Search may use man’s pet dog

Investigators hope that the bond between a man and his dog will help lead to missing San Luis Obispo man George Carpenter.

Scooter, Carpenter’s black Labrador retriever found last week in a remote area of Monterey County, will likely be taken back today to where Carpenter’s truck was found to see if he can lead authorities to Carpenter.

Carpenter, who has dementia, has been missing since Dec. 23.

Carpenter’s family describes the relationship between the dog, which Carpenter adopted from Woods Humane Society five years ago, and owner as dedicated.

“Scooter and George were so tight,” said Beth Wonson, Carpenter’s daughter-in-law, in an e-mail. “Scooter would sit in George’s lap (no easy feat) and follow his every footstep.”

Carpenter, retired from law enforcement, worked as a canine officer at one point in his career, making him comfortable with handling dogs, she said.

“But Scooter was not a working dog, he is a spoiled dog who his master loved a great deal,” Wonson said.

A San Luis Obispo rescue team comprised of about two dozen people will follow on Sunday. A search team from the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department will also assist.

The team will spend daylight hours combing for clues of his whereabouts, said Capt. Chris Staley of the San Luis Obispo police.

Investigators with the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department spent most of last weekend searching the rugged terrain between Big Sur and Fort Hunter Liggett in southern Monterey County where Carpenter’s truck was found during an aerial search.

The truck was spotted after Scooter wandered up to a residence in a remote area about seven miles inland from the coastal hamlet of Gorda.

Authorities said that the dog traveled three to five miles from where the truck was located.

“We can’t rule out the chance that Scooter stayed with Carpenter until he was found,” said Sgt. Mark Maki, who coordinates the local search and rescue team.

Sunday’s search will expand on the previous one and retrace areas that Carpenter might have gone.

“We are just trying to put a lot of boots on the ground,” Maki said. “If Scooter is able to assist on Saturday, we will form a plan from there.”

According to Carpenter’s family, Scooter is up to the challenge.

“Scooter is doing really well,” Wonson said. “Pretty skinny but glad to be home. … We are hopeful for some form of resolution.”

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939.