After enduring nearly a month of heartache and anxiety, a dog owner can finally find solace as her missing dog was safely located at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport on Saturday, as reported by airport officials.
Delta Air Lines passenger Paula Rodriguez’s 6-year-old dog, Maia, went missing back in August at the airport, which holds the distinction of being the busiest in the world.
According to a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, the airport’s operations team discovered Maia hiding near the north cargo facilities. “Despite being tired, she appears to be in good health. She has been taken to a veterinarian and is expected to return home soon,” said airport officials.
On August 18, Rodriguez and Maia embarked on a journey from their home in the Dominican Republic to California for a two-week vacation.
However, upon arriving in Atlanta for a layover, Rodriguez was informed by border patrol staff that her tourist visa did not meet the necessary requirements. They canceled her visa and instructed her to take the next flight back home, as Rodriguez had previously told CNN.
With the next flight to Punta Cana scheduled for the following day, Rodriguez faced the distressing reality of spending the night alone in a detention center, separated from her beloved canine companion.
“They called a Delta agent, who took Maia from me,” Rodriguez told CNN.
The next day, Rodriguez arrived at her flight’s gate early, eagerly anticipating her reunion with Maia. To her dismay, Maia never arrived.
Unable to stay in the United States for over 24 hours without a visa, Rodriguez had no choice but to board her flight to Punta Cana without Maia, an experience that triggered a panic attack during her journey home, she recalled.
“Everyone who knows me knows what she means to me,” Rodriguez said of her cherished pet. “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.”
Two days after Maia went missing, a Delta representative contacted Rodriguez to deliver unfortunate news. “He said that she was being transported (to the plane) on the runway, and staff had opened her kennel, and she had escaped into the middle of the runway,” Rodriguez told CNN.
Despite Rodriguez’s persistent calls to Delta for updates, weeks passed without receiving any new information.
A Delta spokesperson previously stated to CNN: “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 employees deeply empathize with the customer and the dog, and we’re committed to continuing our search efforts, collaborating closely with the City of Atlanta Department of Aviation and other stakeholders.”
With her tourist visa canceled, Rodriguez sent her mother to Atlanta to join the search efforts across the expansive 4,000 acres of Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.