SAN FRANCSICO (KGO) -- Many of us consider pets our family. But after a San Francisco family lost their pet cat, Blackie, then found her, why can't they get the animal back?
"My sister thought it was a really good idea to get her when she's young, and you can grow old with them and live a lot longer," said high school student Leanne Le, who may never get that wish to grow old with her calico, Blackie, after the feline disappeared from her family's home in October 2023.
So Leanne and her mom posted fliers, reported her missing to Animal Care and Control and searched an Excelsior park.
"Three months. We looked every single day," said Leanne's mom, Jioana Huang.
The fliers worked. Leanne and her mom got a tip on Blackie's whereabouts and were able to connect with a young woman who had Blackie.
But that happiness was short-lived. Huang says the person Blackie was living with refused to give her back. Even after offering a $2,000 reward, and suggesting shared custody.
"We miss her so much," said the teen.
San Francisco Animal Care and Control confirm they scanned the cat, and it indeed was Blackie. But that's all they could do.
"All we can tell you is the chip matches we don't have any idea if someone in family one gave someone in family two the cat," said Virginia Donohue, executive director at the San Francisco Animal Care and Control.
Bruce Wagman, an experienced animal law attorney says animals are considered personal property in California. He says he gets a lot of pet custody cases and even though Leanne and Jioana are technically in the right, proof of ownership makes things complicated.
"If I left my computer on the beach, it doesn't become your computer. If you picked up my cat, it's still my cat. But sometimes animals are given as gifts. If I said 'Dion, happy birthday. Here's a cat.' it's yours."
Leanne and Jioana say they definitely did not give Blackie away and calls by ABC7 to the person Blackie is staying with were not returned. So for now, this family is considering legal action and are holding out hope.
"We want her to return the cat to us," Jioana said.
If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live