By Elvia Limón

The Dallas Morning News

CARROLLTON, Texas — John and Diana Lepsch didn’t play the lottery, but they got Lucky anyway.

The Carrollton couple showed up at the city’s animal adoption center on a recent Wednesday morning with their 5-year-old granddaughter, Lacey Diaz, just to see who would win the lottery to take home Lucky, a 4-month-old Chihuahua mix who survived a heroin overdose last month.

But when the sole lottery player, Brad Lepp, saw Lacey, he quietly turned in his ticket, leaving the animal for her and her family.

“I turned around and saw this little girl and I said, ‘Oh, boy, I can’t take this dog from this little girl,’” Lepp said later. “I just kind of snuck out of there and let her have the dog. I’m sure she’s got a lot more energy than I do … There was just no way I could take the dog with me.”

The Lepsches, who arrived at the Carrollton Animal Control Services Center with no plans to leave with a pet, were pleasantly surprised at their good fortune.

“We decided to bring Lacey here for the event and not necessarily to adopt him,” Lepsch said. “We’re very happy. When we heard Lucky’s story, we figured it would be nice to see Lucky go to a good home, but now we can spoil him rotten.”

A ‘miraculous outcome’

Lucky was rescued in late February after Debbie Hutchins, a Carrollton animal services officer, found him lying on the floorboard of a truck parked outside a Home Depot.

The dog’s former owners, 38-year-old Nina Crawford and 46-year-old Thomas Romero, had left him in the vehicle while they switched price tags on products in the store, police said.

“When I looked into the passenger’s side of the truck, he was just a blob of red fur lying still on the floorboard,” Hutchins said. “Then I picked him up and he was almost completely lifeless.”

Crawford and Romero remain in the Dallas County jail on charges of heroin possession and fraudulent destruction, removal or concealment of writing.

Hutchins saw Lucky leave with his new family Wednesday and said his transformation has been a “miraculous outcome.”

“Seeing a dog that was on the verge of death now jumping around with his girl is amazing,” she said. “I hope this is a once-in-a-lifetime case that I never see again.”

Lucky wagged his tail and licked Lacey’s face as she held him for the first time. Lacey said she first heard Lucky’s story in the news, and knew she wanted to give him a forever home.

“I really wanted him so badly once I saw him on TV,” she said. “I said, ‘we have to go get him.’”

John Lepsch said he sees Lucky’s adoption as a way of giving back to the city where the family has lived for 26 years.

“We like the community and we try to help out whenever we can,” he said. “We try to help out the people and animals who are less fortunate, including Lucky.”

Three’s a crowd

Lepsch said he isn’t sure what kind of accommodations his family, which he said already owns two other dogs, will make for Lucky. But whatever they decide, Lepsch said he’s excited to welcome another pet into his home.

“Now we are a three-dog family,” he said, laughing. “The two other dogs already sleep with us, so it’s going to be a crowded bed.”

Lacey said last Wednesday morning that her mother, Michelle Diaz, had not yet been told about their new furry family member and expected her to be shocked by the news.

Lacey and her mom, who live in Providence Village in Denton County, currently have two cats and a dog. But unlike their other pets, who she said belong to her mother, Lacey said the 5.6-pound Lucky would be all hers.

“My mom will be so crazy, because I know she doesn’t want another dog,” Lacey said. “But he’s going to be my dog and stay in my bedroom.”