In a happy ending that some weren’t expecting, a lost dog was found Friday in East Vail after spending 50 hours alone in cold conditions.
Bandit, a 6-year-old terrier mix, had been missing since Wednesday after he could not be located following a rollover crash on Interstate 70, which sent 19-year-old Kate Fritsch to the hospital with a head injury. She received stitches and is doing OK.
The dog’s owners — Kate and her father, Kyle Fritsch — had remained optimistic, but were fearing the worst after examining the scene of the accident. Kyle assumed the dog had been tossed off the slippery bridge where the rollover occurred, east of East Vail on Vail Pass.
“I’d just like to find him and bury him,” Kyle said Wednesday.
Summit Lost Pet Rescue learned of the incident and got in touch with the family, organizing a search effort using techniques and resources that the Fritsches would not have had on their own.
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“They came over with trail cameras, they help set up scent stations, they helped search, there was a whole massive group of volunteers,” Kyle said. “There were all these things that I just didn’t realize … because of the trauma, (dogs) won’t come to you, they’ll just sit under a tree in shock, they’re in flight mode, and they don’t even recognize their owners sometimes.”
In addition to the Summit Lost Pet Rescue volunteers, the East Vail community had rallied together to search for Bandit on Wednesday and Thursday with no sign of the dog.
But on Friday, Bandit emerged and returned to the scene of the accident, and reports of the dog being spotted in the freeway median at milepost 184 started coming in at about 3 p.m. on Friday. By 3:30 p.m., “some good samaritans were able to coax Bandit into their car and safely reunite him with the family,” said Melissa Davis with Summit Lost Pet Rescue.
Davis said the large neon signs that her team had set up on Vail Pass, alerting motorists of the lost dog, proved helpful in keeping people on the lookout.
Kyle said he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. He lived in Eagle County in the ’90s.
“We moved to Denver after we lived up here for four or five years,” he said from East Vail on Saturday. “You forget how much sense of community, and true, genuine caring that people have … you don’t get that in big cities.”