Her dog vanished after surviving N.M. crash that killed her partner. It’s back home now


Melanie Garcia was reunited with her dog, Otis, after he survived a car crash that killed her partner.

Screengrab from KOB 4 segment

A New Mexico woman found a glimmer of hope during a dark time when she was reunited with her dog following her partner’s death in a car crash.

Melanie Garcia and her longtime partner, Kevin Barton, weren’t married, KRQE reported. That didn’t stop her from referring to him as her husband, and didn’t keep the two from caring for three dogs together at their home in Albuquerque.

Barton had taken the dogs with him on Nov. 20 to grab dinner, KOAT reported. He was turning when he was hit by an SUV, driven by a suspected drunk driver, police said.

Barton was killed in the crash, and two of the couple’s dogs were taken to a veterinary hospital. The third dog, Otis, ran from the scene and was missing for nearly three full days, leaving Garcia to worry and ask the community for help finding him, KRQE reported.

Finally, someone spotted Otis near the crash site. He had an injured leg, but was in good shape overall, KRQE reported.

Garcia called out Otis’ nickname — “‘Mama’s,’ because he was a mama’s boy,” she said — and he immediately responded, looking like he was relieved to see Garcia, KRQE reported.

“Kevin, Kevin, Kevin made this happen,” Garcia told KOB 4. “He’s going to be there for all of us to take care of us.”

/The driver of the SUV, Casino Salazar, 19, was arrested and charged with homicide by vehicle-DWI, having an open container and negligent use of a firearm, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

Vandana Ravikumar is a McClatchy Real-Time reporter. She grew up in northern Nevada and studied journalism and political science at Arizona State University. Previously, she reported for USA Today, The Dallas Morning News, and Arizona PBS.

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