Friday, August 17, 2012

Missy, the German Shepherd who inspired a custody battle...

This morning, I read with interest a news story on Yahoo! about a dog named Missy who went hiking with her owner, Anthony Ortolani.  Ortolani had taken Missy on Mount Bierstadt in Colorado, a challenging peak that isn't considered the most difficult, but is not recommended for inexperienced hikers or their pets.  According to Ortolani, a storm came in and he was concerned about another hiker who was with him.  Missy's paws were badly injured and she was too heavy for him to carry.  So he left her there on the mountain to weather the storm alone, but apparently never went back to save her.  Missy ended up spending eight long days hungry, thirsty, and injured.

On August 11, Scott Washburn and his wife, Amanda, stumbled across Missy, who was cowering behind some rocks.  She was hungry, dehydrated, and badly injured.  The Washburns tried to patch her up with their first aid kit and gave her some water.  Then they hiked back to the ranger station to ask for help.  The ranger stated that, regrettably, the Forest Service couldn't rescue the dog.

So the Washburns took to the Internet and begged for help.  A group of seven people, mostly strangers, hiked up to where Missy was and got her off the mountain.  The hikers put her in a backpack and carried her down, then took her to a veterinarian.  Miraculously, Missy survived the ordeal with no permanent damage, but now Anthony Ortolani has come out of the woodwork and wants his dog back.

As a dog owner myself, I am appalled that Ortolani simply left his dog on the mountain to die.  In fact, I am appalled that he took her up there in the first place.  Perhaps he was ignorant about the mountain and the potential dangers up there.  Still, it's hard for me to fathom hiking on a dangerous mountain with a beloved pet and just deserting her in a weak and injured condition.  It also amazes that Ortolani now has the nerve to ask for the dog back, after he threw her away like so much trash.  He left that dog on a mountain side to die.

Did he even thank the seven people who went back up to rescue his dog?

The case is now in the hands of the local animal control.  I have a sinking feeling that Ortolani might get his dog back.  She was presumably well cared for before that fateful hike and it sounds like things got bad quickly.  In the same position, I'm sure many people who would have decided to leave the dog.  However, it's inconceivable to me that Ortolani never went back for her and apparently didn't even leave her any food or water... or a note to someone who might find her.  Was she even wearing a collar?

I do think Anthony Ortolani deserves to face animal cruelty charges.  I also think that in a just world, Scott and Amanda Washburn would get to adopt Missy.  Clearly they have a much bigger heart for her than her original owner does.


  1. I have been following this story as it unfolded on the 14ers website since last weekend and all during her rescue on the 13th as it happened. That day was my birthday and I can't think of a better birthday gift than hearing of her rescue! Ortolani's excuse for leaving her and not going back there was that he thought she had died after a couple of days (REALLY??? Died from bloody paws from your stupidity in putting her in that situation?!!) and that he had to leave town on business on Monday. WOW! Hell or high water wouldn't have had me on that business trip, not when my beloved dog baby was stuck up in the mountains. He made no further attempts to get her other than a few phone calls on Sunday. The best news of my day today however is that he has been charged today with animal cruelty! I am hoping that goes a long way towards him losing any rights to her. She deserves better - she deserves Scott and Amanda.

  2. I totally agree. While I can empathize on one level that he had to make a difficult choice, he never should have taken her up there in the first place. The fact that Scott and Amanda did all they did for a "stray dog" who was injured speaks volumes about their character. The fact that Ortolani came out of the woodwork only after they rescued his dog speaks volumes about his character.


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