Owner Gives Up Dog Stranded In Mountains

Shelley Mamott, Staff Writer

Last month, 31 year old, Anthony Ortolani made the difficult decision to abandon his 5-year-old German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix, Missy, while hiking on one of Colorado’s tallest mountains.

On August 3, Ortolani was hiking on Mount Bierstadt with his friend’s 19-year-old son when bad weather started to move in. Missy’s feet had become blistered and she was unable to walk. The two men tried to carry the 112-pound dog for over two hours before deciding to leave her on the mountain to make it to safety.

Missy being carried by one of the rescuers

Once Ortolani made it down the mountain, he called the County Sheriff’s office, but was told it was too dangerous for an animal rescue. Missy survived 8 days alone on the mountain before being rescued by a group of volunteer rescuers.

The rescue operation was made possible thanks to Scott Washburn and his wife Amanda. They found Missy on August 11, severely dehydrated and in bad shape. They could not carry her down, so they bandaged her paws and left her with water before organizing a group of experienced hikers to bring her down to safety.

Ortolani was charged with animal cruelty but will plead guilty to a lesser charge. Giving Missy up was discussed as part of the plea bargain, but was not the reason for Ortolani’s decision, according to his attorney. Ortalani has agreed to give Missy to one of the rescuers, the exact one was not made public.

Ortaloni said, “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.”

by Shelley Mamott

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38 thoughts on “Owner Gives Up Dog Stranded In Mountains

  1. beth says:

    I would rather die than abandon my dog. What kind of irresponsible owner would take their dog up a dangerous mountain, anyway? He doesn’t deserve her… I’m glad she was rescued – heartwarming :)

    • Sean Delevan says:

      Hi Beth,

      I teach a parenting group, as well as counseling classes to both children and adults. I am also the owner of 4 dogs and 2 cats, as well as feeding 6 stray cats outside of my house.

      The first thing that I teach in the parenting group is the following:

      If you are in an airplane with an infant on your lap and the plane hits turbulence and the oxygen masks fall down from the overhead bin but there is only one, whose mouth do you put it over?

      Do you put it on the baby or you?

      Most parents would say the baby.

      But what good is it to the baby if the parent is unconscious?

      If these people did not leave this dog, everyone would probably be dead at this point.

      There would be no rescue that took place.

      While I could not imagine leaving my dog in any situation, I cannot sit here and judge anyone.

      Honestly, we were not there. They tried to carry the dog and they couldn’t.

      They did get help and the dog was saved.

      Why not simply thank God that everyone turned out ok?

      • k says:

        The dog should never have been on the mountain to begin with. Poor dog, blistered feet, left alone to die. The guy was an irresponsible owner for taking him along. Would he have taken his baby! Some people, just don’t think.

    • k says:

      You are absolutely right – what kind of person would take a dog on a hike through the mountains. I was so glad he lived and someone else will get to adopt him. Thank goodness for people like Scott & Amanda Washburn for rescuing the poor dog. Where was his idiot of an owner while they were doing the right thing. He should never be allowed to own an animal again.

  2. Kljw says:

    At first I was confused, since the opening paragraph made it seem like he went there to abandon her in the first place. After reading the article, it became apparent that no, that wasn’t the case, he left because it was too dangerous to stay. He even tried to get the authorities involved to rescue his dog. Why was he charged with animal cruelty? A lot of people would rather die than abandon their dog, even in such circumstances, but not everyone is that brave. Is that a crime? No.

