Stopping for lunch near Houston on their way home from a road trip last weekend, Andrew Mathias and his family tied their 4-year-old Golden Retriever, Lucy, to a tree in the restaurant’s parking lot. They assumed she’d be safe and cool in this shady spot.
They were sadly mistaken. When they left the restaurant, Lucy was gone. A surveillance camera captured footage of a woman untying Lucy, taking her to a truck and then driving away.
After viewing the footage, Matt Dougherty, a reporter with CBS affiliate station KHOU in Houston, decided to do his best to find Lucy.
Fortunately, the truck’s license plate was visible in the footage. Dougherty was able to get the truck owner’s address and, accompanied by a KHOU news crew, went to her home in New Caney, Texas.
There were a lot of dogs on the property. When Dougherty asked the man who answered the door if there was a woman there “who collects dogs,” the man said she was his cousin.
Dougherty and the news crew took Lucy and contacted authorities. The reporter also made a FaceTime video phone call to Mathias.
“Well, I don’t want to bury the lead — I’ll go ahead and let you know,” Dougherty told him. “We’ve got somebody in the back seat with us.” Mathias and his family were thrilled when they saw it was Lucy.
Later, as Polk County Pct. 2 Constable Bill Cunningham watched, Lucy was reunited with her overjoyed family.
Mathias told KHOU he’ll never leave Lucy unattended in public again.
— Matt Dougherty (@MattKHOU) August 22, 2019
Perhaps the dognapper’s heart was in the right place: She thought Lucy had been abandoned outside the restaurant, her two children who were inside the truck at the time told KHOU in a follow-up story.
Lucy “was looking confused,” a 13-year-old boy told KHOU. There was “a lot of saliva coming out of her mouth, so we thought oh, she’s super thirsty.” (The Mathias family said they had left a bowl filled with water next to their dog.)
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the case. The woman and her children hope the Mathias family will forgive them. “We’re so sorry if you guys thought that we stole it,” the boy told KHOU. “We didn’t do it for bad intentions. We did it for a good cause, because we thought it was abandoned.”
Here’s some advice for this woman and anyone else who sees a dog in a similar situation: It’s a good idea to check inside the restaurant first to see if the owner is there before taking any action.
Photos: KHOU 11/YouTube