Marion County Sheriff's Office Volunteer Search & Rescue members rescued a 12-year old Labrador/Golden Retriever mix after he was unable to climb up a steep hill following a hike with his owner Wednesday afternoon.

Searchers were called at about 2:37pm, to an area near Abiqua Falls outside of Scotts Mills.

The dog's owner, Georgia Baker, 59, of Woodburn, started at the trailhead and took the 2-mile round trip hike to the falls around noon.  The trail is rated moderately difficult, with several areas where the incline is very steep.  Previous hikers have left ropes along to the trail to assist others when climbing back up the hill from the falls and the river.

After visiting the falls, Baker and her dog, Dan, started to climb the steep incline to return to her car.

Baker's aging dog weighs 156 pounds and suffers from arthritis.  Baker told deputies he struggled when trying to climb the hill and ultimately gave up.  The steep incline, coupled with the high temperatures, were more than the dog could handle.  Baker was unable to assist the dog. Other hikers saw their plight and called 911.

MCSO Sergeant Shane Burnham mobilized Team 18; a 10-member volunteer search and rescue team that has been trained in steep-incline rescues.  Team members range in age from 14-21 years of age and complete a 200-hour certified Search & Rescue Academy before serving on the team.   They train and practice their skills regularly in preparation for a possible human rescue.

Once on scene, the rescuers devised a sled and used plastic webbing to secure Dan for the ride up the hill.  Working together, they used ropes and sheer strength to pull and carry the dog up several hundred feet to safety.  The rescue ended at about 8:00pm.

Dan was reunited with Baker and headed home to Woodburn.  Baker expressed her appreciation to Sgt. Burnham and Team 18 members before departing.

Sergeant Burnham commented, "We train to search and find lost hikers, but this was a great opportunity to utilize our training to reunite Ms. Baker and Dan.  The team members did an excellent job in this recovery".

Photo: Marion County Sheriff's Office