Tiffany Hughes says her cat is trained to warn her when she needs to take medication for a cardiac-related condition.
According to the manager at the Bedford Plaza Hotel, the cat can also instigate a heart attack.
Hughes, her boyfriend, and the trained therapy cat named Orzo checked into the hotel recently for a night, en route from Maryland to vacation at a remote spot in Maine.
The next morning, they couldn’t find Orzo.
According to the manager on duty at the time, who only wanted to be identified as B.K., “We turned the room upside down.” He said the owner suggested a housekeeper could have made off with Orzo, but the manager pointed out that staff room keys don’t work until after 9 a.m.
B.K. said hotel personnel searched the kitchen, storage areas, the perimeter along The Great Road and Shawsheen Avenue. “We took pieces of chicken wings and put them on plates and left them on every floor,” he added. Meanwhile, the owner contacted Bedford police and the couple printed a bunch of flyers offering a $500 reward for finding Orzo.
Meanwhile, B.K. related, the third-floor room was assigned to another guest later in the day.
Sometime in the middle of the night, he recounted, the customer raced up to the front desk, frantic. He said he awoke and thought he was hallucinating – the pants he had laid out on the chair were moving. When he went to investigate, an animal leaped out – a cat, or perhaps a raccoon – and darted into the bathroom.
Hotel staff phoned the police, B.K. said: “We found the cat. It’s in the bathroom—of the same room.” Apparently, the cat had secreted himself in the frame of a heavy chest of drawers.
The next day, the hotel turned the cat over to police, and Hughes picked him up from the animal control officer.
Hughes said she would have offered a $500 reward even if Orzo wasn’t integral to her medical care. She said she has two other cats and they’re all considered “part of the family. I’m glad we got him back and everyone was reunited,” she said in a telephone interview.
B.K. said he and the hotel staff were unaware that those guests had a cat in the room until Orzo was reported missing.
According to the state government’s website, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, “a public accommodation may not ask you questions about your disability or demand to see certification, identification, or other proof of your animal’s training or status. If it is not apparent what your service animal does, the establishment may ask you only whether it is a service animal and what tasks it performs for you.”
Mike Rosenberg can be reached at [email protected], or 781-983-1763