.
“I would also think that at the end of the day, if the driver found Shadow in her truck,” Miller said. “She would have remembered where she came from since she was playing with her, and took a picture with her in it.”
“I try to be positive, and think that there are still good people in this world,” she added. “And you’d think you’d be able to trust that you could leave your cat outside without someone taking it.”
Gabrielle said she reached out to Amazon on Monday night immediately after they watched the surveillance videos.
“I spoke with somebody at first that said they were sorry to hear that my package didn’t get successfully delivered,” Miller said. “And was like ‘no, it’s not the package, it’s my cat.'”
“I was trying to get them to understand that this was a live animal,” she added. “Not like a damaged package or a package that wasn’t delivered.”
Eventually, a representative told her to call the police, so she filed a report with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office. By Tuesday night, all investigators could tell her was that the driver was an employee of a third-party delivery company that was contracted by Amazon, and that they would work to identify who she was.
After several days of back-and-forth with Amazon, Miller and her family still had no luck.
By Thursday, she called 13 ON YOUR SIDE.
“We know accidents happen,” Miller said, “but we haven’t found anything, and at this point, it’s been several days and we haven’t heard anything.”
13 ON YOUR SIDE contacted Amazon Thursday morning for comment, and they said they would look in to the situation. By the afternoon, Gabrielle told us she had finally heard back from them, telling her they are launching an investigation and they were so sorry for what had happened.
“I guess I’m just concerned that if you’re willing to take someone’s kitten, what else are you willing to take,” Miller said. “It’s just the fact that you trust they’re delivering a product, and you hope that you don’t have to worry that someone’s going to take it.”
The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that a police report had been filed, and they are investigating the situation. The day after the story ran on 13 ON YOUR SIDE, Amazon called us and said they too were investigating, working with the local police to resolve the situation and figure out what happened to Shadow.
The Amazon representative also said that although the driver was not an Amazon employee, but rather one of a third-party (called Delivery Service Partners, or DSPs), they did confirm that the driver was no longer delivering for Amazon, and never would again.
The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office have identified the woman as a 24-year-old from Grand Rapids.
“[Police] do believe the prosecutor will proceed with charges, as the [Amazon delivery] woman still believes she was in the right and did nothing wrong,” Miller said.
Deputies say they have turned the case over to the prosecutor to review larceny charges.
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