Missy being rescued off of Mount Bierstadt. Photo courtesy: Alex Gelb
Missy, a dog rescued by a group of Colorado hikers after she was left on Mount Bierstadt, will live with one of her rescuers, after her original owner agreed to relinquish ownership.
Anthony Ortolani, Missy's owner, said he had to abandon her in order to help a young friend safely down the mountain. He and his 19-year-old hiking companion carried the 112-pound German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix for two hours after her paws became injured. When the weather deteriorated and they could no longer carry her they made the difficult decision to leave her.
But Ortolani's actions were heavily criticized when he did not arrange to go back for her after being told Search and Rescue does not retrieve animals.
Missy was found alive eight days later by a pair of hikers who posted pictures to a popular hiker's forum online, which lead to an incredible rescue by a group of strangers determined to rescue Missy off the mountain.
The Denver Post reports that Ortolani said he had received death threats after the story came out. After receiving the threats, Ortolani grew concerned for the safety of his family and for Missy as well.
Ortolani faced animal cruelty charges but will plead guilty to a less serious violation and has agreed to give Missy to one of her rescuers.
Missy is currently in Clear Creek County animal shelter. Ortolani said, "I would much rather see her with one of the rescuers who were very affectionate to her obviously then sitting in a kennel somewhere in Clear Creek County."
His attorney, Jennifer Edwards of the Animal Law Center, said they have reached a tentative deal with the Clear Creek District Attorney’s Office. Ortalani could enter a plea this week.
"Mr. Ortolani wants the best for Missy," said Edwards. "I took this case because I want to see some changes in how mountain communities handle this type of situation. We would hope that there be some sort of process in place to assist animal owners who choose to take their beloved pets up into the mountains."
"I don't want to give her up, I love her, but those people risked life and limb to get her out of there and that has got to be worth something," Ortolani said.
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