A custody battle is brewing after a group of hikers rescued a dog from a mountain after her alleged owner says he was forced to choose between her, and his safety.
Eight hikers climbed Mount Bierstadt to Mount Evans in Colorado to make what is being hailed as a miracle save, after a severely injured German shepherd was spotted and tended to by a concerned couple, Examiner.com reports.
The abandoned 100-pound canine was found by Amanda and Scott Washburn and is expected to make a full recovery despite going eight days without food or water.
The couple first tried to coax the dog, they began calling "Lucky," down the mountain with them, but it became apparent she couldn't due to her severe injuries. The couple administered first aid to the dog's bloody paws, gave her water and left to find help, the Examiner.com reports.
They posted a photo of the dog to the hiking forum, 14ers.com, and asked for help. The response was immediate and a group of eight set out to make the rescue.
In a post about the mission dated August 14, the Washburns confirmed that the rescue had been successful.
The rescue took about nine-hours and the hikers had secured the dog in a backpack to bring her down, Examiner.com reports.
Soon after, a man claiming to be Anthony Ortolani wrote a post on the forum claiming to be the dog's rightful owner. He asked for the name of the clinic that his dog, "Missy" was at so he could reimburse them and bring the dog home.
According to the post Ortolani says he was climbing with a friend when "Missy" injured her paws and the weather began to turn. When he realized he couldn’t carry her off of the mountain he left her with the intention of calling for help when he got off the mountain.
The post says that when Ortolani called 911, the sheriff's office said it would be too risky to send a rescue up for a dog. "I am ashamed that it wasn't me who got her off the mountain," the post says.
The post garnered a varied response, with some members criticizing Ortolani for leaving his dog and abandoning her rescue, and others responding with understanding.
The Clear Creek County Sheriff's Department is now investigation the situation, as the dog was found with no ID or tags.
"The dog's fate will be decided by due legal process who will hopefully act impartially to make a fair and just decision," a post written by Scott Washburn said.
The thread has since been closed to comments.