Dog survives 116 days on its own; reunites with family after Valley Fire

A dog that had been missing for more than 100 days since the Valley Fire was recently reunited with her owners.

Darci Andrews and Bernie Hosmer of Hidden Valley Lake said their pets were left trapped in their home when evacuations began last September. Andrews said authorities did not allow the family through roadblocks to get to their home to rescue the pets before the fire destroyed their house.

Andrews said three dogs, two cats, and two rats were left inside the home. One of their dogs, Tia, was the first and only dog to be found alive on Jan. 6.

“She’s a miracle dog to be able to get out of a burning house, out of a burning neighborhood and survive out in the elements that we’ve been having for 116 days,” Andrews said.

Somehow Tia, a mixed breed, survived for 116 days among the rubble.

“We looked and we looked and we chased down every lead,” Andrews said.

It was a neighbor down the street from the family’s home that spotted Tia last week still wearing her dog tag. Andrews said the man told her he called the number on Tia’s collar, but the line no longer existed after the fire, so he looked up her up on Facebook and called her at work.

“This guy started describing Tia over the phone to me and that he had her and I started bawling,” Andrews said. “He went above and beyond. He’s like our family hero right now.”

Hosmer said it was a happy reunion.

“She came over kissed me, wagging her tail,” he said. “She was really glad to be home. We always said if an animal would make it out of the house it would be her because she’s the smartest of all the dogs. Sure enough, here she is.”

The family believes Tia was trying to return to where the family’s home once stood.

Dr. Joanna Holtz at the Middletown Animal Hospital said Tia likely suffered injuries, but healed and is in good health. She said the likelihood that missing pets will be found alive after the Valley Fire is slim, but owners should not give up looking.

“Tia is a great example of what our pets are capable of so I think it’s a great idea to keep an eye out, keep looking,” Dr. Joanna Holtz said. “Don’t give up hope yet.”

Tia may be one lucky dog, but Andrews said they are the lucky ones.

“It’s our own miracle, to have her back and realize everything that she went through,” Andrews added.
“She’s an amazing dog.”