Chaffee County, CO – In a heartwarming display of bravery and resilience, a German Shepherd named Bailey was recently rescued near the summit of Mt. Hope in Chaffee County, Colorado. Bailey and his owner summitted the mountain on Thursday, July 6th, but due to exhaustion Bailey was unable or unwilling to make the return journey.
Chaffee County Search and Rescue North (CCSAR-N) was alerted to the distressed dog at around 14:15 hrs. Bailey’s owner had managed to descend the mountain, aware that his own well-being was at risk, but could not transport his 100-pound pet down the steep, class 2+ ridge.
Leveraging modern technology, CCSAR-N deployed two teams who pinpointed Bailey’s general location using a cell phone ping. The teams began their rescue effort just before 15:00 hrs, traversing seven miles up the ridge of Mt. Hope. Following a brief search, the rescue team located Bailey, who, despite his predicament, greeted his rescuers with grateful wagging.
The rescuers then began the meticulous process of transporting Bailey down the ridge. Using a dog-sling backpack, the team members took turns carrying the hefty dog, while another six-member team joined them at 20:40 hrs to provide assistance in wheeling Bailey down the remainder of the trail. The rescue operation was supplemented by radio-relay support due to the limited communications in the area.
After nearly 12 hours, by 01:15 in the morning on July 7th, Bailey was safely returned and ready to be picked up by his owners. Reports suggest that he is doing well and will be visiting a veterinarian for a check-up as soon as possible. The long and arduous day concluded with Bailey safely ensconced in a soft, comfortable bed.
“We are just glad for a positive outcome and hope that this incident is a prompt for increased consideration of how our beloved animals fare in high alpine environments…” said a representative from CCSAR-N.
Lessons Learned from the Incident
This incident serves as a stark reminder of the hazards pets can face in high alpine environments. Here are a few key takeaways to ensure the safety of our four-legged friends in the backcountry:
- Assess your pet’s ability: Not all pets are equipped to handle the physical demands of climbing. Prior to a hike, evaluate your pet’s health, age, and physical abilities to determine whether they can safely undertake the journey.
- Prepare for emergencies: Carry appropriate gear, such as a pet first-aid kit and a dog-sling for larger dogs, to assist in case of an emergency.
- Have a plan: In case of an emergency or unforeseen event, have a contingency plan for how to get your pet back to safety.
- Monitor your pet’s behavior: Animals may not be able to communicate discomfort or distress verbally, but changes in their behavior or pace can indicate a problem. If your pet seems unwell or unwilling to proceed, consider turning back.
- Seek professional advice: Consult a vet before embarking on demanding hikes with your pet. They may have advice or precautions that can prevent incidents like Bailey’s.
While the rescue teams may not officially respond for animals, they understand the significance of pets in people’s lives. The CCSAR-N team, all of whom are declared animal lovers, will always strive to assist where they can. Learn more about their team or make a donation here.