When Patucha the Maltese wandered away from her Pawtucket home three yards ago they were devastated.
"My niece was crying," said Fernando Silva. The dog had been a present given to his 11-year-old niece Eduarda.
The family had given up hope of finding Patucha when they picked up and moved to Brazil this past spring.
"We didn't think we would find her again," said Silva.
But Saturday they got a phone call that changed everything. Patucha had been found and was at the North Providence Animal Shelter. They were able to track down her owners thanks to a microchip that had been embedded in her skin as puppy.
When Patucha was taken to Ferguson Animal Hospital the veterinarian scanned her for the chip and got a hit. Animal Control Officer Ernest Calandra was able to track down the dogs owners address registered to the chip.
"You can take collars off the dogs, you can remove tags, but the chip once it's in there it's in for life," said Calandra.
Patucha's family had moved from the address, but Silva, the little girls uncle, still lived there. He was able to connect officers with Patucha's family now living over seas.
"It's a great feeling because we get a lot of strays in here and to actually have this happen, especially over the amount of time she was missing, and it's around the holidays, so it's a really good story," said Calandra.
Silva and his two children took Petucha home with them. They are now working to get her the paperwork she needs to get her on a plane to Brazil so she can be reunited with a now 14-year-old Eduarda.
"Everybody's excited to get her before Christmas," said Silva.
Micro chipping is not mandatory in the state of Rhode Island, however animal control officers we spoke to strongly encourage doing so.