Austin man takes to social media after his cat was reportedly nabbed by his Lyft driver

Austin man takes to social media after his cat was reportedly nabbed by his Lyft driver


Amaris Encinas
 USA TODAY

After a Lyft driver nabbed Palash Pandey’s cat Saturday afternoon, he turned to the internet for help. The pair have since been reunited, but not without struggle.

It all started when the Austin resident ordered a Lyft to take his cat, Tux, to the vet. As he made his way around the vehicle to grab Tux, who was located on the passenger side, the driver took off. 

Pandey called and messaged the driver on the Lyft app numerous times but didn’t receive a response until a couple of hours later, when the driver claimed he didn’t have the cat. 

Left without anywhere to turn after filing a report with non-emergency phone number 311, Pandey reached out to his online community for help.

“The driver has stopped responding again and I don’t have any way to contact him besides the app. I have offered him money for bringing her back, but he just doesn’t respond. Is there anyone who can help?! What else can I do?!” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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@AskLyft My Lyft driver drove off with my pet cat still in the car.

I was taking my cat to a vet appointment, I was sitting behind the driver and had the cat carrier on the floor of the passenger side back seat.

— palash pandey (@palashp40616755) September 30, 2023

Here’s what we know.

Lyft’s initial response wasn’t great

Unable to reach his driver, Pandey contacted Lyft to receive some assistance. A customer representative informed him the driver had been reached and told that it is “an urgent situation.”

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The rep also noted that if the driver returned the “item”, Pandey would have to pay a standard return fee of $20 for the driver’s time and effort. 

The driver answered a few of the messages saying that he checked the backseat but was unable to find the cat. He stopped responding shortly after.

The driver eventually reached out to Pandey to say he was contacted by the Austin Police Department. He mentioned he would have canceled the ride if he knew there had been a cat in the vehicle, due to his allergy, and he drove off quickly because he was startled. Several other passengers were picked up after Pandey’s ride. 

Pandey continued to ask Lyft online if they could provide any additional information so he could retrace his driver’s steps and find his cat, he wrote on Oct. 1. 

Lyft CEO changes tune

Later that night, Lyft CEO David Risher took to X to let those who had inquired about Pandey and Tux know that drivers and riders in Austin had been alerted to be on the lookout. 

Risher asked the public to refrain from vilifying the driver as he’s received unwarranted threats. Lyft deactivated the driver, but it remains unclear if the suspension will continue.

Responding to a comment under his initial post, Risher noted that the situation was more complicated than it first appeared, and that the focus had turned to finding Tux. 

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Here’s what all riders and drivers in Austin will be seeing soon. Several good tips have come in already thx to the @lyft community. pic.twitter.com/x7qNK2Iz9s

— David Risher (@davidrisher) October 2, 2023

Lyft reportedly hired investigators to assist in the search and were able to locate Tux by Monday. The carrier was not recovered.

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“Tux has been found! We’re focused on making sure Tux has everything she needs right now. We are actively working with all involved to fully understand the situation. We must do better in how we support our community. And, we will,” Lyft wrote on X.

Owner’s faith restored after collective community effort

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Just got back from the vet. Tux has clean bill of health. I’m quite sure she thinks she was just playing the game stray in VR 😂 Thank you everyone for helping.
You guys have restored my faith in the community. pic.twitter.com/ehm1sTRxVV

— palash pandey (@palashp40616755) October 2, 2023

Tux was tired, dehydrated and covered in fleas when Pandey finally made contact with her, he wrote on X. 

His plan was to take the cat to the vet as soon as she stabilized, but she started to eat wet food again soon after and received a clean bill of health, a quick visit to the vet confirmed. 

“I’m quite sure she thinks she was just playing the game stray in VR. Thank you everyone for helping. You guys have restored my faith in the community,” Pandey wrote. 

Risher apologized to Pandey on X, stating how happy he was to see the two reunited and hopes that Lyft can continue to be a part of their life. 

What Pandey is focused on now is getting justice for Tux. 

He wants to make sure that the driver faces consequences, if he in fact, dumped Tux on the side of the road. 

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