What would you do if you were taking a day hike/climb with your dog and the weather turned bad? What if your dog was injured and couldn’t walk? How about if your dog was well over 100 pounds and couldn’t be carried down? What would you do?
If you think this scenario sounds unlikely, think again. in 2012, a 29 year old man was hiking up a mountain in Colorado with his 19 year-old friend and his dog. His pooch, a 112 pound, 5-year-old German shepherd and Rottweiler mix, became injured due to the rocky trail and was unable to walk. The guys tried to carry it for a bit, but the weather turned and soon they had to make a choice whether to save themselves or risk their lives saving the dog. The dog was sadly abandoned on the mountain, left for dead as it was unable to move. The hikers returned to their car hours later, saddened by the loss of the pet, calling the local sheriffs department to let them know a canine was stuck at 13,500 feet. The response from the department was logical, but sad. Search and rescue, as per policy, was not to attempt a rescue of an animal. The owner decided that if it was too dangerous for trained professionals, it was too risky to try and get back up there. The storm raged on that evening, and hope for the pooch was lost. The owner decided not too put up fliers or contact other hikers, instead returning home without his best friend.
6 days later, a husband and wife hiking duo was near the summit of the Mount Bierstadt in Colorado when the wife heard crying and discovered a dog, injured and bloody, hiding between the rocky crags near the trail. They patched up the cuts on the dog’s paws with a first aid kid and attempted to carry it down. They were unable to move it far without endangering themselves, so they quickly went down the mountain, contact hikers via Facebook and within 9 hours, a team of 10 was on their way up to rescue the dog. After hours of carry the dog down the rough trail, they soon emerged victorious and posed for a picture with the rescued pooch. After a quick trip to the vet, where besides a few cuts and bruises and severe dehydration, the dog was deemed to be in good health with no serious, long lasting problems.
The story should end with the owner getting his dog back in a tail-wagging, tear jerking scene, but instead it ends with a custody battle. The couple who found the dog reported it to the authorities. Thanks to strict laws for doggy rights in the US, the man who abandoned his dog was nearly charged with animal cruelty and has been forced to give up his dog for adoption. The dog was quickly adopted by one of the volunteers and will, I am sure, be spoiled.
Many of us take our dogs hiking, knowing full well that conditions can turn bad very fast. If you were forced to leave your dog behind, would you do it? Could you do it? Would it be fair to be charged with animal cruelty if you did abandon it?
Hopefully, this isn’t something any of us have to experience, but it is food for thought. What would you have done?
Photo Credits: ABC NEWS