Katy Magazine, October 2017
Written by Gail G. Collins
When Michael LaBounty’s home phone rang around 10 p.m. near the end of July, he felt annoyed. He was sure the 800-number on the caller ID was a sales call. Then, his mobile phone rang, and he picked it up. A woman identified herself and spoke about a micro-chip for dogs. “I don’t want a chip,” Michael said, confused. But this wasn’t a sales call; it was the call the LaBounty family had waited more than three years to receive. Their dog, Beau, had been found. Michael couldn’t speak. “It was full stop, silence,” he said, “And it was a ‘deer in the headlights’ look from my wife, Leslie.”
A lucky match at CAP
The family had owned two dogs when they moved to Katy in 2005, but they grew old and passed on. Sons Andrew and Collin, of course, missed their four-legged friends. “In January 2012, after a year of grieving, and another year of nagging from the boys,” Michael said with a laugh, “we got another dog.” The LaBountys visited Citizens for Animal Protection, a private, non-profit outfit that offers shelter, foster care, adoption and other services. They chose Lucky, a three-month-old pup, believed to be a mix of Rhodesian ridgeback and chow. They renamed him Beau.
It was instant affection all around, especially for Collin, still in grade school. “He was so attached—they were like brothers—and he found comfort in Beau,” Michael said. The smart puppy was quickly housebroken, and learned to sit and shake hands. Beau was skittish of bad weather and new people, and this fear explained how he could become lost and stay lost for so long.
Blown away by the storm
Beau was an inside-outside dog, and on Friday, March 28, 2014, the family went out to celebrate a friend’s birthday. They left the dog in the yard, but an approaching storm blew open the gate. A neighbor saw Beau bolt, but couldn’t retrieve him. She was frantic when the LaBountys returned.
“A cavalry of friends spent a weekend looking for Beau,” Michael said. They posted on Facebook and Lost Pets, hung flyers, visited shelters and called around. It was an intense search, but Beau was truly lost. Then, calls came in to report a dog. Each time, Michael’s heart leapt, and he dropped everything to follow up. He spent hours searching shelters and areas where the dog had been spotted. This continued for two years. After a year, Andrew and Collin began an earnest campaign for another dog. The family visited Special Pals, Houston’s longest running no-kill shelter and adopted a 50-pound black lab. Zeus was a year old. Soon after, the phone rang with the happy news about Beau.
The happy reunion
A group had rescued him, and not a moment too soon. The next day, Animal Control would come and pick up Beau. The group had to reach out to Michael LaBounty that night. Where had Beau been for more than three years? The healthy, 40-pound dog had run 12 miles away and ended up in a long term construction site for a new high school and junior high near Interstate 10 and Clay Road. Beau wouldn’t come to the workers, though they tried regularly, but the dog stayed onsite. The men fed him, made sure he had water, and nicknamed him Chance. Once the dog romped his way to the roof of the incomplete school building and stood atop it like a mascot.
Several other dogs formed a friendly group that ran rampant about the huge complex, but in the months as construction closed out, the dogs were caught and turned over to shelters. All except Beau. Workers and teachers tried everything—even baiting a trap with a ribeye steak—but the dog was wary. On the last night, a professional arrived with a tranquilizer gun to round up Beau. His microchip was discovered and scanned, and the LaBounty family was called.
Back where he belongs
Reunited with his family, Beau recognized his home and his name immediately. A family-connected veterinarian confirmed Beau’s health with a small case of heartworms. The well-behaved dog quickly grew to adore Zeus. “They are playful, best buddies,” Michael said. “It’s like Beau went on a three-year vacation to learn about life and jumped right back into ours.” The dog’s tail is constantly wagging, and he hops into bed and snuggles up each night. “It’s like he’s saying, ‘Don’t let me go.’”
Michael recommends every owner microchip their dog, and then, register them online. “It turned out to be his saving grace. We never would’ve found Beau otherwise.” KM