A Colorado man who admitted abandoning his injured dog atop a mountain during a hiking trip pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge on Tuesday, perhaps writing the last chapter in a touching story of the dog's survival.
Anthony Ortolani, 29, of Westminster, received only 30 hours of community service for his plea. He potentially faced 18 months behind bars and a $5,000 fine if the case had gone to court.
Missy, a 112-pound German Shepherd-mix, sustained injuries to its paws during last August's hike up Colorado's Mount Bierstadt, to the point where the dog could no longer support its own weight, Ortolani said.
Ortolani, who was with a hiking companion, claimed his own health deteriorated significantly during the hike. Ortolani also said he was concerned about taking care of his hiking partner, the 19-year-old son of a friend, so the two left to get to safety, according to Examiner.com.
Ortolani said he tried to carry the large dog down the mountain but with no success. He then decided to leave the animal on the mountainside where he believed it would die as a result of the injuries.
Missy's will to live, however, proved stronger than Ortolani thought.
Eight days after Missy was abandoned, a group of hikers rescued the dog, carrying it to safety in an over-sized backpack. The eight hikers, who later appeared on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" to discuss the rescue, were made aware of Missy's desperate situation through an online hiking forum. A picture of the dog was posted by a couple which a day earlier came across the animal but were unable to carry it themselves.
Missy was spotted wandering at an elevation of about 13,000 feet and was in bad shape when the group found the dog but has since recovered, according to Examiner.com.
After the dog was rescued, Ortolani tried to reclaim ownership. However, he has since relinquished ownership, allowing one of the rescuers to keep the dog, following his animal cruelty charge and the various death threats he received, according to various news sources.
"I don't want to give her up. I love her, but those people risked life and limb to get her out of there, and that has got to be worth something," he said at a news conference on Sunday.
During the interview with DeGeneres in September, the dog's adoptive owner, John Steed, who renamed the dog "Lucky" said, "I've been an animal lover my whole life and I've got two rescue German Shepherds. I think she'd fit in so well."
Ortolani's hiking companion was not charged in the case.
© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.