Ohio woman reunited with lost tortoise after two-week search

Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Kathie Heisinger poses with her desert tortoise Otis after they were reunited in Sebring, Ohio.
Kevin Graff ~ The Review via AP

CLEVELAND -- A wayward tortoise's surprising trek around Ohio ended happily for its owner after a two-week search.

Otis the California desert tortoise managed to push open a sliding glass door May 30 and escape from Kathie Heisinger's home in Sebring in Mahoning County.

Heisinger created flyers offering a $200 reward that was quickly matched by the Sebring Volunteer Fire Department, prompting her to make the reward $500 total.

Village residents soon joined Heisinger in her search around Sebring.

"There are a lot of good people in the world," Heisinger said.

Otis quickly became a minor celebrity.

Facebook posts and shares, newspaper and television stories and the flyers led to more than 100 phone calls from people who believed they had spotted him.

Heisinger then heard rumors employees of an amusement company working the Sebring Fireman's Festival the weekend Otis went missing might have scooped him up.

She called the company headquartered 20 miles away in Stark County, and the owner told Heisinger his employees indeed had taken possession of Otis -- at least temporarily.

Otis once had again escaped after knocking over the cardboard box the workers thought would contain him.

The owner kicked in another $200 to make the reward $700, and Heisinger, her sister and friends resumed their search.

But by this time, Otis already had found another new home. Tyren O'Steen spotted the tortoise on a road near the amusement company and thought it would make a good pet for his three children.

Then last week, after reading a newspaper story about Otis, O'Steen called Heisinger, who was reunited with her beloved pet of 25 years.

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