By Rosie Powers
Before the phone rang during their second night of vacation in Cancun, the Pulido family had no idea that their dog, Asia, was lost.
They also didn't realize that she had escaped on to the Eisenhower Expressway.
The call came from their grandmother on April 4, who said the 10-year-old rescue Chow Chow had escaped during a walk and was nowhere to be found.
"She's always been there, we've had her since I was a kid," said Joseph Pulido, 24, of Berwyn.
After receiving word that she had gone missing, the family immediately flew back on April 5 to start looking for Asia.
"We didn't know if she got stolen or hit by a car," Pulido said.
Shortly after Asia's escape — and unbeknownst to the Pulido family — she had been spotted by drivers along the Eisenhower Expressway in Forest Park. Multiple IDOT trucks, local Samaritans and the Forest Park police collaborated to safely capture Asia from the highway and brought her to the Animal Care League in Oak Park.
Robin Akers, Animal Care League volunteer, said the ACL has a contract with local police departments to hold lost animals for three to five days, after which they become responsible for the animal.
"It took us several days to get in kennel with her because she was very scared," Akers said. "We ended up having her for nine days."
After returning from vacation, the Pulido family tried to locate Asia based on a list of local shelters they had received from police, but with no success.
"As soon as we got back from vacation, we started looking around neighborhoods, asking people, went to animal shelters -- but no one had seen her," Pulido said. "We had given up hope."
But on April 12, Pulido and his brother checked the Animal Care League on a whim. Pulido said they were only in the area to retrieve his brother's car, which had gotten booted.
"We knocked on the door and asked to see if she was there," Pulido said. "I walked in and she was right there!"
Although Asia had a collar, her identification was missing and the Animal Care League soon determined that she had no microchip, which made locating her owners difficult.
"If [the animals] don't have a microchip or lost their collar, a lot of them don't get claimed, so she was very lucky," Akers said.
Pulido returned with his mother the next day, on April 13, to bring Asia home.
"It was a really exciting moment because I could tell she was sad for being lost for so long," Pulido said.