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?