“Dog, the Bounty Hunter” is a reality series that documents the experiences of Duane “Dog” Chapman, a bounty hunter. It also stars several members of his close family who track down fugitives in the Hawaiian Islands. The show premiered in August 2004 and ran for eight seasons, concluding in 2012. During its run, the show amassed a broad and loyal audience by drawing viewers into the exciting relationship of Chapman and his family and team, adrenaline-laced arrests, and the philosophy of second chances.
Given its popularity, it does not come as a surprise that it spawned two spin-off series, “Dog and Beth: On the Hunt”, and “Dogs Most Wanted.”
Who is Duane “Dog” Chapman?
Hailing from Denver, Colorado USA, Duane Chapman became known as “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” and is a bondsman and TV personality. He really made international headlines in 2003 after successfully capturing Andrew Luster, the Max Factor heir who had been convicted of sexual assault.
Duane grew up in a volatile household, riddled with abuse and drug consumption, which prompted him to join an outlaw motorcycle club and engage in criminal activities. Before becoming a TV personality and famous bounty hunter, in 1976 he was convicted of first-degree murder after participating in a drug deal gone south, resulting in the death of a man called Jerry Oliver. He served 18 months in Texas State Penitentiary and was subsequently released, later reflecting on this unpleasant experience, saying: ‘I shouldn’t have gone, and I shouldn’t have been the person I was back then. A criminal record is something that follows you the rest of your life, no matter who you become or who you are. I’m not proud of it.”
The Capture of Andrew Luster
Born into privilege and a multi-million business, Andrew Luster was first arrested in 2000 after a college student reported him to the police, accusing him of raping her in his home.
Upon further investigation, the police established that Luster had been drugging women with the date rape drug GHB, sexually assaulting them and videotaping the assaults. After finding those gruesome tapes at his place, the police charged him on several counts, but he was released on $1 million bail. However, he failed to appear in court in January 2003, and was subsequently convicted of the crimes in absentia, and sentenced to 124 years in prison. Given his celebrity status, he quickly became a main topic in the media, smearing his family’s name and reputation. To avoid jail-time, Andrew fled the US and settled in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, under a false name.
However, in June 2003, the situation took an unexpected turn of events after Duane and his hunt team, consisting of his son Leland and associate Tim Chapman, successfully captured Andrew.
However, this capture and the fame that followed came at a high cost; Duane and his team were subsequently arrested by the Mexican police. While intending to transport Andrew to San Diego jail, the Mexican police pulled them over, and they were all jailed after Duane and his son raised suspicion of drug use. After Andrew’s identity was confirmed, he was deported to California to face his sentence, while Duane and his team remained in the Mexican jail, denied bail.
Later, Duane’s wife alerted the public and the media about their situation, prompting the Mexican police to release them on bail. The team fled the jurisdiction on their attorney’s advice, thus becoming international bail-jumpers. However, they were arrested by a US Marshal and taken to jail on behalf of the Mexican government. Subsequently, they were charged with deprivation of liberty, as bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico. All three were ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device around the ankle, and were released on bail.
However, it would take a couple of years to settle this legal problem for good – in 2007, the court in Puerto Vallarta dismissed all the charges against Duane, Leland and Tim Chapman, after establishing that the statute of limitations had expired.
How did he land the reality series?
After establishing himself as a bounty hunter, Duane was invited to appear on the “Take This Job” show, which features people with unusual or peculiar professions. His appearance and story prompted a production company to call him on a project – a spin-off about his experience capturing and hunting down Andrew Luster. After Duane and his team caught Andrew, he was jailed to complete his sentence of 124 years.
Duane then made an appearance in a 2003 episode of the TV crime series “Dominic Dunne’s Power, Privilege, and Justice” that examines the real-life cases of crimes committed by celebrities.
After successfully grabbing the public’s attention with his unique abilities and iconoclastic look, A & E partnered with Duane to launch the reality series centered around his bounty hunting job.
What sickness does Duane have?
Following the loss of his wife, Beth, to throat cancer in 2019, Duane learned that he suffered from a life-threatening condition. After experiencing a series of chest pains in September, he was admitted to a hospital. However, he wasn’t satisfied with the hospital staff’s attitude, so he turned to Mehmet Oz for help, saying ‘I went to the hospital and they were kind of rude, so I checked out. Then Dr. Oz came to me and said, ‘What are you doing? You’re crazy. Come back.’ So I did. You got to do what Dr. Oz says.’
After extensive tests, Duane was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism – basically, a blood clot that develops in a blood vessel and travels over time to the lung artery, where it blocks blood flow.
Duane received his diagnosis on the “The Dr. Oz Show”, who also shared his opinion and gave Duane some advice, disclosing: ‘‘You’re a ticking time bomb, you’re not going to be here with the heart the way it is right now. Fear of death is normal. I’m surprised you don’t fear death when you’re chasing after convicts. But when you run away from doctor, that means you have to do your own doctoring’.
