JoAnna Lou
Print|Email|Text Size: ||
Custody Over Abandoned Pup
Hiker wants dog back after leaving her behind to die

Earlier this month, Scott and Amanda Washburn were in Colorado hiking 13,500 feet above sea level when they found an injured German Shepherd. They tried to coax the poor pup out of the nook she was in, but her paws were completely raw and she was too weak to move. Unfortunately the injured dog weighed 100 pounds and was too heavy to carry down the mountain. So the Washburns used their first aid kit to patch up as many wounds as they could and left the dog with water until they could return.

Forest Rangers are only able to send out search parties for people, so the couple turned to the internet to find help. Two days later, Scott and eight volunteers returned to Mount Bierstadt and began a 9-hour rescue mission that included hiking through a full-blown snowstorm. Fortunately they got to the German Shepherd just in time. The bandaged wounds had reopened and there was blood all over nearby rocks.

Dubbed “the miracle dog of the century” by her veterinarian, the lucky pup is going to make a full recovery. Scott and Amanda were so enamored that they decided to adopt the brave German Shepherd.

But believe it or not, the Washburns are now involved in a custody battle with the man who abandoned the dog on the mountain.

Turns out the pup’s name is Missy and she was left behind by Anthony Ortolani when a storm hit the mountain. Three days later, Anthony assumed Missy died and made no attempt to rescue her.

This story makes me so upset on so many levels (besides the part about the amazing rescuers). First off, no one should bring their dog hiking on a 14,000+ foot mountain unless they’re sure that their pup is accustomed to the terrain. Second, anyone hiking long distances should monitor their pup carefully for signs of pad wear or other injuries. Missy’s paws should never have gotten that raw.

That being said, I understand these things can creep up to the best of us.  But not going back up the mountain? Unacceptable.

The Sherrif’s Office says that the custody decision could take months and, for now, Missy remains at the veterinarian. I hope that Missy doesn’t stay in limbo for too long and that her rescuers are able to give her a permanent loving home. 

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.
CommentsPost a Comment
Please note comments are moderated. After being approved your comment will appear below.
Submitted by Robin | August 30 2012 |

IMO, there comes a point when you relinguish your rights of ownership. I believe that the original owner clearly did that when he deemed the dog dead and made no attempt at rescue based upon his assumption. I hope the dog does not stay in limbo for long as he needs to be with his new owners who fought for his life.

Submitted by Valerie Arnett | August 30 2012 |

Finders, keepers. The dog was abandoned to her fate. The owner had no plan to help her. Sure, he felt bad about the situation, but not bad enough to do anything constructive.I suspect his life is totally about "him." you know, "his" feelings, "his" pain etc. He probably doesn't really understand that he is at fault. All that being said, he lost his right to the dog.
I hope Missy gets to enjoy a happy life with the people who rescued her.

Submitted by Sharlene | August 31 2012 |

The pup was saved by loving, caring people and still needs their care and love. The decision should not be about the "law" and who "owns" her, it should be about what is good for Missy. Does she need to be fought over by one uncaring human who did not have her great interest in mind, or does she need a forever home where her needs are tended to and her desires known? I think she needs a loving family, not a long, drawn-out court procedure. Give her the break, not the guy that left her to die.

Submitted by Anonymous | August 31 2012 |

The owner of this dog "relinquished custody" when he abandoned it on the mountain. Not only should he not get the dog back; but he should be punished. I hope the dog gets to live with its rescuers for a long and happy life.

Submitted by Anonymous | September 1 2012 |

Thank you to the first two commenters - I could not have said it better myself. Missy belongs with th couple who saved her.

Submitted by Karen | September 3 2012 |

In my county, dogs are available for adoption after 4 days of not being claimed. The two local shelters must hold the dogs that long. After that, they can be adopted. I would bet the area that dog was in has a similar law. I don't understand why there is any question - Ortolani shouldn't have any pets. He is unfit.

More From The Bark

More in JoAnna Lou:
Latest Shock Collar Research
OSU's Full Time Pet Therapy Program
Canine Hero Returns to Ground Zero
Dogs Prefer Petting Over Praise
Microchip Brings Dog Home Eight Years Later
Canine Curriculum for Kids
Jealousy in Dogs
Shelter Pets at the Emmys
Making Tumors Glow
3-D Printed Dog Cart