animal cruelty

What I Really Think


I spent last week with friends at Mammoth Lakes on the eastern side of the California Sierra mountains. While they were on daily hikes, I stayed at the cabin and worked on rewriting one of my many unpublished novels. (If nothing I’m an optimist.)
        My friend, Teresa, is Max’s mom. I’m his aunt. Max is the 14 year old black lab mix she adopted as a puppy from our local Humane Society—where he was one of a litter of 11 abandoned by their owner. We call him Max the Mountain dog because next to swimming he loves hiking. Swimming in a mountain lake is the best of both worlds.
        It was while Teresa, Max, and our two other friends were off hiking a 12,000 foot peak that I heard about the Anthony Joseph Ortolani, who abandoned his four-year-old German Shepard, Missy, at 14,000 feet on a mountain in Colorado. According to the statement he made, a storm was approaching, raising concerns for his own safety and the safety of his teen-aged hiking partner. Since his dog's paws were too injured to make it back down the mountain, he left her. Once off the mountain, he did call for help, but was told they didn’t do animal rescues, and since he needed to get back to work, he wrote her off.
       Mr. Ortolani is being charged with animal cruelty. When he has his day in court, I hope someone asks the first question that occurred to me: at what altitude did this fool realize his dog’s paws were cut and bleeding? When did he first notice she was limping—9,000 ft, 10,000 ft? At what point, before reaching his goal, were there indications that she was having trouble. And how exactly did Missy manage to get to 14,000 feet but no further? And what idiot climbs a 14,000 ft. mountain without checking the weather, as my friends did every morning before setting out.
        Eight days after Anthony Joseph Ortolani was safely, snugly back home, a pair of hikers found Missy. They managed to do what Mr. Ortolani never attempted beyond his initial call for help, they organized a successful rescue attempt and brought the dehydrated, starving Missy off the mountain.
        I tried to imagine under what circumstances Teresa would have abandoned Max. Then I tried to imagine Max leaving Teresa. Never would either of them abandon the other. What breaks my heart is the picture in my head of Missy, day after day, watching the spot where she last saw Anthony Ortolani and continuing to trust--until she was nearly dead--that the person she loved would come back for her.
        Mr. Ortolani has apologized and wants Missy back. The guy who took NO for an answer and left his dog to die of thirst on a 14000 ft mountain, needs to take NO for an answer again. He may have had a legitimate reason for leaving her there, but there is no excuse on earth for deserting her.
       Dogs are full of all the attributes we credit to a higher power: love, devotion, trust, forgiveness. I'm sure Missy would forgive him. Which makes her more humane than Anthony Joseph Ortolani will ever be.
Bringing Missy down the mountain

"People always joke that ‘dog’ spells ‘god’ backwards. They should consider that this might it be the higher power coming down to see just how well they do, what kind of people they are. The animals are right here . . . in front of us. And how we treat these companions is a test." Linda Blair

It just so happens there is a bill before the California state senate. SB 1500 by Senator Ted Lieu re: Seized and Abandoned Animals. Support.
   Amends procedures in the process of dealing with seized/abandoned animals to be sure the “owner” can properly care for the animal and pay the costs of being held at the animal control shelter.
   Hearing: Governor Jerry Brown.
   Write: Tell him abused/abandoned animals should not be returned to their “owners” but, if so, they must pay for their care in the animal shelters and assure the animals’ well being.
 Governor Jerry Brown and Legislators: State Capitol Building, Sacramento, CA 95814

Max enjoying a roll in the snow

Max hiking with his mom

When he's not a mountain dog, he's a water dog.

Max and Teresa last week at Virginia Lake Pass
about 12,000 feet

 If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans. James Herriot