HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After nine days on the streets, the future isn't good for a lost pet, especially a pet wandering near Beltway 8.
That makes the story of Hera, a 'tripod' or 3-legged dog, remarkable.
"I think it was God," said Jessica Tapia, who, along with boyfriend Michael Morena, is Hera's family.
She escaped from the fenced backyard on the night of July 4, frightened by fireworks. The family drove around the neighborhood through the night, and left lost pet signs throughout the area.
Despite reports of sightings, the trail went cold until this week, when Tapia was sent pictures of Hera in a Beltway tollbooth building. She was recognized because of the lost pet signs that noted she was a tripod.
Tapia and Moreno contacted the Precinct 7 Constable's Office that patrols that section of the Beltway. They were told a deputy had responded to a call of a dog in a toll booth. He took her to the Houston Humane Society on Almeda Road, but it was overnight, when the facility was closed. Tapia went to the shelter, but no Hera.
Moreno said the deputy later contacted them and said he left Hera outside the facility.
"He said he left her there in hopes that the food or the smell of the dogs would keep her there," she said.
It didn't. Hera wandered for several more days. On Friday morning, Moreno and Vega were putting up more missing pet signs on Almeda Road when Morena heard a dog panting behind him. It was Hera, who immediately ran out of a used car parking lot and up to her owners.
A statement from the constable's office noted an increase in stray animals on the Beltway, creating dangers for the animals and drivers alike. In response to Hera's situation, it stated, "Deputies followed the HCTRA proper protocol by taking the dog out of harm's way from the dangers of the tollroads and tunnels."
The couple is glad to have the family together again.
"We're not mad," said Moreno. "But she could have been home sooner. What if it were your dog?"
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3-legged dog lost on July 4 trots to owners trying to find her