Published on: May 7, 2024
Author: Lauren Piandes

Last week, you may have seen the incredible story of a cat being being discovered in an Amazon returns box. Brandy Hunter, one of the Amazon employees at this warehouse and a known cat lover, was called in to help. Upon seeing the confused, stressed cat, Brandy just knew the cat belonged to someone who loved her. This had to have been some horrible mistake.

Little did she know that over 600 miles away, Carrie Clark and her family were desperately searching for their beloved cat Galena in their home state of Utah. Because of Galena’s microchip, she was reunited with her family, who could not have been more ecstatic to see their cat again after a harrowing 7 days without her.

We were lucky enough to sit down with Carrie to talk about Galena’s survival story and recount how the entire ordeal went down.


PetLink: When did you have Galena microchipped? Was she microchipped when you adopted her?

Carrie Clark: Galena was microchipped as a kitten after we adopted her from a family member. This is really cool, and not a lot of people know this, but [Galena]’s mom was a stray cat. My aunt and grandma took in the momma cat, and the momma cat gave birth to six kittens. Galena’s the oldest girl of the litter and the rest of her siblings are spread throughout my extended family. Isn’t that amazing?


PL: Yes, that is so rare for that to happen! Not only that, but not a lot of people think of getting their pet microchipped on their own, they usually do it with a vet or shelter’s recommendation. For a recap for anyone that hasn’t seen the original CNN coverage, how did the accidental cat-in-the-box mishap happen?

CC: I mean, it is a wild story. My husband, Matt, needed steel-toed boots for his job and had a “try before you buy” Amazon order delivered to our house. The box it arrived in was around around 3’ by 3’ with six pairs total. Matt picked the pair he wanted to keep and put the other five back in the oversized box to be returned to Amazon.


The whole week we had been joking about how much Galena would love to play in that box. Galena is the kind of cat who loves to play in small spaces, hide, and hunt. We play with each other a lot, and she loves to hide in her tunnel toy, jump out and attack her little toys. So, we joked about how [this huge box] would be Galena’s favorite thing in the whole wide world.


Well, as my husband put the work books back in the box, he checked everything, put the flaps down, then stepped out of the room to get some tape and scissors. While he was away Galena must have opened the flap and snuck into the box. When Matt came back into the room he sealed it up, without checking inside again, and took it off to the UPS location near us.

Some cats have a flight or flight response when they get scared. Galena is not one of those personalities. She’s the kind of cat who will freeze and instinctively try to blend in [with her surroundings]. Even her coat has a camouflaged look, and her personality matches that.


Photo courtesy of Carrie Clark


PL: I totally understand what you mean, cats are funny like that. Mine has a total flight response, and if we come home and open the door a little too loudly, he’ll run across the house. So, sometimes I think having a freezing cat would be nice. In this circumstance, having a cat that freezes is not the best.

CC: Yes, it was awful. It could have been a total tragedy. She was stuck in that box for 6 days without food and water. The box was left on an Amazon truck, and it took 2 days to get to California from Utah. That’s around 650 miles away from us. [Although it took those 2 days], the box was sitting there for an additional few days while they waited to get to her load. With Amazon, it takes longer to return packages than to receive them.


There were many miracles that happened that helped aid [Galena] in surviving. The first miracle was that she went to Brandy Hunter’s warehouse and was sorted there. Brandy’s team found Galena in the box, and their initial reaction was “What kind of sick person puts their cat in the mail to get rid of them?!” They thought it was intentional. [Thankfully] Brandy knows all about cats, and she just knew that was not the case. She could tell that Galena was well-loved and that this was probably an accident. Or at least, she was crossing her fingers and toes that it was an accident! She ended up loving Galena, and told me that if she wasn’t microchipped, she would have kept her.


The second miracle that occurred was that one of the seams on the box had completely unglued, allowing air to come through the box and give Galena oxygen. Otherwise, I’m sure she would have suffocated from being in there for so long. The third miracle was that they scanned her microchip. The microchip honestly helped us be reunited with her. She could have survived and had a brand-new life with Brandy in California.


The last miracle was that the weather was ideal. It was very mild, and there were no big winter storms or huge heatwaves that could have severely harmed her. She didn’t overheat, and she didn’t freeze.



