AUSTIN (KXAN) — Local cat owner Palash Pandey was reunited with his cat, Tux, overnight Sunday into Monday morning after the two were separated following a rideshare trip on Saturday.
Pandey posted updates on social media throughout his search for Tux.
Pandey told KXAN over the phone 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. They did not find the carrier she was last seen in, Pandey said in a social media update.
He said Tux is back home, ate food and drank water, and will be taken to a vet later Monday.
According to Pandey, he took the trip Saturday to bring his cat in for medical care at a Banfield Pet Hospital location on Research Boulevard in Austin. When they arrived, he exited the vehicle and went around to the other side in order to retrieve Tux’s carrier.
But before he could, the Lyft driver began to drive away.
“I like, ran behind him, screaming like, ‘wait, wait, wait.’ I banged on his windows hoping that he would notice me and just stop. But instead of that he just like, 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 attempted to contact the driver through the Lyft app but did not receive a reply before using up the app’s message limit. He attempted to use Lyft’s live support but said 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 Sunday afternoon statement to KXAN.
In a statement to KXAN Sunday night, a Lyft spokesperson said they were in touch with Pandey “within minutes of his initial outreach.”
Note: the above video is from coverage on Sunday, Oct. 1.
“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 said in a post.
Lyft sent out notifications about Tux 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 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 off, said that he went to pick up people right after he dropped me off,” Pandey said.
As he was putting up flyers on Sunday, Pandey said he was encouraged by the community response to his online call for help.
“The community here is very nice. I’m hoping that somebody picked it up, and took her in. I’m just hoping that I can find that person and get her back home,” he said before they were reunited.
He also said Tux has a medical issue and needed veterinary attention.
After Tux was found, Lyft posted on X, saying the company is “focused on making sure Tux has everything she needs right now.”
“We are actively working with all involved to fully understand the situation. We must do better in how we support our community. And, we will,” Lyft said in the post.
In an email Monday afternoon, Pandey thanked everyone in Austin and beyond who shared Tux’s photos and helped spread information about her disappearance.
“I don’t think I would have been able to find her on my own, no matter how hard I tried,” Pandey said in the email. “I vastly underestimated the kindness of strangers and the strong community in Austin. I’m also thankful for people who spent so much time trying to find her. She is doing well now, the vet said there is nothing to worry about. She is just relaxing at home and taking long naps.”