A 2-year-old border collie in Fort Collins, Colorado, needs the public's help to get avalanche rescue training.
“He's a very independent, very motivated, high-drive dog,” said Jeanine Neskey, Ripp’s owner.
As soon as Ripp was born, Neskey knew he was the right dog for the job.
“He was born the day after Christmas. So, his first winter, he was too little to do a whole lot. But we were able to get started and introduce him to snow and introduce him to skis,” Neskey said.
Ever since Ripp's first ride through Colorado’s snow-covered mountains, he’s been training two-to-three hours per day to become Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol's first avalanche rescue dog.
“Watching him pull people out of a snow cave is pretty impressive when they're, like, double his weight or more,” Neskey said.
Ripp was 8 months old when he attended his first avalanche training in Aspen. Now he's been invited to the Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment Winter Canine Camp at Arapahoe Basin in just a few weeks. But training to be an avalanche rescue dog isn’t cheap.
Ripp will need new winter gear and a place to stay while training. There are also additional costs that come with getting Ripp certified.
Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol Director Mac Fuller said adding a K-9 to their entirely volunteer-based team will help them rescue even more people.
“If someone is buried without a beacon, having that extra level of detectability with Ripp is just huge and makes all the difference,” explained Fuller.
Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol covers Cameron Pass, located 65 miles west of Fort Collins. Fuller said there's often no cell service and the nearest emergency services are often more than two hours away.
Neskey started a GoFundMe online fundraiser to help with Ripp's educational costs.
The C-RAD Winter Course will take place at A-Basin from Feb. 11 through Feb. 15.
This story was originally reported by Claire Lavezzorio at Scripps News Denver.
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