    • Craig Kaminsky says:

      I live in Colorado and have 3 dogs. I have climbed Bierstadt several times. I, and many fellow Coloradans, have two issues with what Ortolani did:

      1. You do NOT go up a 14er (a 14,000″+ mountain) without (a) provisions for a couple of days and (b) shelter (i.e., a tent or sleeping bag or something). These are the Rockies and they must be respected. The weather/conditions can change, literally, in seconds and you simply do not go up a mountain without being prepared for something bad to happen.
      2. I was not fully upset that Ortolani had to leave Missy (I would never have done that but I have been on that exact mountain when lightening started moving in and it’s pretty darn scary). I was PISSED that he did not go back the next day to get her. That’s where I think the cruelty comes into play. He left her to die (and saying he assumed she was dead doesn’t fly with me … I’d have still gone back to get her body if that was the case). Not going back the next day to search for her was despicable.

  3. Sab says:

    I would rather have laid there and died with my dog. And if this Anthony coward wanted his dog back, why would he take action after EIGHT days? Idiocy and cruelty on his part. What a horrible person. I hope the rescuers get custody.

  4. Lawrence says:

    Anthony is an idiot and deserves the animal cruelty charge and anyone else who doesn’t get it, like KLJW, are idiots too. What if it was a 112lb child who could not continue? How could you rationalize this? Anthony is a coward who just gave up on this dog and didn’t have the sense to think about acting with urgency to save her. If I decided to bring my dog, who didn’t ask to come on the hike, I would understand my responsibility to take care of him no matter what. “Not everyone is brave” is such a stupid excuse so shame on you, Kljw. You’re right, not everyone is brave, like Ortolani or you, but everyone can be proactive in take precautions to ensure the safety of those around them, including animals, when engaging in a potentially dangerous excursion. Thank God for the heroism of Missy’s rescuers and Missy, herself, for her strength in survival.

    • kim says:

      I couldn’t agree more. A the first sign that a partner human, K-9or other you stop evaluate and the right thing would have been to turn around. This guy is an idiot. He ought to have received harsher punishment.

    • KarenS says:

      I agree – the dog should have never been taken up on that mountain and the idiot owner was totally unprepared for the likelihood of problems. He put his dog at risk, abandoned her, and the fact that he did not make every effort to return the following day to get her off the mountain with helpers is unconscionable. The dog deserves better and the rescuer deserves the dog and will assuredly take far better care of her. The man who left her deservedly is due serious legal ramifications of his stupidity and cowardly behavior.

  5. Rachael P says:

    Like most of you, I would die before I’d abandon one of my dogs. When I adopted them I promised I’d take care of them, always and forever. No exceptions.

  6. Cath says:

    I agree with Kim. At the first sign of my dog’s discomfort, I would have turned back and attempted it another time without him. Actually I don’t think I would have taken him on such a trip in the first place.

  7. Ali says:

    I could never ever leave my dog there I would rather die with him than see those eyes watch me walk away. he should never have had the dog with him in the first place, idiot

  8. Mary says:

    Anthony Ortoloni should never be allowed to own another dog again, or any other creature that would be dependant on him.
    Missy should be protected FROM him at any cost.
    Shame on you Anthony; try being abandoned without any help on a mountain without food, water, shelter or help. You are pathetic.

  9. Kelly says:

    This never would have happened if the original owner had NOT taken Missy up the mountai in the first place. Good GAWD if YOU need special boots, ropes and climing gear to get up and down the mountain, HOW THE HECK CAN THE DOG MAKE IT !?!?! Nope the man that found her and brought her back down the mountain obviously has better judgement than her previous owner. I say the new canine guardian gets to keep her in his LOVING care!

  10. Peter says:

    It’s easy to be judgmental, to wag your finger at this guy, condemn his decision to leave the dog. To those of you saying he should not have taken the dog in the first place, baloney. I take my dog hiking, camping, and to all the other fun stuff I do. I’m going to deprive my dog the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors? That’s just silly. And to those calling him irresponsible for abandoning his dog, you may have given your to save your dog, but that is a personal decision. Nobody is obligated to give their life for anyone or anything.

  11. Bella says:

    Are you kidding me? I weigh the same as that dog, would they have left me up there to die too? What if it was a child? Damn at least a human can understand what’s going on and that help will be coming, the dog had no idea why it was being abandoned. How awful.

