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Anthony Ortolani faces petition against getting back dog he left on a mountain

Big photos below.
Big photos below.

Accusations of animal cruelty tend to inflame passions -- and that's certainly true in the case of Anthony Ortolani and his German Shepherd, Missy.

Ortolani reportedly left an injured Missy on a mountain but now wants the dog back -- a prospect that's inspired Facebook criticism and a petition trying to block this effort.

According to a story Ortolani posted on 14ers.com as synopsized by 9News, he was hiking with Missy on Mount Bierstadt in late July when her paws became too sore to continue walking. He tried to carry the dog the rest of the way down the mountain, he maintains, but because they were at approximately the 13,000 foot mark and a storm was approaching, he eventually had no choice but to leave her behind.

A photo of Ortolani cuddling with Missy.
A photo of Ortolani cuddling with Missy.

He subsequently contacted a search-and-rescue group and the local sheriff's department, he claims, but was told such an effort on behalf of a dog wasn't feasible. As a result, Missy had been on the mountain for more than a week when she was finally spotted by hikers. After the latter posted a photo of Missy, members of a rescue group banded together and were able to find and save the dog, who's said to be recovering from dehydration, as well as cuts on all four of her legs.

Despite Ortolani's version, the Clear Creek Sheriff's Office has announced that he'll face animal cruelty charges. And his desire to get Missy back has resulted in a fiery online backlash.

Continue reading for more information.

Take this conversation on the Life With Dogs Facebook page, which has gathered nearly 400 comments at this writing. Examples:

That useless piece of humanity had the gall to ask for her back after he abandoned her and she was rescued over a week later??? I think I'd abandon him with no shoes, no food, no water (leave him some snow? yellow maybe?)

Thank God the rescue team. I know Missy will now get the love and loyalty she deserves.

Exactly what should happen to this person - he simply thought the poor dog would die/no one would find the dog and he would be home free. I hope they throw the book at him.

The photo of Missy and the rescue team that accompanies the Change.org petition.
The photo of Missy and the rescue team that accompanies the Change.org petition.

Meanwhile, a Change.org petition has been launched under the title "Clear Creek County Sheriff's Office: Please do not allow Anthony Ortolani to reclaim Missy, German Shepherd." Here's the intro, which features a link to a story about Missy featured on Good Morning America.

Please read the attached article. Missy was left by her owner due to a storm in very tough terrain without food, water or shelter. She was injured and could not walk to safety. He made no attempt to organize any rescue group and made no attempt to go back for her to save her. A couple hiking in the area found her and worked very hard to save her. They did everything they could to save Missy, a dog they did not know. She was very close to death when they found her. She is recovering now but Mr. Ortolani wants his dog back. The couple who saved her, along with others, have expressed interest in adopting her. I am not suggesting that Mr. Ortolani is a bad person but simply that he did not step up to the plate when his dog needed him. Please sign this petition so Missy can go to her new home with the couple who loved her enough to save her.

At this writing, the petition has 128 signatures toward a goal of 200. Ortolani is next due in court on October 16.

Here's the 9News story about Ortolani and Missy.

More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Corey Haveman skips sentencing after guilty plea for starving Irish Setter to death."