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Strangers unite to rescue abandoned dog from treacherous mountain

P8010053_thumb By Tamara | August 17, 2012 | Comments (67)

Missy was rescued by a group of hikers off a Colorado peak

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 which got a group of strangers to save her
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.

Weather got nasty when Missy's rescuers found her
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 was severely dehydrated from her ordeal and had to be carried down the mountain
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."

Rescuers took turns carrying Missy off the mountain

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.

Missy was taken to a vet right away

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.

The group of rescuers of Missy
Missy's group of rescuers.


  • Hikers who rescued abandoned dog off a Colorado mountain to be interviewed
  • Heroic hikers who rescued dog off Colorado mountain tell their story
  • Dog abandoned on mountain to be adopted by one of the hikers who rescued her
  • Man who left his dog on Colorado mountain pleads guilty to animal cruelty 
  • Dog enjoying life with new family after rescue off mountain 

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    Comments on this Article

    hartverwarmend,zo'n lieve mensen die zich ontfermen over de hond. prachtig...proficiat..god bless you all
    This story was just televised on the Ellen Degeneres Show. All 8 of the people who participated in the "rescue" climb were there. It was so very cool actually seeing them & hearing them describe the rescue. Amazing, they all were so amazing! What a beautiful group of strangers who banded together 2 rescue the dog. The dog's owner relinquished his ownership when he failed to return 4 the dog. What a creep!
    Did you all see this? I call bullsh t on his excuses, and he never even reached out to the climbing community for help to get her...he didn't abandon her? Ok, he left her to die. How come he didn't have something like the fellow WHO CARRIED HER 112 LBS DOWN THE MOUNTAIN ON HIS BACK? http://denver.cbslocal.com/2012/09/16/man-accused-of-leaving-dog-on-mountain-wants-rescuer-to-have-her/ AHOLE
    Please let Scott and Amanda adopt Missy!! Anthony DOES NOT deserve to get her back!!
    God Bless Those Outstanding People For Going To Save This Fine Animal !!! I really Cannot Express Enough, How Much I Love You People For Doing That. A Word For The Guy That Left This Fine Animal Up There For Eight Days....God Will Deal With You For That.You Have Done An Unthinkable Act In My Book,And I Know For Fact,That You Will Just Waste Your Time Going To Court On This If You Are Dumb Enough To.The Fact Is You Are Now Proven Dumb,And ABUSIVE To Animals.Bastard! Owner???? You Are A Rotten Idiot/Fool.I think You Should Go To Court,So They Can Blacklist You From Owning Another Animal Forever.That Really Needs To Be Done Here. FOOL !! This Dog Will Go To A Loving Person. God Bless
    Amazing people! I think they deserve to adopt Missy! If Anthony cared about saving his dog he could have done more. Instead these strangers came back for her! Enough said!
    No, no no. Anthony should not have custody of the dog again and efforts should be taken to insure he does not have another dog. You never - ever give up when a family member is in peril, and family includes your animals... Shame on you for taking Missy on that hike and shame on you for being so self centered you could not admit your mistake and ask for help to get her home. I certainly hope Missy will have a spokes person in court for the custody hearing. Her interests need to be represented. It sounds like the Washburns would be the perfect home for her.
    Missy was abandoned! Obivisously Anthony knew about the '49ers' page since that was how he found out Missy was saved. Why didn't Anthony atleast offer to head up the climb to save MIssy if he was such a devoted animal parent. No, he waited until others went at their own peril and saved Missy, then he stepped up and wanted her. If Anthony was as devoted an animal parent as he claims, he should have never brought Missy on that climb. Furthermore, at Missy's first sign of injury, Anthony should have immediately stopped his 'quest' and taken Missy down before she was 'too injured' to climb back down. Chances are Missy was staying where she was because she was waiting for Anthony to come back. She couldn't understand him leaving her there to die. Anthony should not be allowed a dog again. Anthony behaved in a reckless and abusive manner regarding Missy and I'm glad he was 'atleast charged' in leaving her there. It's common knowledge that 'Mountain Rescue' will only go to save a human during the weather situation Anthony climbed down in. Why didn't Anthony post on '49ers' that he needed help saving his dog the day he climbed down?
