Missy on the Mountaintop: The Rest of the Story
Back in August I posted a blog about Missy, the beautiful German Shepherd dog who was left on a Colorado mountaintop when her paws were too cut up by rocks to walk down with her owner, Anthony Ortolani. As you may recall, he did not return for her and gave her up for dead. Eight long, cold days later Missy was rescued after a couple of hikers found her on the mountaintop and enlisted help from a climbing group — who carried the 112-lb dog down the mountain in a backpack. One of her rescuers has since written a gripping, first-person account of her rescue; I highly recommend it.
I wrote the first blog about Missy after hearing that her original owner had tried to take her away from her rescuers, one of whom wanted to adopt her. The story had gone viral on the news and the web, and much uproar ensued –with many people apparently feeling that hell should freeze over before he’d be allowed to have Missy back.
Now, given the intensity of initial responses to Missy’s story, I thought I should let you know what has happened since then.
First, Ortolani entered a guilty plea for cruelty to animals last October and was finally sentenced earlier this week to a year of unsupervised probation and 30 hours of community service. I hope he does the community service at an animal shelter, and I wish the components of the sentence could be reversed — a year of community service and 30 hours of probation.
Second, after a long court battle, one of Missy’s rescuers, John Steed, was allowed to adopt her as one of the provisions of Ortolani’s plea deal. She has since been renamed “Lucky,” and she lives happily with John and two canine siblings.
Third, public education about compassion toward animals and hiking with dogs took a huge leap forward when Ellen DeGeneres hosted Missy’s team of eight rescuers on her show in September.
Fourth, Missy received a lifetime membership in 14ers.com, which is the climbing group that arranged for her rescue; check out her shirt in the photo below. And her rescuers received the The Circle of Compassion Award from the US Humane Society. Well deserved! I believe that the way we treat our companion animals says a lot about us as humans, and we all stand just a bit taller on account of Missy’s rescuers.
Finally, Missy’s rescuers have formed a new search and rescue organization called The Brothers of Lucky Search and Rescue (BOLSAR for short). BOLSAR is dedicated to high alpine canine search and rescue in the Colorado Rocky Mountain region. Learn more and help them if you can: check out their website and Facebook page.
Missy’s story draws attention to the responsibility that we assume every time we leash up our dogs and head down hiking trails. In exchange for their love, companionship, and protection, we owe it to our dogs to plan for their needs on the trail. We should be sure that they are ready for the terrain — which was apparently an issue in Missy’s case, as the trail was rocky and cut up her paws. And, when stuffing our own backpacks for a hiking adventure, we should also be sure to gather the components needed for our dogs. American Hiking Society has lists of 10 Essentials of Hiking for both humans and dogs. Check out the lists so that you can always go prepared on outdoor adventures – and take good care of your human and furry hiking friends.