Losing a pet can be heartbreaking, especially among perilous mountains like mountain lions, bears, and Highway 70. In a land where hikers can lose their way, it can be hard for pet owners to imagine their furry friends returning to them after their disappearance weeks in every-time.
However, Summit Lost Pet Rescue hopes to alleviate that concern. Already in 2022, more than a hundred domestic pets have been helped to return to their owners – even Luna, the dog who disappeared for two weeks.
Searching for Luna
Izzy Cairo said the dogs came out on Thursday, June 30, recalling the following ordeal. The maintenance crew came that day to work at her sister’s home in Georgetown. She had no idea how the dogs would get out the door, but either way, the crew called her sister, Natalie Cairo, around 4:30 p.m. that day to tell her the worst news as she tried to enjoy the Colorado Avalanche Stanley Cup run. in Denver.
They tell Natalie that Zeus has been nursed back inside, but Luna dashes toward Lake Georgetown. The maintenance crew told her they had followed Luna a mile from the dam but could not catch her.
Izzy said her sister rushed home from Denver to Georgetown without hesitation. She returned to Georgetown that evening and began searching for Luna.
Mountain lions and bears were seen roaming around Georgetown, adding concerns not only for Luna’s safety but also for the well-being of Natalie and Izzy. The couple did not go out on foot, but rather looked for their car, which limited the amount of land they could cover.
The next morning, their search began in full. The sisters posted pictures of Luna on social media and sent messages to as many people as possible.
“Maybe we did a total of 15 miles,” Izzy said. The sisters put up posters all over Georgetown. They walked around Lake Georgetown three or four times. Hand out fliers and take advantage of the Fourth of July crowd to spread the word, put fliers on windshields, and talk to anyone who’s listening.
The news found its way to Summit Lost Pet Rescue through Georgetown volunteer Debbie Butler, on July 3. I reached out to the sisters after seeing the location of the lost dog on Nextdoor. She was the one who taught the sisters what they needed to know to find Luna: wagon wheel technique, calming techniques for time to find her and more information from the Lost Pet Rescue Knowledge Library curated by trained pet detectives.
Armed with a better education, the people of Cairo took the “right” steps to reunite themselves with Luna. They put familiar scents in a wagon-wheel pattern around Georgetown—old socks, clothes, dog toys, and other things to remind Luna of home. Izzy said the sisters are just starting to make rational decisions. The adrenaline of anxiety had subsided, and they were thinking clearly.
But while they were making progress, the COVID-19 virus disrupted their research. At first Natalie got sick, then Izzy got sick, and so did their mother and brother who came to help looking for Luna. All participants became home bodies, and the research had to move from the streets of Georgetown to adoption sites and message boards. Izzy said her sister called all the shelters within a hundred miles of Georgetown.
“During all this time, we haven’t had any credible scenes,” Izzy said. For two weeks the sisters did not hear anything, and over time, it became possible that Luna had made it to Denver. “But we haven’t lost hope.”
On Thursday, July 14, exactly two weeks after Luna’s escape, the sisters received a ray of hope. A good Samaritan called Summit Lost Pet Rescue called around 11:20 a.m. to say he saw what might be a luna on the northwest side of Interstate 70 near the water tower.
Moving quickly, the sisters met Georgetown rescue volunteers Butler and Lost Pet Rescue co-founder Melissa Davis at the water tower later that day. They searched the area. They searched in and around abandoned cars and found nothing.
“There were a lot of places to take refuge there,” Izzy said.
But they trusted the bullets and decided to leave some water and more clothes ripe with the smell of the house. They left a remote camera that will be replaced after a day with a different camera whose live broadcast can be connected to any smartphone or device.
The new camera, which was installed on July 15, can detect motion and alert users immediately. But throughout the day, she picked up nothing.
With no news since tipping on July 14, Izzy could feel her guts. She opened the app on her phone and checked the live stream on a whim around 11pm. She saw something fluffy and furry. She thought she caught a glimpse of Luna’s tail.
Inspired, Izzy returns to the junkyard, armed with a collar, leash and squeaky toy, with her sister and new buddy Butler.
To suppress her excitement, Izzy did not run to Luna. Instead, she wandered in the opposite direction with Zeus at her side. I sat on the floor a short distance away and played with Zeus. Zeus gave the jerky, attention, and affection in an attempt to lure Luna on her own terms.
The plan worked. Luna eventually wandered into her own time to see what Zeus and Ise had to do. One quick click on the handlebars later and Luna is back with her owners. That night, Izzy said Luna never left her side, and the two spent the night on the sofa together.
After visiting the vet’s office, Luna came off her adventure with a broken toe, a few fleas, and a tick in her ear.
Since then, she has been drinking water, eating small portions and resting while returning to full health. Natalie said Luna has dropped more than a third of her body weight, going from 57 pounds to just over 39 pounds during her two-week break.
“Most pets make a full recovery,” Davis said. Izzy said Luna’s health is steadily improving.
Rescue group reports near the claw log
Summit Lost Pet Rescue has returned 376 pets to their owners since January 2020, the group recently reported. It works like its role model, the human-centered Summit County Rescue group, and runs assignments with volunteer task coordinators, said Brandon Siolo, co-founder of the group.
Ciullo has also volunteered for the Summit County Rescue Group and used his experience as a human rescuer to guide the creation of Summit Lost Pet Rescue.
The group organizes and implements “missions” such as the Summit County Rescue Group, with mission coordinators. Volunteers and teams are organized by city and can be dispatched at any moment.
“Even if it’s three in the morning, we’ll send as many people as we can after we see,” Davis said.
Davis shared the results of the group’s mission for the year to date. As of July 22, the group has conducted 121 “rescue missions” with a success rate of 93% as of July 22. Only nine pets have been found, Davis said.
Of the 22 indoor cats missing in 2022, 21 have been found with only one – a current assignment – still at large as of July 22.
Of the 15 missing indoor and outdoor cats in 2022, only seven were found and eight were still missing as of July 22. Davis said indoor and outdoor cats’ penchant for wandering makes them difficult to find. The eight undiscovered cats are still part of the active missions.
All dog-related tasks finding the pet ended in 2022. Some of the dog tasks involved more than one dog, Davis said. In total, 89 dogs were found on 84 missions in 2022.
Davis did not notice that all successful “discoveries” are not happy endings. She said three pets were found dead in 2022.
If someone wants to learn more or report a missing pet, Davis encourages people to check out the group’s website at LostPetRescue.org.