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JoAnna Lou
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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. 

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

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