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Internet rages over abandoned dog: Should the owner get a second chance?

Something you don't expect to see while trekking through the Colorado mountains: a German Shepherd, tucked in between rocks, fighting to stay alive.

That's what Scott Washburn and his wife, Amanda, witnessed when they were exploring the tough terrain of Mount Bierstadt last weekend. They soon organized a group of eight climbers for a nine-hour, harrowing, heart-melting rescue, where they had to carry the injured dog down the mountain in a backpack.

The event has caused an eruption of passionate, emotional responses to 'miracle Missy' – who, it turned out, had been alive for more than a week, 13,000 feet up the mountain. Many commenters initially came to the defence of the owner, likening the decision to saving a family member or pet from a house fire.

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But things got ugly (and turned into a 46-page anger-filled comment thread, which eventually had to be shut down) when the owner himself came on to claim the dog.

"I did what I thought was right at the time to protect myself and the teenager that I was with," he wrote. "I can tell you that she would be very happy to see me.. . Missy is getting another chance, I am asking the same."

"I feel that the owner should spend 8 days and nights on the Sawtooth himself without water, food, shelter," wrote one angry commenter.

Mr. Washburn – who has expressed interest in adopting Missy himself – weighed in, before the board was closed by the administrator.

"Dozens of people devoted their time and effort to find a dog they had no connection with," he wrote. "[The owner] claims that he has learned his lesson, and it is my sincere hope that he has. My concern now is that this dog finds a happy and healthy home with owners that will love her and be willing to be responsible for her. It is my opinion that despite [the owner]'s great remorse he does not meet the above criteria."

The owner has admitted he should have done more after leaving her there – posting signs at the mountain's entrance, or submitting a post on the board in the first place. He said he checked online forums initially, and after he didn't see anything, "it broke my heart, but I thought she was gone."

"If the rescuers will not put their lives in jepordy (sic), it didn't really seem all that wise to ask my friends and family to do the same," he said.

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According to MSNBC, he was charged with animal cruelty today, and the fate of Missy will be in the hands of a judge.

Some still defended Missy's owner for fessing up to his mistakes and coming forward at all. "There are obvious lessons to be learned, but I hope people can find forgiveness and that you get your dog back."

What do you think: Does Missy's owner deserve all the Internet rage headed his way? What lengths have you gone to for a lost dog?

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About the Author
Editor in the Opinion section

Amberly McAteer is an editor in the Opinion section at The Globe and Mail. She has been a homepage editor, online editor and community editor in Features - including Life, Travel, Style, Arts and Books. She's written columns about her quest to run a 10K and find the perfect dog. More

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