Scott Washburn and his wife Amanda were hiking on Beirstadt mountain in Colorado when they found an injured German Shepherd named Missy. Unable to move, Missy was lying down with bloodied rocks around her. Scott and Amanda gave Missy food and water, but were unable to get her out. Scott later told NBC News, "My wife broke down crying at the thought of leaving the dog to die."
They posted a photo of the dog and a message in the 14ers.com – a forum for hikers - letting them know about their encounter with the abandoned dog. Scott wrote, "Her paws are pretty damaged and she refused to walk (unfortunately she is too big to carry and wasn't cooperative)."
The photo of Missy the Washburns posted to 14ers.com that got a rescue effort underway.
When they heard of the dog's plight on one of Colorado's tallest peaks, a group of climbers decided to help the dog in distress. Dozens of people mobilized to find the dog. One group of eight, including Scott Washburn, went looking for the dog this past Monday. They were successful in finding her. Snow began to fall when they reached her and she was severely dehydrated and having difficulties breathing. They ended up carrying the 112 pound dog out in a backpack and it took nine hours.
It began to snow when rescuers found Missy on the mountainside.
"Her survival and shear will to live are astounding by any measure," Scott said. As soon as they got her down the mountain, they took her to a veternarian who volunteered to look at her. She found the dog had no fractures, no internal injuries or other permanent damage from her ordeal.
Missy's paws were badly injured and she was severely dehydrated so she had to be carried down.
When news of Missy's rescue broke on 14ers.com Anthony Ortolani, Missy's owner, posted to the thread, "I am at a complete loss of words. My gratitude for the people involved in this is without measure. I humbly beg the forgiveness of the community and most of all my Missy Girl. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart."
It turns out Anthony had to leave Missy on the mountain when she became hurt and the weather took a turn for the worse on August 5. He said that after her paws became injured from their climb, he had tried to carry her out, but was unable to carry her far. He had a young teenager accompanying him, and when a storm apprached, he was forced to leave Missy on the mountain. He contacted the Sherrif’s department and Search and Rescue for help, but was told it was too dangerous to send a team to retrieve the dog. No further action was taken as rescuers do not mobilize for animals. Anthony appears to have not made any further attempt to rescue Missy.
After an investigation, Clear Creek County Sheriff's Office charged Anthony with animal cruelty on Friday.
Scott Washburn has told local officials he and his wife would like to adopt Missy. Scott said he understands Anthony's choice to leave her, but not his choice not to return, given there was a lapse of eight days between when Anthony left her on the mountain and when she was found.
He wrote, "When we found her on Saturday we knew that we would be unable to bring her out ourselves and with extremely heavy hearts we left her on a rock knowing that she may die. That being said, this is as far as my understanding goes. Despite being forced to abandon her, we came back for her. When I left the trailhead on Monday morning I fully expected to find that she had passed away, yet I went anyway. Dozens of people devoted their time and effort to find a dog they had no connection with other than a photograph and the idea that looking for her was the right thing to do. I could make numerous other arguments but I believe that this is the heart of the issue."
The case will go to court on October 16 and a judge will determine who Missy should go to live with.
Missy's group of rescuers.