Man abandons dog on mountain, strangers hike up to rescue it

Dogs are known as man’s best friend.  But, when a dog was stranded high on a Colorado mountain, it was a group of men that came to the rescue.

“I guess my initial reaction was just kind of shock that there was a dog there,” Chase Lindell, rescuer, said.

There could not have been a tougher place for Missy the German Shepard to be found.

This photo started circulating on the internet of a dog found abandoned near Mt. Bierstadt, at 13,000 feet. The dog was injured too badly to walk. It turns out the dog had been there for eight days without food or water.

“Just the thought of a dog being left up there, I mean I figured it is worth a chance to try to go find it,”
 said Alex Gelb, who along with 6 others decided to try to find the dog they only knew from a photo.  

They weren’t even sure if the dog was even still alive because it had been eight days as they neared 13,000 feet there she was.

“The dog seemed really weak and it couldn’t move much at all,” said Lindell. “And given the terrain there was no way the dog was walking out of there.”

So, put Missy the dog into a backpack.

The rescue took nine hours and the conditions were anything but good.

“By the time we got close to the summit or on the summit it was a full blown snowstorm,” recalled Lindell.

 When they got Missy down off the mountain they took her to a veterinarian, where she is being treated for injuries to her paws and dehydration.

When word of the dog’s rescue got out, her owner Anthony Ortalani came forward. On the website 14ers.com there was a posting of “All I can say is that I am relieved that she is okay.”

He said he was hiking with the dog when her paws became injured, and with the storm approaching he said he tried to carry the dog down the mountain, but couldn’t so he left the dog behind and assumed she died.

Instead Missy survived and now he wants her back.  

“Absolutely not, absolutely not,” said Lindell.

The Clear Creek County Sheriff’s department is currently looking into who should keep the dog, an issue that may not be that simple.

“This may be an animal welfare case, more than it is an animal legal case or property case,” Jennifer Edwards Attorney, Founder of the Animal Law Center, said. “This is a case about an animal’s welfare and it may come down to what the best interests of what the dog’s standard would be.”

For those who rescued Missy they said they can’t understand why the dog’s owner didn’t go back up to get her.

“I mean eight days passed, I mean that’s a lot of time it’s kinda hard to get your head around,” said Gelb.  

The original photo that sparked the rescue was taken by a hiker who found Missy by couldn’t get her off the mountain by himself.

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