‘I have my best friend back’: Frisco resident reunited with his 12-year-old dog after exhaustive, two-night search
Owner searched for 30 hours without sleep before taking a nap; Dog found near Dillon Reservoir after cold nights trapped by 6 inches of leash
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct when Aprill adopted Capone, the location where he was found and to better reflect why he had a leash on when he became lost.
When Frisco resident Kyle Aprill let his 12-year-old dog Capone out Sunday, Jan. 8, as he was winding down for the night, he thought nothing of it.
As he does most evenings, Aprill let Capone outside to do his business before bed. He didn’t have a collar on, so Aprill slipped a leash around his neck while he went to move some cars around the parking lot. Often, Capone — a brown mutt who Aprill adopted at 7 weeks — will take a short walk through their neighborhood near the Dillon Reservoir. So, when Capone didn’t return after 15 minutes, Aprill wasn’t concerned.
But after an hour passed — and then two — the panic began to set it. Soon, Aprill had launched an exhaustive search that would extend through two nights and rally the help of dozens of local volunteers, before he was finally reunited with Capone early Tuesday morning.
“I’m still so exhausted,” Aprill said in an interview Wednesday morning. “My body is barely able to work right now. I’m just so happy to have him home. Nothing right now could bring me down because I have my best friend back.”
Aprill searched all through the night. Sometime after 3 a.m., Aprill posted to Facebook and contacted Summit Lost Pet Rescue, a local nonprofit devoted to finding lost pets and reuniting them with their owners.
“We looked all through the night. Didn’t go to bed. Looked all through the day,” Aprill said. “Didn’t stop to eat or drink — just searched.”
By the next morning, the Summit Lost Pet Rescue had jumped into action, according to the nonprofit’s co-founders and directors Melissa Davis and Brandon Ciullo. The group has more than 100 volunteers and has conducted almost 500 searches — with a 91% success rate — since they were established in 2020, Davis said.
“Instantly, our volunteers ran out the door and started searching right away,” Davis said.
When the pet rescue group got in contact with Aprill on Monday morning, they instructed him to put his dirty laundry on the front porch as a “scent station.” Lost dogs and cats often go into fight-or-flight mode, Davis said, and will rely on their instincts, especially their sense of smell. The dirty clothes can help them detect their owner’s scent and orient themselves home.
Then the rescue group learned that Capone had been wearing a leash — and shifted tactics.
“Now we have a senior dog with a leash that has an entrapment possibility,” Ciullo said. “That’s more boots on the ground, field work, get in there, search, search, search.”
Davis suggested searching the brush near the edge of the Dillon Reservoir, where Capone could have gotten stuck. And Aprill and volunteers spent hours scouring the area. At one point, Aprill said, he ran into a baby moose — but no Capone.
In addition to helping coordinate volunteers to search, hanging bright-colored posters around town and putting out a social media blast with Capone’s photo, Davis and Ciullo offered emotional support to Aprill, who they said was distraught.
“We deescalate. We bring (owners of lost pets) down because it’s the worst day of their life,” Davis said. “And that’s where we come in on the rational side and we break it down step by step.”
Ciullo stopped by Aprill’s house at one point, where he could tell he was feeling “just every emotion you could think of: stress, anxiety, fear, sadness.” He asked Aprill, “When do you go back to work?” Aprill responded, “I don’t go back to work until I find my dog.”
So, the search continued into a second night. At one point, Aprill got a tip about a man at the Frisco Transfer Center with an old brown dog with a bad back leg — just like Capone. But, after tracking down that lead, he found out it was a different dog.
Going on almost 30 hours without sleep, Aprill rested for an hour or two Tuesday morning before heading back out to continue the search. By that morning, the rescue team — as well as local animal control — had received reports of a dog whimpering somewhere near the edge of the Dillon Reservoir.
Finally, as Aprill was searching just off the bike path, where the reports of whimpering had been focused, he gave a shout, “Capone!”
Then, from the brushy willows in the Dillon Reservoir, he heard a single bark that he said sent chills down his spine.
“At that point, I knew it was my dog and he was alive. I just started booking it. I had no energy, man, and I ran faster than anyone can probably run through the snow,” Aprill said. “It was a really intense moment. It was special. Just saying ‘Capone!’ once and him barking back like ‘Dad, I’m here!’”
Dropping his gloves as he ran, he dove into the brush toward the sound of the bark to find Capone’s leash tangled and frozen into the ground. The dog had only about 6 six inches of movement, and was “really, really stiff,” he said.
Nonetheless, Capone jumped all over Aprill, licking him. Aprill said that he thinks Capone had been caught there in the bushes for most of the time he had been missing, based on the amount of feces and urine around him.
Aprill brought Capone home and warmed him by the fire, before taking him to the vet. He had no frostbite or major injuries.
“I’m very glad I found him,” Aprill said. “He has gone through everything with me for the past 12 years. He’s been my best friend. He’s the dude who I can cry on. I’ve cried more tears on my dog than imaginable. He travels with me. He goes to work with me. He’s spent years dirt biking with me.”
Davis thanked all the volunteers and the community as a whole for its help. She described a sense of “pure happiness and relief,” when she and Ciullo stopped by Aprill’s house to visit Capone after he was found.
“Capone instantly gave us kisses all over,” Davis said. “It’s like he knew. He said ‘thank you.’”
For pet owners whose pets go missing, the first thing to do is file a report with law enforcement at the Summit County dispatch non-emergency line at 970-668-8600, Davis said. Then, call the Summit Pet Rescue Group right away at 970-423-5701, she said.
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