By G. Mark Norman, DVM
Many of you have inquired about the fate of Beau, my sister Ellen’s bearded collie who was lost in my hometown of Keokuk, IA. There’s great news to report: Beau has been captured and returned home! His 10-week long lost and found story involves a good deal of persistence, devotion, and a bit of luck.
Beau was originally rescued from a hoarding situation in Oklahoma in October 2019. He was very fortunate to be adopted by Ellen and was living the good life with her in Keokuk—for a few weeks, anyway.
Just before Thanksgiving in November of 2019, Beau was out for a walk on a leash, and was attacked by a large dog. During this ordeal, Beau’s leash pulled out of Ellen’s hand. He ran off, injured, leash in tow. Still very new to the area, Beau had no idea where to go.
Keokuk is a small river town in southeast Iowa and Beau was spotted several times during the first few days, running across busy streets and highways, always with his leash dragging. Beau made the rounds to every corner of the town and even the surrounding countryside.
Like many lost pets, Beau had no idea where to find resources and so he lacked food, water and shelter. Formerly indoor pets typically fare poorly when suddenly on their own and are at the mercy of the weather, coyotes, and vehicles. Equally concerning was his still-attached leash, which could have become snagged on something, trapping Beau for good.
With the assistance of Keokuk Animal Control Officer Tom Crew, Beau was initially found and trapped in a wire cage just a week after he first ran away. Unfortunately, some enthusiastic and well-meaning city employees inadvertently allowed him to escape once again while trying to remove him from the cage.
Back on the lam, Beau’s location was reported by numerous community members almost daily. Too scared to come when called, and still unfamiliar with his new home of just a few weeks, Beau spent the days in hiding and the nights scrounging for food. He wasn’t about to approach another trap.
The community rallied around Ellen. Several animal communicators, drone operators, even a search and rescue dog all were employed to help recover Beau. None of those options proved to be successful.
Several feeding stations were established around town, each with a trail camera to track his movements. Beau—and numerous other lucky creatures—were treated to nightly cat food, dog food, and occasionally BBQ from a local restaurant.
Now that Beau was wary of smaller wire traps, a much larger “Missy trap” was set up with the hope that he could be lured into and captured in a less-confining space.
As the days went on, Beau found himself facing serious winter weather. The cold months in Iowa are not for the faint of heart, and especially not for a lost dog on his own. Snow, sleet, wind, rain, and temperatures as low as -3° F occurred. Every day, multiple trips were made to the traps to help ensure Beau had water and food. Every time the Missy trap was triggered (racoons, cats, opossums, and foxes all made their way in), someone had to reset the trap.
Family members watched the camera feeds from afar every night, hoping to see Beau safely ensnared. However, Beau proved to be very suspicious of this larger trap as well. AC Officer Tom and Ellen were there every day, including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve to check for Beau.
Finally, on Sunday night February 2nd, we received word that Beau was captured—and most importantly, safely returned home to Ellen!
Every single lost pet is a terribly sad event. It’s even more heartbreaking when we know our companion is out there unsafe, afraid, hungry, cold, and wet. It is so important to know that there are resources available and people willing to try and help reunite these lost pets with their owners.
This combined team effort by AC Officer Tom, his wife, Ellen and the community at large is the reason Beau is safe today. It took hundreds of hours of dedicated work over more than ten weeks. Tom in particular worked far beyond the typical assigned hours for an animal control officer. God bless them all.
An additional note: the Keokuk Animal Services receives funding from the Keokuk Animal Services Partners In Rescue (KASPIR), a non-profit 501c3 organization. Like many small-city animal service agencies, they are doing more and more to help people and pets with less and less.
If you are interested in helping their efforts in honor of their work in finding Beau, we would all be very grateful. You can send your gift to:
249 Carbide Lane
Keokuk, IA 52632