Dog belonging to missing San Luis Obispo man is found in Gorda

The black Labrador retriever belonging to missing San Luis Obispo man George Carpenter was reunited with his wife, Dixie, on Friday — two days after it was found north of San Simeon.

No sign of Carpenter, who has dementia, or his truck has been found. Carpenter, 74, was reported missing on Dec. 23 and was last seen driving his 1989 Jeep Comanche to Laguna Lake Park with his dog, Scooter.

If weather permits, an aerial search will be done by the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department of the area near where the dog was found. A search could occur as early as today.

On Wednesday, a man living near the Big Sur community of Gorda off Highway 1 reported that Scooter wandered up to his home in the late afternoon. The dog appeared to be thin and in fair condition, authorities said. The home was about seven miles into the woods.

The dog was wearing a collar and the license number on the tag matched the one issued by San Luis Obispo County Animal Services.

When the man called the number on the dog tag, he was able to connect with Carpenter’s family.

This is the first lead in the month-old case despite a rigorous search of San Luis Obispo County and an online social network of more than 1,500 people spreading the word of Carpenter’s disappearance.

A group of more than 200 volunteers gathered on New Year’s Day to help search for Carpenter. Several teams scoured the area near Gorda, but did not see signs of Carpenter then.

Finding Scooter gives a starting point for new searches, authorities say.

“The weather was treacherous and dangerous today (Friday), but if it is any better Saturday, a helicopter search will be done,” San Luis Obispo police Lt. Steve Tolley said. “This definitely narrows the search area down and gives us a starting point.”