How an ABC13 interview and Houston Astros worker reunited a dog and family after Pasadena tornado

Miya Shay Image
Saturday, January 28, 2023
How ABC13 and an Astros employee reunite family with dog after tornado
The family's dog had run away during the tornado, but thanks to ABC13 and an alert neighbor, the pooch was reunited with her family and became a household name.

PASADENA, Texas (KTRK) -- The Ayala family is all smiles after a devastating and historic tornado tore down their family home of 35 years in Pasadena, but that is because a beloved pooch named Coco, was back in their arms.

On Tuesday, Norma Ayala, the family matriarch, was the only person home with the family's two small dogs. Her son was at the doctor's office, and the teenage granddaughters were at school. As Norma huddled in the house, holding on to the two dogs, Coco ran away.

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After scrambling out of her destroyed home, Norma was worried that Coco would never be found.

"My neighbor heard, 'Where's Coco, where's Coco?' Don't worry about me. Help me find Coco," she said.

When ABC13 met Ruben Ayala a day ago, he was choking back tears talking about his missing dog, who he loved so much.

"That's my thing right now. I'm going door to door," he said.

As Ruben and his granddaughter were going door to door searching for Coco, ABC13 featured her photo in the 4 p.m. news broadcast. Two blocks away, Alexis Pedraza's parents screamed so loud it woke her up.

"What woke me up is my mom and dad, saying, 'Oh my God, it's her on TV!' And that's when we knew that ABC13's been in our neighborhood and that's why we put it on, and luckily we did, and we would never have known about it at all."

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Shortly after Tuesday's storm, Pedraza, a college student who works for the Houston Astros, had found Coco shivering in a neighbor's backyard pool.

"She was just freezing," Pedraza remembered, who quickly scooped up the dog and spent three hours warming her up in the family car with the heater turned on.

Pedraza kept Coco overnight, hoping to find the owner. When her parents saw Coco's picture on ABC13, they quickly jumped in the car, drove around the neighborhood, and found the Ayala family.

"Once again, thank you so much for saving her," Ruben said after meeting with Pedraza again on Thursday.

"I'd want someone to do it for me," she replied, noting she is also a dog lover.

Now, with Coco found, the family can finally turn their attention back to their house. Norma Ayala had no insurance, so the family has started a GoFundme, hoping to raise enough money to make repairs.

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