(CBS/AP) A hiker who abandoned his injured five-year-old German shepard/Rottweiler on a Colorado mountain last month spoke out after receiving death threats for his action, CBS affiliate KCNC Denver reported Sunday.
Anthony Ortolani of Westminster said that he accepts responsibility for taking his 112-pound dog Missy on the trip that turned out arduous for her. The hiker said that the dog's paws began to bleed in the saddle area between Mount Bierstadt and Mount Evans, said KCNC. Ortolani said he tried to carry the injured animal for two hours; his feet were hurt too.
Faced with approaching bad weather and lack of water, Ortolani abandoned Missy.
"Carrying her down, unfortunately caused her more injury. She fought with me and squirmed off my shoulders, and I dropped her on some rocks and she got hurt worse," Ortolani said.
Hikers found the dog days later and organized a volunteer recovery effort, bringing Missy down from Mount Bierstadt after an eight-day ordeal.
"Everybody says 'Why didn't you go back?' My physical condition was significantly deteriorated, my emotional condition was no good. I thought she was dead," said Ortolani.
After Ortolani learned of the rescue, he asked for his dog back. But Clear Creek County authorities conducted an investigation and charged him with animal cruelty.
His lawyer, Jennifer Edwards, said her client hopes to make a plea deal.
Ortolani said that he paid approximately $5,000 in veterineary and boarding expenses. He says now that he would prefer one of the rescuers adopting Missy rather than her ending up in a shelter where she is held at the moment.
The decision to give up custody of Missy was part of a possible plea bargain.