George, a California Desert Tortoise, had been missing from his home in Turlock since Wednesday, May 18.
The search began last week on Friday, after George hadn’t been seen for two days. Richard Melton, the owner of the tortoise, reached out to his neighbors through nextdoor.com, an online neighborhood community. “Please come and help me find this magnificent creature and bring him back to safety,” Melton posted. He then began handing out flyers and spreading the word via social media.
After his attempts had proven unsuccessful, the desperate owner then offered a reward for the safe return of his precious pet, “I will pay $500 to anyone that finds him”.
Dozens of neighbors, friends, and fellow Turlockers took to the streets in search of the missing tortoise. Many families started evening walks or bike rides, in hopes that they would be able to locate the desert tortoise. Others volunteered to make more flyers and post them around the area.
Almost a week later, there was still no sign of George. That's when Melton decided to raise the reward. “Thank you everyone for your help searching” He posted to the community. “Unfortunately, George is still missing. The reward increased to $750, no questions asked.”
Then Richard Melton had another idea. He was going to have another tortoise donated, but not to take the place of George, he was looking for a female, so in case he was out “looking for love” he could pick up her scent. “It's a long shot. But if he's in the local 3/4 mile range, he could detect her and come running... well.. crawling.”
Shortly after the new plan was in effect, all of the efforts of the community had finally paid off.
Someone dropped George off onto his front porch, rang the doorbell, and then quickly drove away. When Melton opened the door and saw a cold and wet George sitting there, his initial thought was that he had drowned. He grabbed him and lifted him up, and George exhaled. “I started crying my eyes out and went to put him in the sun... in a few minutes he opened his eyes and started walking around!”
Grateful that his beloved George had been returned, Melton thanked his fellow Turlockers for all their help. “To all my neighbors that helped and put in the effort to look... this Sunday we are having a celebration BBQ. Come by and get a selfie with George!”