<em>Patt Morrison</em> is known for its innovative discussions of local politics and culture, as well as its presentation of the effects of national and world news on Southern California.
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Dog days of hiking: How far should we go for man’s best friend?

Baxter the dog rests in the litter after being rescued Sunday morning.
Baxter the dog rests in the litter after being rescued Sunday morning.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

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The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department made an emergency rescue early Sunday morning. The day before, Baxter had left on a day hike; it was longer than he was used to traveling and he cut his feet on the way. By the time he reached the end of the trail, he was too exhausted to make the return trip from the Bridge to Nowhere and the emergency call was made. Baxter is a dog, begging the question from some: where should taxpayer funded rescue teams draw the line? Do they have any discretion in deciding whether to dispatch a rescue team? And when should rescuees be the ones to pay? In much of Europe, you are responsible for yourself, and many outdoor enthusiasts travel with insurance specifically to offset costs should they need to be rescued. In the U.S., whether you have to pay depends on where exactly you are when you get into trouble. The National Park Service spends nearly $5 million annually on search and rescue (SAR) missions and that doesn't include the cost of hundreds of thousands of man hours that go into these searches.


Steve Whitmore, spokesman with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department