An Ohio woman was reunited with Otis, her beloved California desert tortoise, after an exhaustive two-week search. Kathie Heisinger, of Sebring in Mahoning County, had kept the tortoise as a pet for about 25 years. In a weird twist of fate, the escaped tortoise may have saved her sister’s life.
The California desert tortoise somehow managed to open a sliding glass door in Kathie Heisinger’s Sebring home and escaped on May 30. The Ohio woman immediately created “missing tortoise” flyers and offered a $200 reward for the return of Otis.
The Sebring Volunteer Fire Department matched the reward. The Mahoning County woman then increased the reward to make it an even $500 total. Residents in the village of Sebring quickly joined the effort to help Heisinger find her missing pet.
Through the posted flyers and social media, Otis the California desert tortoise became something of a local celebrity. Newspapers articles and even local television news stations told his story in an effort to help locate the missing pet.
“There are a lot of good people in the world,” Kathie Heisinger said.
More than 100 people in the Sebring area called to report possible spotting of Otis, MSN reports.
The first solid lead in the search for the Ohio missing tortoise led Heisinger to believe amusement company employees who were working at the Sebring Fireman’s Festival over the weekend might have found and decided to keep the California desert tortoise.
It was a loooong, sloooow two weeks, but Ohio woman got her turtle back…. https://t.co/xjYAq9T6Af
— Bill Hormann (@hormannpolitics) June 19, 2017
Kathie Heisinger called the headquarters of the amusement company to inquire about Otis. The company is located about 20 miles away in Stark County, Ohio. The owner said one of his workers had found and, at least temporarily, taken possession of her missing tortoise, but he escaped again after being placed in a cardboard box.
The owner of the amusement company offered $200 to add to the reward pot. Kathie, her sister, and their friends remained diligent in their search for Otis. Tyren O’Steen found the California desert tortoise along the road near where the carnival company had been working and decided to take it home for his three children to enjoy.
Thanks to a newspaper article about the missing tortoise, O’Steen soon learned about the massive search for Otis and called Kathie Heisinger to come reclaim her long-time pet.
“I could tell the tortoise meant a lot to her,” O’Steen said during an interview with the Alliance Review.
— Stellar Adventures (@StellarTours) June 16, 2017
Kathie Heisinger said it was unusual for her sister, who lived alone, to have spent so much time out walking while helping out with the search for the missing tortoise. While out looking for Otis one day the sister said her foot was really hurting and went back to Heisinger’s truck to sit down and rest. Before the sister could be driven home, she lost all the feeling in her entire leg.
When the sister went to the seek emergency medical help, she was told a blood clot had materialized in her leg and underwent surgery that same night. The doctors told Kathie Heisinger’s sister if she would have delayed seeking help for even a few more hours, she would have likely at least lost her foot — or worse. The sister spent some time in intensive care but is now on the road to recovery.
“That’s God’s way of having a plan. I’m a Christian, and nothing in this world will not convince me that wasn’t meant to be,” Kathie Heisinger said when thanking all those who helped search for Otis the missing tortoise.
[Featured Image by Kyle Horner/Shutterstock]