Family Reunited With Dog 4 Months After Pooch Thought to Have Perished in Massive Wildfire

The Andrews family was miraculously reunited with Tia.

ByKelly Johnstone
January 14, 2016, 4:40 PM

— -- Darci Andrews and her family are celebrating an extraordinary reunion after their dog was found alive four months after they believed the dog, Tia, died after being locked in a house that burned down in a massive wildfire.

Andrews, 58, said she thought she had lost everything when her home of 18 years was reduced to ashes in the Valley wildfire that devastated Lake County, California, on Sept. 12, burning down some 1,200 houses.

“We lost everything but the clothes on our backs,” she told ABC News today.

Andrews was out of town with her daughter, Gillian, when they were told they could not return home due to evacuations. All of their pets, three dogs, two cats, and two rats were left inside their home.

“Two days later, we got a text message picture that our house had been destroyed,” Andrews said.

Once the evacuations were lifted, the Andrews moved into a trailer on a Hidden Valley campground.

“Every day, my boyfriend would go back to the property and sift through the ashes to see if he could find the remains,” Andrews said, noting he found the remains of a dog that was inside a kennel cage at the time of the fire, but the Andrews held out hope for the rest of their pets.

“I created this flyer and posted it up. I posted their pictures on all of the Facebook sites. We chased down every lead,” Andrews said, but none of their animals turned up. “It would break our hearts every single time.”

After four months of searching, Andrews said she and her family began to lose hope.

“We had finally started to make peace with the idea that they were all gone,” she said, noting her daughter was so devastated by the loss of their 7-year-old Siberian Husky-Pitbull mix, Tia, she even got a tattoo of the dog in memoriam.

Then last Wednesday, Andrews received a call at the Twin Pines Casino, where she works, from a local man, Tyler Wages, who said he had found a lost dog.

“I go inside his house and they bring out my Tia. I started bawling!" she said. "She came up to me wagging her tail and licked my face. I hugged the hell out of this guy!”

Wages told Andrews that he found Tia in the woods by his house, a quarter-mile away from where the Andrews had lived. It took him a month to coax Tia with treats into his home, then he was able to make out Andrews' name on the collar tag but the phone number was not working because it was the number to her burned-down house, he told Andrews. He searched and found her on Facebook and saw she worked at Twin Pines Casino, she said.

Andrews family said Wages is their hero.

“Tia was out there for 116 days. She made it out of a burning house, out of a burning neighborhood,” Andrews said. “She’s our own personal little miracle.”

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