ARCHULETA COUNTY, COLORADO: Rich Moore was a 71-year-old man from Pagosa Springs, Colorado, who loved hiking and his dog Finney.
He disappeared on August 19, 2023, after setting out to climb Blackhead Peak, a mountain near his home.
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His body was found more than two months later by a hunter, with his faithful dog still at his side.
A tragic end to a long search for missing Rich Moore
Moore’s disappearance sparked a massive search effort by the Taos Search and Rescue (TSR) team, which used a helicopter to access the steep and rugged terrain.
Despite their efforts, they were unable to find Moore or his dog, ultimately leading to the search being called off.
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Nonetheless, Moore’s friends and family persisted in their search, praying for his safe return.
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One of her friends, Ladona Wills, posted on Facebook in August, asking for help and prayers.
She wrote: “My friend Rich Moore and his dog Finney are missing from Pagosa Springs, Colorado. They went missing Aug. 19 in a remote hiking area outside Pagosa Springs.”
She added, “SAR efforts have been called off and my friends and family are now searching. To all my Colorado friends and anyone passing through the area, keep an eye out.”
“Rich is an experienced hiker and Finney is a powerful, well-behaved dog, so we don’t understand how this happened. Please pray for them and their families,” she concluded.
Dog Finney: A faithful companion to the end who watched over Rich Moore’s body for six weeks
On October 30, 2023, a hunter in the Rio Blanco watershed, approximately 2.5 miles east of Blackhead Peak, came across the body of Moore and his dog Finney, who was still alive and with him , the Denver Gazette reported.
The sheriff’s office said a search and rescue team was sent by helicopter to the area to locate and recover Mr. Moore’s body on October 31, a day after he was found.
Finney, the 14-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, is believed to have stayed with his owner for seven weeks, surviving harsh conditions and the threat of predators.
The hunter notified the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office, who confirmed Moore’s identity and took Finney to a veterinary hospital for treatment.
The dog was later reunited with Moore’s family. Moore’s cause of death has not yet been determined.
The family finally has a chance to turn the page
TSR member Delinda Vanne-Brightyn, who was part of the initial search for Moore with her certified search dog, offered her condolences to the family and team.
She expressed relief, saying they were happy to find some sort of closure and have their dog home.
She explained: “It was so steep we were inserted by a helicopter. It was found 2.5 miles east of the mountain peak, below where we were inserted.
“We searched just below the summit and directly west, down the mountain toward where his car was,” Vanne-Brightyn wrote.
Blackhead Peak is a 12,500-foot mountain located on the western edge of the South San Juan Wilderness in Archuleta County.
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