PL: How long was it before you and your husband realized “Oh my gosh, Galena is missing!”?

CC: The last time I had seen her was at 2pm on April 10th, 2024. I came home from my teaching job, and she came up and greeted me like she always does. She is my little shadow; she follows me around everywhere. Around 4pm or so, I remember thinking “I haven’t seen Galena… maybe she’s sleeping? I’m sure she’s fine.” I didn’t think too much about it because sometimes she’ll go in a hidden, sleeping spot.


Later I ran out to run and errand and my husband called me at 6pm and said “Carrie, have you seen Galena? Have you seen our cat? We have not been able to find her anywhere.” When he said that, I suddenly thought to myself, “Oh my gosh! I haven’t seen her since 2pm, something’s wrong.” I ran home as fast as I could from my errand [to help search].


For the next 7 days, we saw absolutely no sign of her. It was so confusing, obviously, because she was shipped in the package, which we found out later. We tore apart our entire home trying to find her. We triple-checked every single hiding place that she could possibly have been. We plastered flyers in our community, we got friends and family praying for her. With my religion [LDS], we did a one-day fast to find her. She’s a huge member of our family. It was very alarming, and the anxiety was so high not knowing where she was or what had happened to her.


For 7 days, we did everything we possibly could to find her, but nothing was working.



PL: That is so stressful. If that was my cat, I would have been panicking. That being said, what was your initial reaction when you got the call that Galena had been found?

CC: Oh, I went into shock. Like, I physically went into shock. My heart started racing, and I couldn’t think straight, I was getting tunnel vision. I could not believe what [Galena’s finder] was saying at all. I got a text message from PetLink on April 17th, 2024, that said that Galena’s microchip had been scanned. I didn’t even get a chance to react to that message, when 30 seconds later I got a phone call from a random person who told me that Galena was at a veterinarian’s office in California.


[Galena’s finder] told me she was safe and had been through a hard journey. They told me they found her in a big, oversized box with work boots in it. The moment that I heard her say work boots, I ran downstairs to tell my husband. I was flailing my arms, yelling “Galena’s been found!”. My emotions were running so high. I had [the person on the phone] repeat what she said, and when she said the piece about the Amazon package, my husband and I looked at each other and burst into tears. The reality set in of what had really happened to her.


It is really hard as a pet owner that we had some sort of responsibility for her suffering, but ultimately it was an accident. If we had known that she was in the box, we would have prevented the entire event from playing out. This could have been a full-blown tragedy, and we are so grateful that so many miracles happened to keep Galena alive during that time. Our prayers were totally answered.


[After that phone call] we dropped all our responsibilities and flew out to California as quickly as we could the next morning. You have to understand that Galena has been incredibly emotionally supportive to me through tough times.  I had gone through some health problems, and she has been so amazing and loving, and been with me through so many hard things in my life over the past six years. All I could think about in that moment [knowing she was alive] was that I wanted to be with her and support her the way she’s supported me.


We flew to LA and reunited with Galena in Jurupa Valley at Mira Loma Animal Hospital. The vet was amazing, and he gave us free medication to help ease and comfort Galena so we could safely drive her the 10-plus-hour drive back to Utah in our rental car. Galena’s  a superstar cat, and so resilient! When we were at the vet, before being reunited, Brandy was holding her and she said when Galena heard my voice, her ears perked up and she started to look around for me.

Photo courtesy of Carrie Clark



Photo courtesy of Carrie Clark


PL: I think it’s obvious that you and your husband love Galena so much. After the initial reunion, how is Galena doing now?

CC: She’s doing amazing! When we first saw her, she was too stressed to eat, but as soon as we got her into our rental car, I started hand-feeding her. It was incredible to feed and comfort her! I was so happy I could be there for her in her time of need. Now, she’s back to her old self and so happy to be at home again.

We’re so thankful for microchips. It’s not always easy to talk about something that was a mistake, but we feel that in sharing our story, we’re making it our mission to tell pet owners to microchip their pets and try not to make the same mistake that we made. We want to spread some goodness with Galena’s survival story.


Photo courtesy of Carrie Clark