New lost animal rescue group in Summit Co. reunites dog and owner

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. – A new lost animal rescue group was officially launched in Summit County on June 11 and less than two weeks later the group conducted its first rescue. And it was a doggone – or dog found – success.

Summit Lost Pet Rescue, Inc. (SLPR) became a formal 501(c)(3) nonprofit on June 11, but has been operating informally for about five years under the leadership of Brandon Ciullo and Melissa Davis.

Now, Ciullo and Davis work as mission coordinators when a missing animal is reported. Then a group of experienced volunteer team leaders organize other volunteers who live around the search area to post signs, search areas, report sightings, and place scent objects, cameras, and traps where the animal can be found.

Ciullo said that while their base operations are in Summit County, he hopes Front Range residents will learn more about the group.

“We’ve had pets missing from visiting owners, and recently a dog was killed on the freeway in Heeney because his Denver-based owner didn’t know what to do when the dog went missing, so he drove home home,” he said. “If only he had called Animal Control or contacted us directly online, we could have helped him.”

Charles Pitman, mission coordinator for Summit County Rescue Group (SCRG), said SLPR will be a great resource when SCRG receives calls about lost or injured animals in the backcountry.

On June 21, the newly formed SLPR put its efforts to the test for the first time since the group was formalized as a nonprofit.

Around 7:30 p.m. that day, the Summit County 911 dispatch received a call about a missing hiker on the Lenawee Trail in the Peru Creek area near Montezuma. A woman is said to have been looking for her 15-pound dog named Sunny, who got out of control and disappeared around the top of Lenawee Mountain, according to SCRG.

SCRG mission coordinator Charles Pitman asked a team to stand by while he drove to the scene. He quickly found the woman and told the team to be ready. However, the dog was still missing.

The team contacted SLPR’s Brandon Ciullo and Melissa Davis, and both said they had heard about the missing dog on social media before.

The following day, June 22, three SCRG members joined the SLPR members and spent the day looking for Sunny on the Lenawee Trail and Peru Creek Road.

Around 2 p.m. that day, Arvada off-road biker Ryan Weed arrived at the Peru Creek parking lot and noticed an SLPR volunteer putting up lost pet signs. He asked for details and said he would keep an eye on Sunny, according to SCRG.

Shortly after he started riding his bike, he spotted Sunny running down the road and into the woods. He walked back to the parking lot and called Sunny’s owner’s number from the sign indicating the lost pet. He also called the SCRG research team, according to SCRG.

The search party gathered at the location where Sunny was last seen. After about an hour, Sunny and her owner were happily reunited, according to SCRG.

Sunny had been missing for less than 24 hours.

Ciullo gave advice to pet owners: make sure they have a collar, tag and microchip, and if they go missing, leave used clothes in the area as they are likely to linger around this smell.

“So give us a call and we can take it from there,” he said.

To learn more about Summit Lost Pet Rescue, or to donate, visit their website by clicking here or their Facebook page by clicking here.

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