RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com) — One dog has a hair-raising tale of theft, concealed identity, a brazen escape and a lucky reunion with its owner.

The Lowery family says “Coco” the pit bull was nabbed from their backyard in Riverside County.

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And whoever took Coco went to extreme measures to cover up the crime. In an effort to disguise the light brown dog with white patches, the dog-napper used human hair dye to change her coat to black, according to the family.

So when a black pit bull turned up at Riverside County Animal Services, workers didn’t immediately realize that it was the same dog that had been adopted out from their shelter to the Lowery’s months prior. Apparently, Coco had broken free from the confines of her new home.

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Coco might never have found her way back home if it weren’t for her microchip.

A worker told the Lowery’s: “‘Ok, it’s your dog,’ but other than that I would’ve never guessed it would’ve been Coco.”

Heather Lowery said her kids initially didn’t recognize their dog: “I put her in the car and took her to the daycare to pick up the kids…and the kids were like ‘Who’s that? What is that? Did we get a new dog?’ And I was like, ‘No, that’s Coco.'”

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Even though Coco doesn’t look like the same dog as when she left home, her family says she’s back to her normal self and playing with her canine pal “Cleatis.”