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Abandoned Dog Rescued From Colorado Mountaintop

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The eight rescuers with Missy/Lucky at bottom of mountain range.

Lucky’s Owner Comes Forward

In response to all the activity on 14ers.com, the dog’s owner, Anthony Ortalani, came forward to explain why he left her on the mountain.  Ortalani was hiking with a friend’s teenage son on the Mount Bierstadt mountain range August 5.   This confirmed the dog had been left on the mountain — injured and with no food or water — for a week before being spotted by the Washburns.

Missy – Ortalani’s name for his dog – had cut her paws and would not walk down the range.  Ortalani claims he tried to carry her for two hours but could not safely get her moving.  Since a storm was coming in, he made the difficult decision to leave Missy there as he felt responsible to return the teenager safely to his family.  He said he “felt [it] was a survival situation.”

Once off the mountain, Ortalani says he called police to report Missy’s plight and ask for help in rescuing her, only to be told search and rescue (SAR) teams are not dispatched for animals. He convinced himself Missy couldn’t have survived and assumed she was dead.  When he became aware of the amazing rescue, he posted on 14ers.com. “I am the owner of the German Shepard girl found on Mt. Bierstadt,” said Ortalani.  “I am at a complete loss of words. My gratitude for the people involved in this is without measure.”

Ortalani goes on to describe how Missy became injured and how he tried to get her off the mountain.  “I dropped her once and I almost fell once too and I realized that I couldn’t carry her off of the mountain” wrote Ortalini.    “At this point I made the decision that I honestly never thought I would even be faced with. I left her there so that my friend and I could get down safely with intentions of calling S&R when we were off of the mountian [SIC].”

He gives further explanation:

I’ll admit that while trying to get off of the the mountain I was not as concerned because I was focused on making it safely off of the mountain, but once I was safely at my car I was overwhelmed with the loss, and the decision to leave her there. The next couple of days was absolutely horrible wondering about her, if she was alive, or if she died. Thinking about her suffering was awful beyond words. Many confidants comforted me by saying that she was probably gone from injury. All I can say is that I am relieved that she is okay, I am ashamed that it was not me that started this thread, 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 to all of you and to 9news. I humbly beg the forgiveness of the community and most of all my Missy Girl. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

An additional post shows a more contrite communication:

I am reading through all of these threads, and I am just in awe of how heroic and amazing everyone is that did this. I also see all of the anger and hatred towards me and the decision that I made. I feel that I deserve it all. I made it in a panic to be sure, and what I felt was a survival situation. I didn’t think to post on 14er’s.com to ask for everyone to come fix my colossal mistake in judgement. It is truly amazing that all of you did it on your own. I don’t have proper words. It was several days before I would have even been able to even think of walking back up Bierstadt much less into the sawtooth and to try and carry Missy out, and after that I just thought it would be to late. I honestly never thought that I could just ask strangers to go check the sawtooth and carry my 112lb German Shepard out. I don’t know what to say. Thank you again to the community, and to those who are angry I am so so sorry. Missy has done 6 14′ers and she loves being out there in the mountains. She depends on me to make smart choices, and taking her into the sawtooth was beyond foolish.

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271 comments

+ add your own
4:57PM PDT on Apr 16, 2014

Thank you

3:48AM PDT on Apr 9, 2014

Thank you

3:13PM PDT on Jul 7, 2013

Missy should recieve a happy new dog' s life!

3:37AM PDT on Jul 7, 2013

thank you for sharing 7/7

8:15AM PDT on Jun 28, 2013

sorry, but I would stay with my pets even if it meant demise for all of us. I would NOT leave them to fend for themselves. If my house were on fire, I would not leave it without my fur babies; just the way it is. This man does NOT deserve this dog, he left her for dead. Glad to see she is with someone that realizes what a precious life she is, and not leave her for dead on top of a mountain. Why even risk her or any animal by bringing them up there? Take her for a walk in the park, a field, not atop a mountain where everyone knows dangers exist.

4:11AM PDT on May 31, 2013

This is a tear jerker!!! As I read it the tears were streaming down my face!!! The thing to remember is she was rescued by strangers and is safe, no thanks to her owner!!!

4:36AM PDT on May 27, 2013

thank you for sharing

11:31PM PDT on May 21, 2013

I can say with ABSOLUTE certainty that I would rather die a horrible death than let one of my family die alone like that. And my animals are my family.

He should have gone back for her by himself, or with a few friends. He should have found her and then called the police and told them he broke his leg and couldn't get back. There are quite a few things this guy COULD have done.

No way he deserves to get that beautiful dog back.

2:04PM PDT on May 13, 2013

We need to teach children from a young age to be responsible for the lives of the animals they encounter and what to do (and NOT do) in a variety of situations and where to get help when they need it. I am thankful that Lucky is in the hands of someone who can truly care for him and I am so very grateful that the rescuers cared enough to risk their lives for another.

5:58PM PDT on May 3, 2013

Hit send too soon.

The "young boy" was actually 19 years old. He was an inexperienced hiker, but NOT a small child. Mr. Ortolani was totally unprepared for such a trek & had he done a bit more research, he would have realized that area is NOT dog or child friendly.

The court case was decided last fall & John, one of the rescuers adopted Missy.

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