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Community rallies to find missing tortoise
George the Tortoise
George, a California desert tortoise, has been missing from his Neil Avenue home for a week. There is a cash reward for the return of George, no questions asked. - photo by Photo Contributed

Tortoises aren't known for their speed, but one Turlock tortoise seems to have made a quick getaway. George the California desert tortoise has been missing for a week now from his home near Dutcher Middle School.

While George could have ran away, it's also possible someone saw him in the yard and took him. No matter how George left his home, his owner just wants him back safely.

"It's horrible not knowing where he is or what happened to him. It's hard to sleep at night not knowing that he is safe," said George's owner, Andee Cantatore.

Cantatore is offering a cash reward for the safe return of her tortoise, no questions asked.

She has had George since she was 11-years old and considers him part of the family. For the past eight months, however, George has been living with family friend Richard Melton because Cantatore wasn't able to take the tortoise with her when she moved from Turlock to Georgia. Desert tortoises are a protected native species and it's illegal to take them out of the state.

George is about a foot long and weighs 12 pounds. According to Cantatore, he enjoys sun bathing in flower gardens and is most active in the morning.

"He's a pretty big guy," said Cantatore. "You'd notice him walking down the street or laying in your flower garden. If everyone in that neighborhood could check their gardens, that would be great."

Since George was found missing, Melton has put up missing pet posters around town, canvassed the neighborhood and Cantatore created a Find George Facebook page @FindGeorgetheTortoise.

"The community support has been overwhelming. Hundreds have shared the Facebook page and people have come out to look for him around town," said Cantatore.

She's received multiple calls already about found tortoises and although none of them have been George, at least two missing pets were reunited with their owners.

To report a possible sighting of George, leave a message on the Find George Facebook page, or call 209-271-2909.

"Having a missing pet is the worst feeling in the world. The thought of him lost, alone and hungry is terrifying," said Cantatore.