Inyo County officials on Monday said they believe they have found the dog belonging to a Huntington Beach woman who was reported missing by her husband near a campground east of Bishop four days ago.
A search and rescue team discovered the dog alive about about 2 1/2 miles from where 60-year-old Sheryl Powell vanished, according to the Inyo County Sheriff's Office. The animal matches the description of the couple's 4-pound Yorkie-poo, the agency said.
Powell disappeared with her dog Miley after taking out the pet while her husband moved their Jeep near a remote campsite in the Bristlecone Pine Forest area in the White Mountains east of Bishop, according to the Sheriff's Office.
"This took 5 minutes or less but when he got back she and Miley were gone without a trace," the couple's daughter, Farrah Powell, wrote on a GoFundMe page set up on Saturday to help "with funding for helicopter search in the event the search becomes scaled down, which they did say would happen."
After parking their car, Powell's husband spent about one hour looking before calling authorities from the Grandview Campground at around 2 p.m. Friday, the Sheriff's Office said.
The incident has drawn search and rescue teams from across California, including ground and aerial units equipped with a thermal imaging device, the agency said.
The family suspects a "high likelihood of abduction which many rescue personnel are skeptical of," Farrah Powell said on GoFundMe.
"They keep insisting she just got lost (she didn’t bring any food or water and had no plans to hike yet, they were just setting up camp) or the dog got away (she weighs 4 lbs was on a leash and has a bad leg so she can’t run)," Farrah Powell wrote. "I hope they’re right but I think they should be pursuing the possibility of abduction as well."
She added that the criminal investigation had focused on her mother's friends and her father, who she said has refused to leave the campsite and "is on the verge of breakdown." Farrah Powell called the idea of her father's connection to the disappearance "absurd."
On Monday, the Sheriff's Office said investigators don't suspect any link to Powell's husband.
"They have been married for 42 years," Farrah Powell said of her parents in a Facebook post. "They love each other, they love my brother and me, and they love the outdoors."
"Joe had just kind of semi-retired," their friend Lorie Geery told KTLA. "And I can’t imagine either one of them wanting to go through the rest of their life alone."
The family has been "extremely cooperative," the Sheriff's Office said.
Challenges in the search include rattlesnakes, gullies, shale slopes, direct sunlight and low shade, according to the agency.
Officials described Powell as an experienced hiker about 5 feet, 3 inches tall and 120 pounds with brown hair and eyes. Miley, the dog, was described as a 4-pound black and gray Yorkie-poo with a red leash.
Anyone with information can contact the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office at 760-878-0383.