The doctor further explained that Duane had been experiencing all the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, and added that ‘finally, after numerous efforts, we got the testing, proved what he had, now he’s in treatment.’ In addition to his disease, the death of his wife Beth took a heavy toll on him, making him feel helpless and alone. Dr. Oz said: ‘[Duane] was fearful… Beth had been his north star. She was the one that would go with him and keep him balanced so he could deal with these things. Losing her took away his biggest support’.
This is one of the reasons why Duane dwelt on asking for help, as he was also adamantly hesitant of doctors and hospitals, explaining:’ I hesitated for a minute thinking, I don’t want to have to go through this again. I don’t want to die right now. I’m not afraid to die anymore, but I really didn’t care for a while if something would happen. I do care now.”
The pulmonary embolism is not a curable condition, but is manageable with appropriate treatment – this meant that Duane had to change his unhealthy lifestyle, which included fast food and smoking cigarettes. The doctor revealed: ‘He has completely changed his life. He used to smoke four packs [of cigarettes] a day – it started when he was aged 12.’ Duane is now actively taking blood thinners, and with an improved dietary regime, he is ready to continue hunting bad guys, and girls.
The Killing of Gaby Petito
One of the most shocking stories in 2021 was the brutal homicide of Gabby Petito, an American woman who was reportedly killed by her fiancé, Brie Laundry.
In July 2021, Gabby and Brie set off to travel by van across the US, and document it on YouTube. The trip was supposed to last four months; however, it ended sooner for Gabby, who disappeared in August.
After her parents reported her missing, Brie returned from the trip, raising suspicion with his odd behavior – he drove her van to her parent’s house in North Port, Florida and refused to talk about her whereabouts. He immediately became a person of interest, and the police issued an arrest warrant, as he’d used Gaby’s debit card following her disappearance. Brie was then last seen on 13 September, and on 17 September was reported missing. The case was well-documented due to its peculiarity and the couple’s engagement on social media, which only contributed to the media boom. On 19 September, Gaby’s remains were found in Wyoming, revealing that she died by asphyxiation.
Brie Laundrei Hunt
Following the news of Brie’s disappearance, Duane joined the hunt, saying: ‘Because I lost my daughter at about the same age, I know what the parents feel like. They want justification; they want the guy behind bars. All of it’s alleged that he even committed the murder but circumstantially, it looks like he did.” He and his family also added $10,000 to the $170,000 reward for his capture.
In October 2021, Duane was joined by an unknown enforcement officer in conducting his search for Brie in Florida’s Fort De Soto Park, which he believed was his location. Duane said: ‘This would be and could be a perfect spot for him to hide, not too many people out here, but there’s a lot of environmental things that we’re gonna fight.’ Unfortunately, despite Duane’s active engagement and several promising leads, such as the contradictory statements of Brie’s sister and parents, he had to step down from the hunt due to an injury – he twisted his ankle in rugged terrain while searching, and was forced to leave Florida and return to Colorado for treatment.
Duane addressed the situation, saying that while he was seeking treatment, he had put together a talented team to continue the search. He disclosed that they had gone through over 3,500 calls regarding Brie’s whereabouts during the week-long hunt, before he sustained his injury.
Luckily for Duane and his fans, the injury wasn’t serious, however, he was advised to refrain from physical activities, and so halted his personal search for Brie.
Was Brie caught?
Despite Duane’s promises and efforts to bring Brie to justice, the whole case ended with a rather unexpected twist of events. On 22 October 2021, Brie’s skeletal remains were found at the Mabry Carlton Jr Memorial Reserve and Myakkahatchee Creed Environmental Park, while his identity was confirmed using dental records. According to the official’s statements, his body was discovered in a very remote and generally impassable area of the park that had previously been underwater, and infested with alligators and rattlesnakes.
Police also found some of his items, such as his backpack and notebook. One of the police officers commented: ‘It’s not like you’re searching a house or a car. These areas are huge and they are covered by water.’ While initially Brie’s cause of death was undisclosed and unclear, the autopsy later revealed that he committed suicide.
Duane’s New Projects and Controversy
In 2021, Duane was supposed to launch a new series, “Dog Unleashed”, however, the project was allegedly canceled before it aired on the streaming service. The company that collaborated with Duane on the project reportedly sued him for breach of contract, disclosing controversial information regarding his behavior on the set, which included racist and homophobic epithets and outbursts. Additionally, he was accused of illegally using a taser gun during a shoot. He addressed the suit, denying the company’s claims and accusations.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time Duane landed in hot water due to inappropriate comments. In 2007, he was highly criticized after an audiotape became public, in which he referred to his son’s girlfriend using racial slurs and the N-word. As a result, he nearly lost his contract with the production company A& E, however it was later established that the situation was blown out of proportion, and he resumed the show.
A Potential Brie Laundrie Series
Despite his failed show, judging from his Instagram account something is currently underway, as he often posts behind-the-scenes photos of a new and unknown project. According to media reports, in September 2021 he began working with the production house Thinkfactory on pitching a new series, which might document Duane’s day-to-day activities, including his extensive hunt for Brie. We can only wait in anticipation.