A battle over an abandoned dog is brewing after a married couple found a German Shepherd atop a Colorado mountain. According to the Daily Mail, Missy the dog had been left there by her owner when an oncoming storm forced him to abandon her.
Her owner, Anthony Orotlani, said he did not want to leave her, but had to make a choice to stay with her and die or go down the mountain without her.
Missy was 13,000 feet up the mountain when Scott Washburn and his wife Amanda found her and called a search and rescue party to save her. She was wounded and nearly dead, sitting on top of bloodied rocks. The dog had apparently gone without any food or water for eight days.
After posting a photo of Missy onto 14ers.com, a social network for mountain climbers, dozens wanted to help. Eight people showed up to rescue Missy, which took nearly nine hours. They came just before a snowstorm was about to hit and quickly placed her in a large backpack -- she was unable to walk due to her injured paws.
The rescue team took her to a veterinarian who was surprised to find no fractures, internal injuries, or permanent damage. Washburn said "her survival and shear will to live are astounding by any measure."
Following such a heroic and emotional rescue, as you can imagine, the Washburns grew attached and protective over Missy. They planned on keeping her, until her owner found out about the incredible ordeal.
Ortolani was reportedly upset and embarrassed that he hadn't came to her rescue, but thanked those who rescued her on 14ers.com. He also asked for the name of the clinic where Missy was being treated so he could take her back and reimburse them.
It didn't go so smoothly. Orotlani was attacked on the site by people who were angered by his abandonment of Missy. He explained to them: "Missy was hurt during an attempt at crossing the Sawtooth. It was Missy, a friend, and I. Eventually, she just stopped standing or moving at all and I knew she was pretty badly hurt."
He said he tried to pick her up and carry her on his shoulders, but she wouldn't stay on. After leaving her on the mountain, he called 911, the sheriff's office, and search and rescue, but all said the weather made it too risky for rescuing her. Orotlani claims he was forced to convince himself that she had died so he could move past the death.
"All I can say is that I am relieved that she is okay," he said on the message board. "I am ashamed that it wasn't me who got her off of the mountain, I underestimated the good will and resolve of the hiking community of Colorado, and I am eternally grateful."
But getting Missy back won't be that easy. The Washburns think Orotlani is an "unfit dog-owner" and that she would have a better life with them. They don't understand why Orotlani didn't return for her if he was so upset.
"My wife and I had to abandon her as well. 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," Mr. Washburn said. "Despite being forced to abandon her, we came back for her."
Who will get Missy is yet to be decided. First, the Clear Creek County Sheriff's Office must investigate the case to decide whether or not the incident is considered animal cruelty.