‘Miracle dog’ left on mountain to die is rescued by hikers. Now, the guy who left her there wants her back
Aug 17, 2012, 12:19 PM EST
It’s Kramer vs. Kramer for dogs — a custody battle that’s sparked an online range war and attracted media attention from across the nation. It’s all over Missy, a German Shepherd which was rescued from a 13,000-foot mountain in Colorado after eight days alone without food or water. But after strangers — and social media — saved the plucky hound from certain death, now the owner who left her there has surfaced and wants the dog back. Let the controversy begin.
Hikers Scott Washburn and his wife, Amanda, spotted Missy cowering between some rocks while the couple were climbing Mount Bierstadt on Aug. 13. What the beejezzus was a dog doing alone on the side of a mountain? That’s what they wondered. The dog was wounded and scared, but at more than 100 pounds it was too big for the Washburns to carry down by themselves. So they treated its wounds (cut paws and legs from climbing on he rocks) and left some water, and went down to get help.
After being told that forest rangers could not mount a rescue — such missions are only for stranded people, they explained — the Washburns started contacting their friends. They posted Missy’s predicament on the climbing site 14ers.com, and started a Facebook page. The response was immediate and huge: soon a rescue party was headed back to the spot where they left the dog. Its wounds were open again when they found her, but they managed to carry the pooch back down the mountain in one of the hiker’s oversized backpacks.
Upon their return, the hikers entrusted the dog to a local vet, who told Washburn that it was “the miracle dog of the century, and although she was severely dehydrated she has, miraculously, no long-term or permanent damage.”
But now because every good story needs an antagonist, please welcome 29-year-old Anthony Ortolani. He’s the dog’s owner, and the one who left Missy on the mountain.
Ortolani told The Denver Channel that he was forced to leave his pet on the mountain Aug. 5, when a storm moved in and he became worried for the safety of a younger hiker who was with him. He said his dog’s feet were cut up from walking on sharp rocks and it could no longer walk.
“I just don’t think that his actions have shown that he is a responsible dog owner,” Washburn said. “We understand that he had to leave her there. My wife and I did the same thing. But we ended up going back for her, and we went to some pretty extreme lengths to do so. In my opinion, that is not a responsible dog owner, who doesn’t really care about her.”
the Washburns would like to adopt Missy, but Ortolani wants the dog back.
Washburn and his wife, as well as other members of the rescue team, would now like to adopt Missy, Washburn said. But Ortolani is asking for his dog back. It’s going to be up to the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office and animal control officers to make the call — the former who say that Ortolani could be prosecuted for animal abuse.
“The dog was basically abandoned up there,” Sheriff’s Sgt. Rick Saf said. “He [Ortolani] made no initial attempt. After three days, he thought the dog was deceased so he made no attempts to reclaim the dog.”
Meanwhile, things got pretty nasty on the 14ers.com message forum, which had to be temporarily shut down (at 46 pages) because of the heated nature of the comments. Sample posts:
— “All I can say is, you left Missy on that mountain, and now she deserves to live with someone who cared enough to rescue her. (Seven) days she laid there bleeding, hurt, alone, tired, hungry and thirsty. Her old life ended when the people she counted on the most left her, and her new life begins with one of the rescuers, or anyone who won’t abandon her, for that matter.”
— “I feel that the owner should spend 8 days and nights on the Sawtooth himself without water, food, shelter. Then I would advocate that he has earned a slight chance to get her back.”
We’ll let you know when a decision is made. For now, please toast the miracle dog, and maybe throw the dog in your life and extra Snausage or two.
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