Natasha Hornes had lined up a ride to be with her fiance’, but it went horribly wrong.
Hornes lost everything, the St. Charles Parish Wastewater Department lost its shop cat and Craigslist got another black eye for criminal activity with the service.
“I was going to Missouri to be with my fiance’ and called someone on Craigslist for a ride,” she said. “They have ‘ride shares’ for people who go state to state. He told me his name was Roy and lined up the trip for about $50.”
Hornes said a man arrived as agreed and she paid him.
She got into the white car with her pet mouse and four cats – Rebel, Bast, Sekhmet and Smitty – along with her belongings and they left. But, Hornes said he brought her to a Walmart parking lot in Kenner and told her to get out of the vehicle and left.
A few days later, parish wastewater workers walked into the St. Charles Parish Animal Shelter with this “super friendly cat” to have him checked and neutered.
Paige Rochelle, of the St. Charles Parish Animal Shelter in Luling, said they told her they had been working on a pump in St. Rose when they angrily recounted finding discarded belongings, including a dead mouse in a fish tank. And, while there, this “friendly, friendly, friendly cat” came out of the woods nearby and walked right up to them.
Charmed by the lovable orange-and-white tabby, these good guys intended to make him their shop cat, she said.
But their hopes were dashed when a scan revealed he was already neutered and microchipped, Rochelle said.
After some detective work, they found Hornes.
This is when the New Orleans resident told her heartbreaking story about how she had lost her cats, as well as her mouse, in the Craigslist scam.
It’s also when they learned the recovered cat’s name was Rebel. So far, he’s the only survivor of a scam that left him abandoned in St. Rose.
Cat and owner have since been reunited.
Hornes is also with her fiance’, Christopher Brown, who took a bus to New Orleans to help her when he heard the news about her close call with the Craigslist scammer and lost pets.
“It seems to be a pretty lucrative hussle,” he said. “She’s a good soul.”
Brown said although they’ve used ride share without incident in the past, he wants to take preventative measures to avoid this from happening again to anyone else.
In St. Charles Parish, the search continues for Hornes’ other lost cats.
Rochelle is on a mission to find them.
Humane traps have been placed in the area where Rebel was found, and photographs of the cats also are being posted in the area.
Rochelle emphasized microchipping helped locate Rebel’s owner in an unusual situation.
“This case was different because people often lose their cats close to home,” she said. “These cats were dropped in an unfamiliar area and typically when any cats (feral or pet) are put in an unfamiliar area the outcome is not promising so we are super lucky to have found Rebel.”