HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A Henrico mother is desperate to get her dog back after she says Animal Control gave it to another family, even though the pet was microchipped.
Dogs are often called man's best friend, but in Debra Escobar's case, her dog Gracie was her daughter Zoe's best friend.
"She used to sleep with her, feed her, dress her," said Escobar.
Escobar bought the Bichon Frise/Shih Tzu mix for Zoe who has special needs. The duo had a strong bond, so Zoe was crushed when Gracie ran away in May 2015.
"Gracie is the type of dog, if you open the door she likes to run out, and she likes to explore the neighborhood," said Escobar.
The family searched the neighborhood and even put up ads on social media to no avail. Since then Zoe carries around a stuffed dog named Gracie, as the Escobars prayed for the real Gracie's return.
Then last month Escobar learned Henrico Animal Control picked up Gracie, identifying her by her microchip.
"We found her! We were excited," Escobar said.
However, by the time Escobar got in touch with Animal Control five days later, she says the dog had been given to another family who claimed Gracie was theirs.
Escobar says she begged the other family to hand over Gracie, and even offered them money for the dog, but they refused.
"I want my dog. She's a part of our family, so it's like how can you not surrender the dog? The chip proves it's not your dog," said Escobar.
Henrico Police say Gracie was released to a person who came forward looking for his missing dog and had documentation supporting the claim the dog was his.
"The man said it's his dog, so now it's my word against his. His word against mine," Escobar said.
NBC12 spoke with that man who says he found the dog back in 2015 running through a busy intersection and rescued it. He said he's happy to let a judge decide who the dog's rightful owner is.
In an effort to get Gracie back, Escobar filed a civil suit. A court date is set for next month.
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