BRECKENRIDGE — A new Summit County nonprofit for finding lost animals has been started by longtime unofficial animal finder Brandon Ciullo and Melissa Davis. Ciullo, founder of the Facebook page, Summit County loves his pets!!!and Davis, who began her pet relocation career as a volunteer with Summit County Animal Control & Shelter, joined forces — along with others — to create the nonprofit.
The two had been informally looking for lost pets for years until they decided to form Summit Lost Pet Rescue., as well as Treasurer Douglas Zidel, Secretary and Legal Counsel John Carver and Marketing Director Andria Pyn. The nonprofit has been announced to the community as an official 501(c)(3) organization on Friday, June 12, although plans have been in place to have the non-profit organization up and running over the past few months.
Ciullo said his mindset changed when it came to finding pets in October 2019 when Ciullo and Davis teamed up to find a dog around Vail Pass. The two took part in a 14-day rescue of a Chihuahua mix that was lost after a car accident while the dog owners were driving through Colorado. Ciullo and Davis caught up with Katie Albright, who shared a more effective way to find lost animals using dog psychology, cameras and traps to find missing animals. Previously, Ciullo said he and Davis would simply share social media posts, create flyers and search areas to find missing pets.
“Now we have a whole system protocol of things that we do in order to increase our chances of finding a lost animal much faster than just a guy walking through the woods,” Ciullo said.
The protocol for finding lost pets is that after a call from animal control, Summit Lost Pet Rescue makes flyers which they place in visible places in the surrounding area. Larger panels are also used. Then the team tracks the animal to find out which direction it is moving.
“After three or four observations, I can really get a pretty good idea of what kind of mentality we’re dealing with, which will help us decide when and where to set a trap,” Ciullo said. “One of the first things we do is set up surveillance cameras with feeding stations. Melissa and I have worked on many, many missions where we never see the animal.
Once the team has tracked and mapped the animal, they set a trap, leaving it unarmed for a few days to let the animal get used to it before finally setting the trap to catch the animal. Davis called the process “a marathon, not a sprint.”
After the duo raised funds to acquire the appropriate equipment, they pitched the idea of starting the nonprofit. Ciullo said he and Davis were more “boots in the field,” while the other team members took care of all the legal, administrative and financial work that comes with building and running an organization in non-profit. He said that about five to six months after the team was formed, the nonprofit became official. Davis said the group has about 90 registered volunteers with about 25 active volunteers. Pyn noted that the organization is 100% volunteer-based and donation-based.
Ciullo recounted one of his favorite missions, which was one of his first major missions with Davis as a team, where the two located a missing dog and were able to witness the dog’s reunion with its owner, who is returned to Colorado. from North Carolina. The team has published many success stories on their website, LostPetRescue.org.
Davis said one simple thing pet owners can do when their pet goes missing is put their dirty clothes outside the house because the smells can help bring the pet back. She said pet owners should notify Animal Control and Summit Lost Pet Rescue the second the animal is missing, as the first 24 hours are vital.
“If we get notified within the first 24 hours, we can find (the animal) pretty quickly,” Davis said. “Some dogs and cats take three days, some take 10 minutes, some take three months, you never know. It really depends on how they got lost, when the search started and their temperament.
Davis said that while they couldn’t find all of the missing animals, the team was doing their best to locate as many animals as possible. Ciullo said he did what he did simply because he knew how to find lost animals and felt compelled to share that knowledge.
“We just have a passion for animals to begin with and we have a stronger passion for finding lost animals and reuniting them with owners,” Davis said.
As for what the team wants the nonprofit to become, Davis said the goal is to keep training more and more volunteers to allow some of them to start carrying out missions. to continue growing and finding lost pets in Summit County and beyond.