Mr. Chili, John Barraco’s beloved Labrador, still is missing nearly a month after he was lost during a car crash in the eastern Sierra Nevada.
The crash occurred on Highway 120 on Oct. 14 when the van Barraco and his girlfriend were traveling cross-country in had a brake malfunction. Barraco shattered several bones in his foot in the crash.
Barraco’s father, sister and girlfriend joined him in mounting a search for Mr. Chili. The Mono County Sheriff’s Office and Mono County Animal Control also got involved, setting traps and posting fliers.
Barraco said Saturday that this large community effort to reunite a traveler and his dog continues. They have found no signs of Mr. Chili. Animal control officers set up traps and placed pieces of Barraco’s clothing at strategic points in the wilderness to try to lure the dog to his master’s scent.
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The family holds out hope that Mr. Chili still is alive. Because three weeks of searching has yielded very few clues, they believe he probably has been picked up by someone in the area. Quite a few Mono County residents have followed the search on Facebook, so Barraco hopes that more traditional media coverage could reach Mr. Chili’s protectors – who may not be on Facebook.
Those searching have not found any evidence that Mr. Chili has died, either. They’ve been on the lookout for carrion birds or remains but have not found anything.
Barraco and his family returned home to Florida about two weeks ago. He is recovering well; the pins in his toes are scheduled to be removed in three weeks. He hopes this will keep him off crutches and out of wheelchairs, as that routine has become tedious.
Above all, Barraco hopes Mr. Chili is found – even if he isn’t returned – before the snow and cold weather hit the mountains.