Colorado Hiker Forced To Leave Dog For Dead On Mountain Relinquishes Custody After Animal Cruelty Charge

A Colorado hiker who was forced to, in the moment, really contemplate the meaning of “man’s best friend” has been made to relinquish custody of his 5-year-old German Shepard Rottweiler Missy after he abandoned the dog on a mountain, all as part of a plea bargain to avoid punishment for charges of animal cruelty.

Anthony Ortolani, 29, took Missy on a hike along with a 19-year-old friend back on August 5. And what happened next is something every dog owner probably fears when considering the safety of their canine companions — Ortolani was faced with a situation during which he had to contrast his own safety with that of his dog, and worse, he had to leave her behind on the mountain as a storm rolled in.

By the time Ortolani made the decision to leave Missy behind to protect himself and the friend, the dog’s paws had been cut to ribbons by the rough mountain terrain. Ortolani and the friend had taken turns carrying Missy, who weighs 112 pounds, for two hours before he made the painful decision to leave her behind on the mountain and seek shelter.

When he got to safety, Ortolani contacted officials, who informed him they were unable to send any rescue crews for a dog. On August 11, Missy was still on the mountain, and hikers Scott and Amanda Washburn administered first aid to the pup, who was still too heavy to carry down the mountain, before starting a Facebook campaign to arrange for her rescue.

dog missy rescue

Eventually, Missy was rescued and taken in by one of her rescuers. Ortolani was charged, and says of his decision to leave Missy behind:

“Having trained, professional, well-equipped people saying it’s too risky to go up there to get a dog out of there, I couldn’t see the responsibility or how it would make sense for me to get untrained, unequipped, not professional people to go risk their lives to get the dog.”

Do you think that Ortolani’s abandonment of Missy is understandable, or was it right for him to be forced to let someone else adopt Missy?