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FILLMORE, Calif. - A dog belonging to a California firefighter who disappeared during a backpacking trip has been rescued after nine days in the wilderness, but his owner remains missing.

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said Sunday that a rescue effort for Mike Herdman will be scaled back after days of searching the Los Padres National Forest.

The dog, named Duke, was found Sunday in the parking lot where Herdman had parked his car. The dog had been spotted twice before but had eluded capture.

Herdman and a friend were backpacking June 13 when the dog ran off and the 36-year-old Herdman chased after the pet barefoot and wearing only shorts.

Search crews have put in nearly 5,000 hours and scoured 50 square miles on foot, horseback and by air.

We fully expect Mike to be found, said Arcadia Fire Chief Kurt Norwood. We've never stopped believing and we are not going to stop believing until we get some type of resolution.

Experts say that with temperatures hovering in the mid 80's and with little food or water, surviving in these rugged mountains for more than a week would be difficult.


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