Family Dogs of Laguna Beach Residents Reunited After 4 Year in the Most Unlikely Way

Check out this awesome story from Independent Journal about a local Laguna Beach Family who was reunited with their dog 4 years after they had to leave them with another family.  If this isn’t enough proof you should always get your pets microchipped, I don’t know what is.


If you don’t have your pet microchipped yet, there’s a low cost microchipping event this Thursday, November 5th at the OC Animal Care Center in OrangeCLICK HERE for more info.

On September 23, 2015, Dawn Knepper woke up from a nightmare. She had a bad dream that her dog, Cleo, was in trouble. The reality was that she couldn’t check on him personally since her family was forced to leave Cleo and his litter-mate, Samson, back in Texas four years ago.

Knepper told IJ that even though they gave Samson and Cleo to a veteran who would give them a good home and plenty of running room, leaving their two dogs was the hardest thing they’d ever done.

“[We] adopted them from an animal shelter in San Antonio, Texas in 2004. They were the last two left from their litter. We went to adopt one dog, but when we saw them together we fell in love and took them both home. They truly were our babies.”

They took Samson and Cleo everywhere.

Image Credit: Dawn Knepper, with permission

Image Credit: Dawn Knepper, with permission

The dogs were part of the family.

Image Credit: Dawn Knepper, with permission

Image Credit: Dawn Knepper, with permission

But health issues forced them to move west. Their first home was a rental with no yard in Laguna Beach, California. The house was small with no place for Samson and Cleo to run around, and the Kneppers knew it wouldn’t be fair to bring them along.

Four years later, they moved into their new home in Orange County. That’s when Knepper got a phone call that changed everything.

Her mom called with news that Samson and Cleo had been found at the back door of Life Church in Leander, Texas.

Image Credit: Google

Image Credit: Google

“Found?” Knepper hadn’t even known they were lost.

Missions Pastor Tim Schloung found the dogs, both skinny and hungry, at the back door of the church and gave them a little something to eat.

He left that Thursday night, but something told him to go into work early the next morning to see if the dogs were still there. And they were.

Samson and Cleo were a mess. Pastor Tim took the dogs to his Mom’s house, where they bathed them, de-flea’d them, and fed them.

Elaine Schloung told IJ that she and Tim took the dogs door-to-door to all the neighbors near the church, checked local shelters, the humane society, and searched countless websites in an effort to find their owner.

Schloung told IJ she could tell these dogs had been loved but they were in bad shape:

“You could tell they’d been out on the road… months. You knew it wasn’t just a couple day thing.

They were so — just love those dogs — they were so willing to be taken care of. It just touched our hearts. They never complained as we scrubbed and cleaned them and wiped out their ears. They were so gentle.

Somebody at one time took good care of these dogs.”

Eventually they figured out one of the dogs had a working ID chip and they were ecstatic, until they found out the chip was linked to the former owners who had moved to California.

Knepper’s mom, the backup emergency contact for Cleo and Samson, gave the microchip company the bad news before calling her daughter in Orange County.

Knepper frantically tried to find the paperwork for the man who adopted the dogs, but couldn’t, so she got a hold of Schloung and asked him to send a picture of the dogs.

Image Credit: Dawn Knepper with permission

Image Credit: Dawn Knepper with permission

They were white around the muzzle and really skinny, but it was them.

A family confab ensued, and within an hour Kurt Knepper was in the car driving to Texas to pick up Samson and Cleo:

“It was over 20 hours each way, and within 2.5 days, Kurt brought the dogs back. He said when he first saw them, they seemed very overwhelmed. But by the first night together, where they all crashed in Las Cruces, New Mexico, they were sleeping up in the bed, pressed against Kurt.”

Samson and Cleo snuggled on towels in the backseat during the long drive:

Image Credit: Kurt Knepper with permission

Image Credit: Kurt Knepper with permission

When Kurt finally got home with the dogs, Knepper and their children, Ava and Lars, were waiting with open arms for the dogs they’d missed so much. As Knepper told IJ:

“It was excruciating to say good-bye, but we thought we were doing the right thing. We’ve always regretted giving them up, and would be so sad when Ava and Lars would lovingly talk about the dogs we used to have.”

The years of regret made the homecoming so much sweeter:

Image Credit: Dawn Knepper with permission

Image Credit: Dawn Knepper with permission

The dogs sought refuge at a church 70 miles away from their adopted home. The Kneppers never located the previous owner.

Schloung told IJ that she was shocked that Samson and Cleo survived by themselves for all that time in the hot Texas sun:

“There were 100 degree temperatures! How they survived I don’t even have a clue. I don’t know where they were getting water or shade.”

Now, there’s plenty of water where they live:

Image Credit: Dawn Knepper

Image Credit: Dawn Knepper

Knepper told IJ that she’s so glad she microchipped her dogs and registered their contact information.

And she’s so happy they’re all a big family again.



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