UNIVERSAL CITY, Texas – A Universal City woman is on her way to Arizona on Sunday to reunite with her service dog after five long years apart.
Diranda Braswell said her dog, Baby Blue Bell, or Baby, was stolen while she was living in Arizona in 2014. An animal control officer recently found the dog wandering the streets there and tracked down Braswell using the information on Baby’s microchip.
Now, almost five years to the day since her dog disappeared, Braswell is anxious to get back to Arizona and see her long-lost friend.
“I’m just hoping she remembers who I am,” Braswell said.
Braswell, a U.S. Navy veteran, said she has post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety, so she had Baby registered as a service dog.
Baby was her best friend, Braswell said, and would go everywhere with her owner.
“I’ve been missing her like crazy. You can ask my husband. I talk about her all the time,” Braswell said about Baby.
“She knew when I was going to have an anxiety attack or when I was panicky or when I needed just comfort. It didn't even take a whole lot of training. She just knew,” Braswell said.
In late March 2014, Braswell was living in Glendale, Arizona, but was visiting family in San Antonio. While Baby was staying in Arizona with a friend, she disappeared.
“They let her out to use the bathroom, and they said somebody broke the lock on the fence and they took her,” Braswell said. “I was (in) straight panic mode. I was crying.”
For five years, there was little news, and Braswell has since gotten a new dog named Zarah. But Baby stayed on her mind.
“I still have that missing her feeling, you know? I always wonder where she's been and how she's been doing,” Braswell said.
There was an occasion when Braswell said authorities had told her they had found Baby, but before she could get back to Arizona to claim the dog, Braswell said authorities told her they had lost Baby.
On Thursday, Braswell said she got a text message from the microchip company saying that Baby had been found again. She later called animal control to confirm it was her dog. This time, the dog was in Peoria, Arizona, not far from where she had disappeared.
“My heart stopped. I literally, like – I was frozen,” Braswell said.
Although Braswell’s family has grown since losing Baby, there is still a place for the dog in her home, as shown by the excitement among the family.
“I want Baby in my bed,” proclaimed Braswell’s 4-year-old daughter, Kaliah, with whom Braswell was pregnant when Baby disappeared.
There is a possible wrinkle to this happy ending, though. Braswell said someone else has come forward to claim Baby as their dog. It sounds like it’s possible Baby was rescued and adopted out despite her microchip linking her to Braswell.
KSAT reached out to Peoria officials to confirm the details of the situation but has not heard back.