Saturday, August 18, 2012

Injured dog saved from mountaintop. Custody battle now looms.

I saw this story out of Colorado yesterday. It's one that's gone world-wide now.

A pair of hikers climbed a mountain in that state on August 11th, at at the top, 13,000 feet up, they found a female German Shepherd dog who was all by herself. The dog's feet and elbows were all torn open though, and the dog could not walk down. The dog was too much for these two to carry, so they dressed her wounds, left her some water since there was none up there for her otherwise, then went back down the mountain and tried to find someone--anyone--who would help rescue the dog.

The local mountain rescue services don't go up the mountains for dogs. Just people.

Persevering, the couple publicized the plight on a website for hikers and mountain climbers and soon a 8-person team of volunteers assembled and they hiked up, recovered the dog, and carried her all the way back down in a modified backpack just before a storm swept the mountain range. The dog almost certainly would not have survived the storm.

Well they took the dog to a vet, and other than starvation and dehydration and the damage to her limbs caused by the bare, sharp rock on the mountain, the dog was ok. The two that originally found her made plans to adopt her and give her a good home. All was well with a happy ending.

Enter the villain, a cad named Anthony Ortolani. He was the one who abandoned this dog, named Missy, on the mountain on August 5th, six days before the couple found her and 8 days before she was eventually rescued by the volunteer team. He stated that he'd been hiking there with Missy and a "younger hiker" and that Missy had torn her feet on the rock and lost her ability to walk on them. Fearing an approaching storm (and it snows up there year round), he made the decision to leave her behind and walk down to save himself and the other person. He left her without food or water and apparently made no effort to go back for her later, making the excuses that he thought she'd died in the storm and that he had to go out of state for his job. And now he wanted Missy back.

Naturally this spurred outrage from pretty much everyone. The couple that found her wanted to keep her, as did some of the rescuers. The vet was still holding the dog as her treatment wasn't complete. Then the local Sheriff's office got involved due to the circumstances behind the abandonment of this dog. And they just filed charges
against Ortolani for animal cruelty. Missy will now remain in the custody of Animal Control until a judge can decide who will get her.

Now as a dog owner and a hiker, I've tried to be objective about this. However I just cannot get my head around a set of circumstances that would cause me to leave any of my dogs behind and make no further effort to return for them. If that meant sheltering in place with my dog or calling for my own rescue from the scene (and please take my dog here, too...), I'd do that before leaving my pal. At the worst, if forced to leave, I'd arrange for shelter for my buddy and return as quickly as I could. If all else failed, there'd be a quick, humane gunshot administered, undoubtedly followed by a lifetime of grief and personal recrimination for having caused the problem by bringing the dog into such a situation. But under no circumstances could I just say goodbye to Murphy or any of my past dogs and walk away, leaving them lying there in pain to stare after me as I got smaller in the distance, never to return. Yeah, "it's just a dog", but to me, the dog becomes family when it becomes part of the pack. Me and Murphy may be a pack of two, but it's a forever thing and when I took him (and each of other others before him), it was with the understanding that I'd take care of my canine companion for life. Abandoning him on a mountaintop, injured and alone, then shrugging and pretending that he'd died as an excuse not to return for him...not an option.

I hope that this scumbag never gets Missy back, and that she finds a good home with one of the people who actually did make the effort to save her when her "pack leader" abandoned her. Hell, I'd take her here before seeing her go back to that toad. Murphy's been telling me that he wants a pet of his own and a dog like that deserves a whole lot better that a guy who would consign her to death in the elements.

Maybe I'm the crazy one here for thinking that, but every time I look at Murphy as he lies beside me here, I know that it's true. How about you other dog owners out there? Could any of you walk off and leave your buddies behind like that and make no effort to return for them?


  1. Not a hope in hell that I'd leave my girls anywhere like that. Like you, I'd stay with them. When the river ran through my house (for the 2nd time) and the fire department came to get me, the dogs went first, me after them.

  2. The very foundation of the pact we made, when we domesticated animals, was that in return for their services and their lives, we would feed, shelter, and care for them. Whether we're talking a cow or a dog, maltreatment and uncaring abandonment of a domesticated animal breaks one of the fundamental tenets of humanity, and makes the scumbag doing it no longer human.

