ESTES PARK - Ryan Knapp has been looking for Ella in the mountains around Estes Park for nearly five weeks now. Ella, a 5-year-old sheltie, ran away from home on Jan. 19 while Knapp was away on a business trip. The friend who was watching Ella called Knapp to give him the news.
"It just made my heart drop," Knapp said. "I literally sat down on the convention center floor and started crying. I mean Ella is what I have. She's my girl."
When Knapp got back into town he did what many people do. He printed up 1,500 fliers with Ella's picture and information and distributed them throughout town. He did something else though. He created a Facebook page entitled, "Bring Ella Home."
As a result of that Facebook page Knapp is not alone in his search for Ella. To date nearly 150,000 people have seen the page and are aware that Ella is missing.
"I wouldn't imagine not being able to connect with that many people so fast and that was the benefit of it," Knapp said.
Because Ella's photo and story have reached so many people there have been several reported sightings in recent weeks. An Estes Park resident spotted Ella three days after she ran away. There were additional reported sightings of Ella in Estes Park but in each case the dog ran away from the people.
Knapp has spent countless hours searching for Ella after the reported sightings.
"If there was light I was outside looking. When it was 7 o'clock, once light broke, I was out and then I'd stay out until it was dark," Knapp said.
On Feb. 14, Valentine's Day, Ella was spotted on a ranch nearly 20 miles away near the intersections of highway 7 and 72.
"She was pretty sure it was her," Knapp said. "So I went down, and it had just snowed, and I was able to find her tracks."
Ella has now been lost for nearly five weeks in rugged terrain. Knapp worries about predators that live in that country.
"It is just, what else is going to happen?" Knapp said.
He is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to Ella's safe return. Because Ella is likely to run from strangers, Knapp is asking anyone who sees the dog to not try to approach it and instead call him immediately. His phone number is 913-735-6036. Knapp will try to get Ella to come to him.
For more information, visit the Facebook page created for Ella: https://www.facebook.com/#!/bringeloisehome
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)