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Airline Loses A Passenger’s Dog At World’s Busiest Airport


An airline loses a passenger’s dog at world’s busiest airport. Losing a pet while traveling may be a distressing situation for individuals who have a companion animal.

Paula Rodriguez is presently experiencing a distressing situation when her canine companion, Maia, was inadvertently misplaced by airport personnel responsible for escorting the animal to her designated Delta aircraft at Atlanta airport, renowned for its status as the most heavily used airport globally.

On August 18, Rodriguez embarked on a journey from her residence in the Dominican Republic to California, intending to have a two-week holiday accompanied by her canine companion, Maia, who is six years old.

The travel itinerary of Rodriguez involved a layover at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport while flying with Delta Air Lines, accompanied by Maia in the cabin.

The voyage proceeded to the final destination of San Francisco. Upon reaching Atlanta at 6:55 p.m. on Friday, Rodriguez recounts that she was notified by border force personnel that she did not satisfy the criteria outlined in her tourist visa.

COPYRIGHT_BUG: Published on https://www.bugbog.com/airline-loses-a-passengers-dog/ by Velma Battle on 2023-08-28T07:49:30.854Z

Consequently, they revoked her visa and instructed her to depart on the subsequent aircraft back to her own country. Upon the realization that the scheduled event would not occur until the following day, the authorities informed her that she would be required to spend the night in a detention facility. However, it was explicitly stated that her canine companion would not be permitted to accompany her.

They called a Delta agent, who took Maia from me. I started asking questions about where she’d be spending the night, and told him she’d been in a lot of distress on the flight. When we’d got there [to Atlanta] she’d puked with distress and had diarrhea. He told me not to worry, that she’d be taken to a facility with staff trained for that. That they’d give her food and water and take care of her. It wasn’t my wish, but I understood. There was nothing I could do, and I trusted him.- Paula Rodriguez

A Failed Reunion

Rodriguez's departure from the United States to the Dominican Republic was slated for 10:20 a.m. on the subsequent day. The immigration officials informed her that they would get her from the detention center one hour and forty-five minutes before to her planned flight, escorting her to the designated gate where her canine companion would be awaiting her.

Maia at the beach
Maia at the beach

I asked everyone – I told them I needed time to locate her, that she was sick and I wanted to clean her kennel, and they said, ‘Let’s go to the gate, she should be there.- Paula Rodriguez

As they arrived, passengers were already boarding. But Maia was not present.

The gate staff started making calls. A manager came and said they were looking for her, that she should be in the facility but they didn’t have time to look and I should get on a plane. I started panicking and said, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t get on when you’re telling me you don’t know where my dog is.- Paula Rodriguez

They rebooked her on a flight leaving an hour later for Punta Cana, a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Santo Domingo. Rodriguez was relieved to change planes and felt that it was a simple misunderstanding and that Maia would catch the following flight.

However, Maia did not appear, and border guards informed Rodriguez that she could not stay in the US for more than 24 hours without a visa. She had to board the plane to Punta Cana without the dog.

Desperately Seeking Maia

Rodriguez claims she experienced a panic attack on the three-hour journey to Punta Cana. She and Maia have rarely spent any time apart since Rodriguez, who used to rescue and rehome street dogs, met her as a month-old puppy and couldn't face the thought of parting with her.

Everyone who knows me knows what she means to me. I don’t go anywhere without her. She’s so well behaved that I take her to restaurants, literally everywhere. She’s my partner in everything.- Paula Rodriguez

She submitted a report upon arrival in Punta Cana. Meanwhile, her mother traveled to Santo Domingo in case the dog had ended up there unnoticed.

I called Delta, Atlanta airport, even San Francisco. I filed every claim possible. I called all the shelters and veterinary surgeries I could in Atlanta. I was in agony for two days with no answer.- Paula Rodriguez

She claims she was contacted by a Delta official in Santo Domingo on Monday, two days after the dog went missing.

He said that she was being transported [to the plane] on the runway, and staff had opened her kennel, and she had got out of the car and escaped into the middle of the runway.- Paula Rodriguez

Planes were taking off and coming in. He said they chased her but she ran faster and faster and she escaped. That’s all I know.- Paula Rodriguez

The next day, she received a call from another Delta official, who informed her that he would be managing her issue.

I’ve called him several times a day but he has no updates.- Paula Rodriguez

Rodriguez is unable to return to the United States to look for her puppy since her US visa has been revoked. Instead, Rodriguez's mother was flown down to Atlanta to represent her on August 24, six days after she last saw Maia.

They’re giving her a tour, and showing her the tapes, but she says there’s nothing – no leads. The thing is, that airport has more than 4,000 acres. My mom told me it’s scary dimensions – it’s definitely a possibility that she’s hiding in the airport, but she could be in a lot of places.- Paula Rodriguez

OAG, an aviation analytics group, named Hartsfield-Jackson the world's busiest airport earlier this month.

Living A Nightmare

Maia is microchipped, and Rodriguez claims that she and Delta have alerted and sent images of her to every animal shelter and veterinary surgeon in the county, which is why she believes Maia is still in the airport.

If anyone had found her, they’d have taken her to a shelter and she’d have been scanned. My information is right there. The highest possibility is that she’s still there, hiding.- Paula Rodriguez

A Delta spokesperson told CNN in a statement:

Delta teams have been working to locate and reunite this pet with the customer and we remain in touch with the customer to provide updates. Delta people feel deeply concerned for the customer and the dog and we’re committed to ongoing search efforts, working closely with the City of Atlanta Department of Aviation and other stakeholders.- Delta spokesperson

Meanwhile a spokesperson for the airport told CNN:

ATL’s operations teams conduct runway and airfield inspections throughout the day. At this time they have not encountered the dog, but will continue to remain vigilant should she appear. If she is seen, ATL’s staff will attempt to capture her and return her to the airline and her owner.- Airport's spokeperson

When questioned how the dog had the opportunity to escape in the first place, they did not react.

Final Words

A dog escapes its cage while being moved in Atlanta in 2019. After a four-day search, Gale, an American Staffordshire Terrier, was discovered. Pilots observed her on the runway and set up a trap with food to entice her in.

The wait for news is excruciating for Rodriguez.

I’m in agony. I’ve been living a nightmare since Friday, knowing my baby is out there somewhere scared, or might be injured. All kinds of thoughts come into my head and I can’t do anything. Every minute feels like a day.

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About The Authors

Velma Battle

Velma Battle - Travelling Expert

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