    Dogs are not mountain climbers. He probably took her there with the intent of abandoning her. She has a microchip so he knew they would trace him. He is a piece of caca and should never be allowed to have a pet. To purposely leave her and not attempt to save her is unforgivable.
    it is absolutely disgusting that he didn't go back for her, i would be distraught if i had to leave any of my dogs behind. Of course he shouldn't have her back, and i hope he doesn't!!!
    Scott Washburn and his wife should have custody of Missy.. They are the ones who cared enough for Missy to go back and rescue her.. The old owner is the one who made the choice to leave her and not come back for her.. That is not love... Please let Scott Washburn and his wife adopt Missy... Missy will be in a lot better home in my eyes...
    The prior owner should not have the dog. I cant imagine leaving my dogs to die.
    All i want is that Missy should get warm sheltes and a loving parents not a coward.No matter what a life is so expensive no one has a right to leave someone to die,heartless I would say.
    Thank God for Scott Washburn and his wife Amanda! I'm not sure why Anthony made the choice to abandon her there. I've promised my girl Lara that if we ever come across such a situation "WE GET HOME TOGETHER OR DIE TRYING"
    I wish there was a way I could contact the team, and/or the one who rescued Missy. I want to tell the how good it is to hear of such loving and caring people. Anyway, I want to say that the guy who left her (Missy) is an idiot, and this story saddens me so much that anyone would do that for ANY reason. There are just no excuses for it. I pray along with everyone else, that when this goes to court in October, the judge make the right decision and grant that the rescuer of this beautiful dog get to keep her. It sounds like that will be the case, as this guy gave up any rights to her when he left her. Abandonment of her or any property is legally giving up his rights to own her. I am certain that she will get the new loving responsible home she deserves. There just seems to be no limit to how stupid some people can be. God bless the team that cared enough to go and get this beautiful dog. I am new to this kind of website, but if anyone knows how I might leave a comment for the rescuers could you let me know, or maybe I just did.
    Ok My opinion What the hell was the dog up there in the first place for? Secondly if he brought the dog up there once he will do it again. There is no reason for a pet to be put in that situation fyi pet not mountain climber. NOT a safe owner! Let the people who saved the pup and carried Missy to safety keep her. The prior idiot should never/ever be allowed to have a pet never.
    Lots of emotion here and that is understandable. I volunteer at a local shelter and after 5 days if a dog is not claimed the owner loses all legal rights. I think that should be the case here. This dog was abandoned and the rescuers should be the new legal owners.
    My heart goes out to Missy. What an exceptional dog! She should be living with her heros, Scott and Amanda. As for her original owner - jail time would be too good for him!
    I'm praying to God, please let the judge make the right decision, please give Missy to Scott and Amanda. Please teach Anthony a lesson and let him know how stupid and selfish person he is. The rescuers, you are amazing people..
    His first mistake was taking Missy way up there to hike that mountain,and his second was leaving her there to die.How does he sleep at night? He left her there and never returned to get her.She was left to die what would have been a painful and lonely death by herself.The sadness for her,wondering where he went,was he coming back? What did I do wrong? He gave up his rights to this dog when he abandoned her and left her alone to die.This is disgusting! God sent Angels to save her,people that didnt even know her went above and beyond the call of duty to rescue Missy.This sweet girl belongs with Scott and Amanda,where she will be loved and taken care of for the rest of her life.And as for the previous owner, he should be fined,maybe even some jail time for animal cruelty and abandonment, and not allowed to have a dog for the rest of his life.He doesn't deserve to have one! Dogs deserve better. Im praying that the judge makes the right call on this one and send Missy home with Scott and Amanda!!
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