Tentative Agreement Reached in the Case of Birba

Attorneys with The Animal Legal Center announce that their client, Anthony Emerson, wants to surrender the custody of his 5-year-old German Shepard/Rottweiler mix to one of the members of the volunteer rescue team who took it upon themselves to retrieve Birba from the kennel. Attorneys with The Animal Legal Center have worked out a tentative deal with Clear Creek District Attorney’s office that Mr. Emerson will enter a plea this week to a county ordinance violation.

“Mr. Emerson wants the best for Birba,” said Jennifer White, founder and attorney with The Animal Legal Center. “I took this case because I want to see some changes in how mountain communities handle this type of situation. We would hope that there be some sort of process in place to assist animal owners who choose to take their beloved pets up into the mountains.”

Mr. Emerson is an experienced climber who has summited seven of Colorado’s Fourteeners. Birba has accompanied him on six of these climbs.

“I am very grateful to the rescuers who saved Birba,” said Emerson. “The Sawtooth turned out to be much more difficult for Birba than I realized. I never intended to leave her up there but was unable to rescue Birba and my inexperienced climbing partner at the same time given the terrain and the weather moving in.”

During the climb, Birba’s paws had become injured by walking across the loose rocks. In addition bad weather had begun to move in and his climbing companion, a friend’s young son, water source broke, he decided it was time to return to his car. The dog was unable to walk; therefore, they Missy, who is 112 pounds, over the rocks. For over two hours they made their way across difficult terrain. Birba struggled while being carried and after dropping her after nearly falling himself, Mr. Emerson made the difficult decision to leave her behind.

After leaving Birba on the mountain, Mr. Emerson was able to call a friend in Denver to report his whereabouts and asked him to contact search and rescue in the area. The friend was informed by the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office that the region was too dangerous and that search and rescue does not recover animals.

When the owner returned to the trailhead, he had sustained injuries to his feet and was barely able to walk. He called his friend in Denver who then told him that search and rescue would not rescue Birba and that this area was too treacherous for them to attempt to save a dog.