DENVER - A man is being prosecuted for abandoning his dog on one of Colorado's fourteeners.
The Clear Creek Sheriff's Office announced Friday that a criminal charge of cruelty to animals has been filed against Anthony Joseph Ortolani, 29.
He has said he left his German Shepherd named Missy on 14,065-foot Mount Bierstadt when a storm moved in on August 5. He said he had to get a young hiker to safety and said the dog couldn't walk because her feet were cut up from rocks.
The dog was found more than a week later by Scott Washburn and his wife, Amanda, as they climbed the mountain. He said Missy was too heavy for them to carry out and still couldn't walk.
"My wife broke down crying at the thought of leaving the dog to die," said Washburn.
He posted a message about the dog's plight on 14ers.com, an online discussion board dedicated to climbing mountains over 14,000 feet. From that discussion, Washburn got together a group of eight volunteers and the group headed back up the mountain on Monday morning.
They found the dog and carried her out in a backpack during a nine-hour rescue operation, eight days after she had been abandoned.
The dog was taken to a vet to be checked out and is recovering from dehydration and cut paws.
Ortolani found out about the rescue effort and asked for his dog back but Clear Creek Animal Control said it was investigating the case.
Washburn and his wife, as well as other members of the rescue team, would now like to adopt Missy, Washburn said.
"I just don't think that his actions have shown that he is a responsible dog owner," Washburn said. "We understand that he had to leave her there. My wife and I did the same thing. But we ended up going back for her, and we went to some pretty extreme lengths to do so. In my opinion, that is not a responsible dog owner, who doesn't really care about her."