Missing Arcadia firefighter’s dog found at trailhead where trip began

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The dog belonging to Arcadia firefighter Michael Herdman, who disappeared in the Ventura County back country more than a week ago, has been found.

Herdman, 36, was last seen June 13. He and another Arcadia firefighter-paramedic, Tyler Byars, were backpacking in the Los Padres National Forest north of Fillmore when Herdman left a campsite to chase after his dog, Byars told authorities.

Authorities have been hoping the dog, Duke, can lead them to Herdman, but despite multiple sightings of the German shorthair mix, they had not been able to catch the dog.


But early Sunday afternoon, some people -- possibly friends or relatives of Herdman’s -- found Duke at the trailhead where Herdman and Byars began their backpacking trip, Ventura County Sheriff’s Capt. Don Aguilar said.

Duke was exhausted and had lost weight, so after being found, the dog “got some IVs,” Aguilar said.

“Basically he traveled 12 miles from where we saw him three days ago,” he said.

Aguilar said Duke would certainly be resting for the remainder of the day but might be used to help search for Herdman later.

The Arcadia Firefighters’ Assn. posted a photo of the dog on its Facebook page Sunday afternoon with the caption, “They found Duke!!!! Great news!!! Now for Mike!!!”

As many as 90 trained search and rescue volunteers turned out Sunday morning to continue the intense hunt for Herdman, officials said.

The search began a week ago: Byars, who was camping for the first time, said it took him two days to hike out of the forest and go for help.


One searcher sustained a minor leg injury Saturday, bringing the number of people hurt during the rescue effort to five, Aguilar said. Last week, one searcher, Fillmore Fire Department Assistant Chief Bill Herrera, suffered a severe snake bite on his hand requiring 52 vials of antivenom, sheriff’s Sgt. Eric Buschow has said.

The searchers, trained in mountain rescue, are scouring a 50-square-mile area of canyons, cliffs and boulder-clogged creeks. They come from agencies throughout the state and the federal Department of Homeland Security.

Their efforts are being supplemented by two drones, which were used Saturday and overnight and will probably continue Sunday, Aguilar said.

Herdman was barefoot and dressed in a T-shirt and shorts when Byars last saw him.

The search is still considered a rescue rather than a recovery, Aguilar said. Officials hope to find Herdman alive.

Herdman, who lives near Dana Point and is an experienced outdoorsman, has a wife and young daughter.

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