  3. I question his decision on taking the dog hiking where she could get hurt that badly in the first place. Honestly, the creep should be banned from ever owning a pet of any type, as well as be neutered--irresponsibility like that indicates he won't be any better of a parent.

    I wouldn't leave my dog like that, not unless my children's lives depended on it. Even then, I'd make damn sure my dog didn't suffer. Then again, I happen to be a responsible adult who cares more about animals' and children's lives than I do other adults who can make choices and fend for themselves.

    God have mercy on the bastard's soul...I sure wouldn't, had I the chance.

  4. Nope... Scumbag doesn't DESERVE a pet...

  5. I would imagine his social and business life will take a huge hit (and should).

    I've been on that mountain and there is nothing difficult about it - just loose rock. I can't believe a full grown man can't fireman carry a large dog, especially downhill. Gutless wonder.

  6. Not a chance. Even if I did decide to take my dogs out on a hike with me, I'd be dang sure to bring provisions. If you have to leave them temporarily, provide shelter and water, and return as soon as you frikkin can! This guy deserves every page of the book that's going to be thrown at him, and that dog deserves a much better owner.

  7. You are not crazy. You are simply loyal.

    Sadly loyalty is in short supply today.

    The cad should have just shut up and let the rescuers have the dog to begin with and not talked to anyone.

    That way people could just think he was a jerk.But now that he has come out every now KNOWS he is a jerk.

  8. Oh, and one more thing... if he will abandon his dog and not lift a finger to go back for him, what makes one think he would come back for YOU. Hope his girlfriend (if he has one) sees that.

  9. You and I are on the same page here.

    Dude doesn't deserve the dog, he deserves a horsewhipping.

    You adopt a dog, make it a part of your pack, it's for the duration.

  10. Anonymous9:37 PM

    This dirt bag needs to be taken to the mountain his legs broken and left to die.
    I know this sounds harsh but that is what he did to this poor dog.

  11. I like animals very much, and my wife even more so.

    The reason we do not now have a dog (or any other pet) is that our respective schedules do not now give us sufficient time to spend with any pet we might adopt. And all indications are that our respective schedules will soon become even less conducive to responsible pet ownership.

    We love animals, and will not be unfair to them by adopting them as pets until such time as we are able to give them the care and attention and love they deserve.

    If this shmuck abandons a dog and takes no definitive action to retrieve her for 6 days, then the dog's best interests are certainly not with him.

    Missy deserves far better!

  12. Lu and I discussed this today and we agree. There is simply no way we'd abandon Trooper or Chrisi or Angus to an extended and painful death, alone on a mountain. Discarded like used food wrapper. Whatever happens with this scuzzball getting his dog back should shouldn't be among the options.
    He gave that up when he abandoned her to die in the elements on a mountain. Some people shouldn't have either kids or dogs.

  13. What this man did to his best friend disturbs me on so many levels it's hard to articulate.

    Guess the bottom line of that disturbance is about the process of his growing to 'manhood' and how he came to be so cold and uncaring. Even more disturbing is how many more like him are out there? Probably more than most of us prefer to believe.

    I wonder if there is a special level of hell just for animal abusers...

  14. Monsoon Matriarch, I don't know whether there is or is not "a special level of hell just for animal abusers." What I do know is that animal abusers seem to do other things which provide them accommodations in some of the hotter portions.

    Jeffrey Dahmer, Albert DeSalvo, Ted Bundy, Hitler, the Lords of Chaos gang in Florida -- they all abused and tortured animals.

  15. i originally read this post at 8:30 this morning, and it caused me to go play with and hug the hell out of my puppy.

    dude's a piece of scum. he absolutely has no right to that dog.

  16. It's good that I don't get to meet that guy, he'd have two VERY skinned knees (and some other parts) and would be left up on top of the mountain with no water. (bu-bye!).

    I'm glad charges were filed, and I am so very glad others cared enough to get this dog to safety for the love it deserves.

  17. Missy is a beauty. I hope she has a better life with the folks who brought her down that mountain than she had with the one who took her up.

  18. I'm with everybody else here.
    NO WAY that scum bucket deserves that dog back!