San Diego dogs’ adventure ends in Yucca Valley

Cristina Ochoa reunites with Popeye and Pirulin, two escape artists who got away from her in San Diego and were found in Yucca Valley.

YUCCA VALLEY — A San Diego area woman’s search for her two lost dogs ended unexpectedly Sunday at the Yucca Valley Animal Shelter.

Cristina Ochoa lives in a small community south of San Diego with her two dogs, Popeye, a Chihuahua mix, and Pirulin, a terrier mix.

Popeye and Pirulin found a way to get loose and disappeared 2½ months ago. Since then, Ochoa has been searching for her two best friends.

On Sunday, Popeye was found running loose in Yucca Valley and was taken to the animal shelter, said Doug Smith, animal care and control manager for the town.

Popeye was wearing a tag from a veterinarian in the San Diego area, so shelter staff contacted that vet and got Ochoa’s information. In the meantime, however, the shelter got a phone call from a person who had been pet-sitting Popeye in Yucca Valley.

Shelter staff began an investigation to determine who the rightful owner was. As they worked on the mystery, Ochoa’s second missing dog was found in Yucca Valley as well, and was taken to the animal shelter.

“It seems the dogs had been on a bit of an adventure,” Smith said.

Once they got loose from Ochoa, they were found by a person near San Diego.

“The dogs were healthy and very friendly,” Smith said.

The person who found them gave them to a couple in Yucca Valley, without contacting the veterinarian listed on the tag.

“The couple in Yucca Valley, not knowing the story behind the dogs, took them in and provided them with a loving home and care,” Smith said. “They had both dogs for the past 2½ months. Then Popeye escaped from them and was brought to the animal shelter in Yucca Valley.”

When the animal shelter contacted Ochoa, she was elated to hear her dogs had been found safe. She came to the shelter the next day with her family to pick up her beloved pets.

“By the reactions between Ochoa and the dogs, it was clear the dogs loved Ochoa and they had missed her and Ochoa loved the dogs and missed them,” Smith said.

While this is an unusual case, Smith reminds pet owners pets can get lost in a split second. “Having a license, ID tag, microchip or other traceable information on your pet is the best way to ensure the owner and the pet can be reunited,” he said.

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