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Man who left his dog on fourteener will give her up
The owner of a dog rescued from a Colorado fourteener last month after he had to abandon her to help a friend down the mountain has agreed to give the 5-year-old pooch to one of her rescuers.
Anthony Ortolani, 31, faced charges of animal cruelty for leaving his German shepherd/rotweiller mix, Missy, on the saddle between Mount Bierstadt and Mount Evans.
He will plead guilty to a less serious violation of a Clear Creek County ordinance, said his lawyer, Jennifer Edwards, founder and attorney with The Animal Law Center.
Missy was stranded for eight days before rescuers found her bloodied and close to death on the ridge.
Ortolani received death threats after the story broke, he said Sunday. The threats have made him concerned for his family, and for Missy as well, he said.
Discussions leading to the plea bargain included talk of him giving the dog up, said Edwards, but are not the reason for his surrendering the animal.
"I don't want to give her up, I love her, but those people risked life and limb to get her out of there and that has got to be worth something," he said.
Ortolani is an experienced climber who has submitted seven of the state's fourteeners, and Missy accompanied him on six of those climbs, he said.
Ortolani was climbing with the 19-year-old son of a friend.
Bad weather was moving in, and the canine, whose feet were blistered and bleeding, was unable to walk.
When his climbing companion's water supply broke, Ortolani decided it was time to come down. The two men tried to carry the 112-pound dog over the rocks for two hours. "Lifting and carrying her over that type of terrain is exhausting," he said.
He decided to leave her there and help his partner down, he added.
Ortolani called a friend who contacted the Clear Creek County Sheriff's Office and asked if a search and rescue party could get to the dog. The friend was told that the region was too dangerous and search and rescue doesn't rescue animals.
Edwards said mountain communities should make some provisions for rescuing stranded pets. "We would hope that there be some sort of process in place to assist animal owners who choose to take their beloved pets up into the mountains," she said.