WEST VALLEY — A family heartbroken by their dog's disappearance got the call they had been hoping for — five months later.
The Vasquez family's 3-year-old dog, Lucy, went missing on May 24.
"She's a Chihuahua and a wiener dog: a Chi-wienie," Samantha Vasquez said.
Lucy escaped through a fence in the backyard, and the family said she was as much of a member of the family as anyone. Vasquez searched, posted pictures online and reported Lucy missing immediately, but no one reported seeing her until Oct. 30, more than five months later.
A family who believed they were doing the right thing ended up breaking the law when they kept Lucy after finding her. A lesser-known law prohibits anyone from taking in a lost or stray animal that's been reported missing or stolen.
Vasquez said at first she thought it was her work calling, but it was voice mail from Animal Services.
"Samantha, we have a little Chihuahua here," the voice mail said. "I don't have a name on her, but she's got a little, she's got a microchip that traces back to you."
"She looked at me (and) I said, ‘Lucy!' and she started squealing for me," Vasquez said. "I was bawling."
But a red flag was raised for animal services when Vasquez said that the collar and tags Lucy was wearing where not Vasquez's.
Lucy was with a different, loving family the whole time, but the family that found Lucy made one mistake — they didn't tell anyone that they had found a lost dog.
"(Animal Services) said that's illegal to keep a dog that's not yours, and (Lucy) has a microchip," Vasquez said.
Animal Services would not release the name of the family that had Lucy for over five months because they will not be charged with a crime. However, they will have to pay a $100 fine for keeping a dog that had been reported missing.