A man brought his German Shepherd dog on a mountain climb in Colorado, at 13,500 feet and in terrain unfit for a dog. Reportedly, the weather turned bad during the trip and he decided to turn back due to a younger person hiking with him. The dog’s feet by then were so cut up and bleeding from sharp rocks that she could no longer walk. So he left the dog there. After three days, reportedly, he assumed the dog must have died, and took no further action.
However, the dog had not died. A couple hiking on the mountain had found her, whimpering and bleeding from many cuts, cowering between some rocks. Unable to carry the 100 pound dog themselves, they left it with water and went back down the mountain, seeking help. Forest rangers said they could not help, not being authorized to perform rescue missions for animals. However, with telephone calls and online appeals, a group of eight volunteers was gathered, and they hiked through a snowstorm to reach the dog, who was still alive. The dog was carried down and taken to a vet, who treated her and said that she would recover. She had been on the mountain a total of nine days. Her name was found, “Missy,” and her owner also, the 29 year-old man who had brought her up the mountain and left her there.
The couple who originally found Missy have said they would like to adopt her, as would some of the other rescuers, but the owner has said he wants her back. The local sheriff’s department is investigating the question of whether that owner is actually guilty of cruelty towards the animal, considering the chain of events.
If nothing else, it’s a particularly extreme example of human beings mistakenly assuming that a dog can safely engage in the same recreation and/or exercise that they choose to engage in. It ain’t necessarily so.
Addendum 08/18/2012: It’s now reported that owner has been charged by local authorities with animal cruelty.
Addendum 09/17/2012: As part of a plea bargain down to a lesser offense, the dog’s original owner has now agreed to relinquish his ownership, and Missy is being adopted by one of her rescuers. This seems like a just ending to yours truly. It’s not just the abandonment of the dog, and failing to even attempt any rescue later, but the poor judgment in bringing the dog on the climb at all, and especially in not ending the trip and turning back when the dog’s feet began to get cut and injured by the sharp rocks in the first place. That, after all, is what led to the whole sad mess … which thankfully did not end end in tragedy for dog or human, but in an admirable act of courage and generosity by those who rescued Missy.