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From South Korea to Georgia: Pet Homeowners Meet Cats Once more After Shedding Their 7,000 Miles Away

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HINESVILLE, Ga. (WSAV) – After months of separation by thousands of miles, a lost calico cat named Cauliflower was found and reunited with its grateful owners in Georgia.

Lucie Bénévise said she and her husband Devin Lane were preparing to move from South Korea to Hinesville, Georgia when their beloved “Cauli” disappeared.

Lane, a US Army medic, moved to Fort Stewart from his military base at Camp Humphreys, Pyeongtaek on the west coast of South Korea.

While preparing for the big move, the newly married couple needed to make sure their cat had all of the necessary shots and vaccinations.

“To import them into the US, we needed three shots, we needed the rabies vaccine, we needed a health certificate, an import certificate,” said Bénévise, who was born in Paris, France and lived for several years in South Korea, where she got hers Husband met.

Cauli’s rabies vaccine had to be completed at least 30 days before she left for the United States and the couple were short on time.

“I got my American visa literally two weeks before my Korean visa expired, so I had about two or three weeks to get a flight here,” Bénévise told the WSAV.

While Bénévise was waiting for her husband to come to her in the US, she planned to fly to the US and stay briefly with her mother-in-law, who owns dogs, in Texas.

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“I couldn’t possibly have put that responsibility on her, like, ‘Hey, you have to help me, and you have to house my cat with your two dogs too,” said Bénévise.

Instead, Bénévise and Lane created Facebook posts in various Camp Humphreys military spouse groups seeking foster care for Cauli.

The hope was that a friendly, animal-loving family would take care of Cauli for at least two months before the cat could fly to the US with Lane while he was doing his chores in South Korea.

“We found this really great family who had arrived maybe a month earlier,” said Bénévise. “They said, ‘We had to leave our cat at home in the US, so we would like to take care of your cat for a few months until your husband is ready to fly back with her.'”

About a week after she left Cauli with the foster family, Bénévise set off on her first trip to the United States without her husband or pet.

“To be honest, it was soul-destroying”

In late October, Lane and Cauli were ready to join her in North America. The Army medic had to report for duty in Georgia by November 3.

Lane and his cat were scheduled to leave Incheon International Airport at around 9:00 am on October 30th.

One of Lane’s friends drove him around 5 a.m. to pick up Cauli from her foster parents’ home, and they returned to the barracks so that another friend could accompany her on the way to the airport, Bénévise said.

“While they were waiting [their] Friend, you have decided to let the cat run around in the car so that it has more freedom or is more comfortable, ”she said.

The driver of the car then opened the trunk that Cauli was in.

“She freaked out, she jumped out of the car and ran away in fear because she had no idea what was going on, she was in strange surroundings and all that,” said Bénévise and added, “that’s how she got lost.”

To buy time and keep looking for Cauli at the military base, Lane changed his flight date.

“Unfortunately, he hadn’t found her at the end of the weekend and had to board the flight because he still had to be here to report for his next place of work,” said Bénévise.

The couple’s reunion at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was overshadowed by the fact that their pet was lost in a country over 7,000 miles away.

“It was honestly soul-destroying,” said Bénévise, who first fell in love with Cauli when she was a stray kitten in late 2017.

“I just needed this cat, it was so cute,” Bénévise recalled. “I think back then, she was only 2 or 3 months old, she was really small and really adorable.”

As the 2020 holiday season drew near, Bénévise and her husband reached out to friends and strangers in South Korea online and asked them to look out for Cauli.

“We had made a number of posts on the Facebook spouse groups for Camp Humphreys, and with each posting we increased the reward,” said Bénévise.

The couple offered a $ 500 reward first, and later $ 1,500 for their return.

The couple received several photos of people who spotted cats that looked like cauli.

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“They try so hard and it’s like disappointment after disappointment several times a week,” Bénévise said, revealing that after a while, people were telling her to just stop looking for her cat.

“Some of my friends said, ‘It’s okay Lucie, you did everything you could,” and I knew I didn’t do everything I could, I can still go on, “she said. “‘I don’t think I should give up.'”

“I just felt so relieved.”

Then, around 5 a.m. on December 27, Bénévise said her husband had shaken her excitedly.

He had received a photo of a calico cat along with a text message that said, “Hey, is that your cat? We petted this really friendly cat and she won’t leave us alone so we gave her tuna. ”

Bénévise examined the picture. “It was so blurry, but I know it is her, I know it is her,” said Bénévise. “It’s her color, it’s her face.”

It turned out that Cauli wasn’t far away at all. It was found, dirty and a little less heavy, and roamed the same military base that it got lost on.

Her previous foster family took care of the cat again until she was able to reunite with her family in Georgia.

Bénévise announced that bringing their pet to the United States was proving to be a challenge.

They needed someone in the military who was able to fly the couple to Atlanta, Charleston, or an international airport within five hours by car.

“Somebody wrote to me,” My 22-year-old son is going to Atlanta on January 9th, “Bénévise said, and then finally came the day she had waited six months for.

“He held her bag around his neck and gave the bag to me, and I gave him a small amount of money to thank him for it,” she said of seeing her again at the airport. “I know it might not have been easy to have the cat with you during the flight, but he said she was fine.”

Bénévise, her husband and Cauli finally returned to Hinesville as a complete family for the first time.

“She landed on that cat tower and has not left the cat tower since,” said Bénévise as Cauli relaxed on the tower behind her.

“She was only there with me through the good and the bad,” she added. “I was just so relieved. I know that nobody can love her as much as I love her. “

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