  12. Linda W says:

    I really hope this jerk was not allowed to have the dog back. The jerk doesn’t deserve to have an animal and no animal deserves to be stuck with him or his friend. They should have turned back and taken the dog home. The dog shouldn’t have been on the trip in the first place. God Bless the people that rescued the dog. I hope this idiot and his friend went to jail. He shouldn’t have been allowed to plead to a lesser charge, he should actually be stranded on the highest mountain with NOTHING like he left his dog.

  13. Vanessa says:

    The fact that this dog was forced to walk until the point of blisters enrages me. I can’t even respond to anything written after that sentence without swearing and wishing horrible things upon the former idiot owner and that’s not good for my karma. Thank God for the Washburns and the experienced hikers who saved this poor baby. I would agree to forgo the animal cruelty charge provided that idiot be marched up a mountain until his feet were blistered and left for 8 days. You know your dog would never “rehome” you, mistreat you or leave you in any circumstance.

  14. Tracy Weaver says:

    I agree with Beth. Why WHY would you take the dog up there TO BEGIN WITH? Answer is simple, HE SHOULDN’T HAVE! Then none of this would have happened at all. I’m sure someone could have watched Missy while ge went climbing the mountain!

  15. Tracy Weaver says:

    I agree Melissa and to most others on here. Missy shouldn’t have been there to begin with! That dog wasn’t “hiking” or having a fun time! Missy was NOT having fun with blisters on her feet. How can PETER say for us not to be judgemental? You are also an idiot Peter!

  16. Alvin says:

    @Sean Delevan – You’re right; “if these people did not leave this dog, everyone would probably be dead at this point”. Many people would take their German Shepherd on a hike. Hikers get lost and get caught in bad weather. People who are not accustomed to hiking often don’t know what to bring or what kind of trouble they might get into. This guy made mistakes at the outset, and his day hike was a disaster. The same thing happens to a lot of people. He was ignorant about hiking, but not cruel.

    The dog’s owner had a young man to think about. The two of them tried to carry the dog out but couldn’t. The owner went to the sheriff as soon as he got to safety. If the sheriff thought a rescue was too dangerous, it is not likely that the owner could rescue the dog. I’m not sure why he decided to give up his dog, but it sounds like a good outcome for everyone. Maybe he can get a less energetic dog and stick to walking trails!

  17. Maggie says:

    Why did he not return to find his dog. I have two dogs – they are my life – they give unconditional love. I could no more abandon them on a mountain than absolutely anything else. If his story is true, he should have been returning to find his dog as quickly as he could. Please do NOT return this dog to the owner. There will be thousands in the area that will give this dog a much better home. God bless the rescuers.

  18. Ellie says:

    Totally selfish horrible man I would like to see him left eight days on a mountain with no shelter food and water see how he liked it. I am so glad the dog will be given to a rescuer she will at last have an owner worthy of her love.

  19. mydogroo says:

    Stupid, selfish, heartless man doesn’t deserve a dog. Total stupidity to even bring the dog to the mountain and then to leave her??!! Inexcusable behavior. I’m glad he is being punished. Thank God for the rescuers. I would never have brought my dog to a place like that and I would have never left her side. I hope Missy’s life will be long and happy with her new owners.

  20. Aimee says:

    Why did he bring his dog on such a grueling hike to begin with to only abandon her!! That breaks my heart! The dog feeling a sense of abandonment by her owner and then pain and hunger, cold tempertures and dehydration!! If it were reversed .. That dog would have died by her owner. That is the difference between dog and man!

  21. Bijou says:

    After reading the article and the comments I don’t accept the excuse that two hikers, both adult males in good enough health to hike up the mountain, were physically incapable of carrying the injured dog to safety. I’m thrilled that Missy now lives with one of her rescuers as it seems painfully obvious that Anthony Ortolani does not deserve to ever be responsible for any other living being.

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