Last month, a dog owner was “living a nightmare” after an airline lost her dog in world’s busiest airport, with no sign of hope in sight.
But after three weeks of heartbreak, she finally got a miracle...
Maia goes missing
On August 18, Paula Rodriguez, from the Dominican Republic, boarded a Delta Airlines flight for a two-week vacation in California with her six-year-old dog Maia, according to CNN.
But during a layover at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Paula was stopped by border force staff who told her she didn’t meet the requirements of her tourist visa and told her she would have to return home. Since the next flight out wasn’t until the next day, she had to spend the night in the detention center, forcing her to separate from her dog.
A Delta agent took Maia for the night, though Paula expressed worry because her dog had been distressed from the flight. “He told me not to worry, that she’d be taken to a facility with staff trained for that,” Paula told CNN. “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.”
The next day she was escorted to the gate, where she was told Maia would be waiting — but the dog wasn’t there, and no one seemed to know where she was.
Paula panicked as it became clear her dog was unaccounted for. She refused to get on the plane without her dog, but when border agents told her she couldn’t stay in the US without a visa, she had no choice but to fly to Punta Cana on her own.
Far away from the airport, Paula continued to search for answers, calling shelters and airports for any sign: “I was in agony for two days with no answer,” she said.
While there was still no sign of Maia, Paula finally learned how she got loose: while the dog was being transported to the plane, staff opened her kennel and she got loose on the runway.
“Planes were taking off and coming in,” she told CNN. “He said they chased her but she ran faster and faster and she escaped. That’s all I know.”
Paula believed that the dog was still in the airport — Maia is microchipped, so if she ended up in a local shelter Paula would’ve been notified — but searching the airport was no easy task either: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the world’s busiest airport by passenger traffic, and Delta’s hub is the largest airline hub in the world.
According to CBS News correspondent David Begnaud, Delta offered Paula $1,800 after losing the dog: Paula’s attorney called the offer an “insult,” and the airline denied that it was an offer of compensation. Delta representatives previously told CNN that they “feel deeply concerned” about Maia and were still searching.
Since Paula was unable to enter the US, her mother flew in on her behalf, and searched everywhere for Maia. All Paula could do was wait from afar, worrying over her lost pet.
“I’m in agony,” she told CNN. “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.”
“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.”
Maia finally found
Weeks passed with no sign of Maia. But Paula finally got a much-needed miracle in the form of a total stranger.
Robin Allgood, a lost pet recovery specialist from south of Atlanta, heard about Maia’s story and reached out to Paula, offering to help free of charge.
“I will be you in Georgia because you’re not here. I promise you I’ll find your dog. I promise you,” she wrote to Paula, according to Insider.
Now on the case, Robin got an important lead: a FedEx employee from a nearby facility spotted the dog and recognized her from one of her flyers. Robin rushed to the scene: “I jumped out of bed and headed straight to the airport,” she wrote in a local Facebook group.
In the early hours of the morning, Robin was “sent on a wild goose chase between Delta and Fed Ex,” with both companies refusing to grant her entry to look for the dog. “I lost count on the trips I made between the two,” Robin wrote.
Robin was forced to miss her own flight to Hawaii with her family, but remained dedicated to finding Maia. She circled the loop road outside the FedEx facility and tried to enlist an employee who spotted the dog, but she was constantly “given a hard time” by security.
Finally, an airport field operations employee led her to the area where Maia was hiding. With the dog in sight, teams of Delta and FedEx employees arrived on the scene. Robin led the rescue effort, and was finally able to sneak up and grab her.
Robin said that Maia was in “great shape” considering she was missing for three weeks; Maia stayed overnight at the vet and received IV fluids.
Atlanta Airport wrote that she was “expected to return home soon.” Paula has not yet commented on Maia’s return.
We’re so glad Maia has finally been found! Thank you to Robin Allgood for stepping up to search for this missing dog and finally bringing such a relief to Paula and her family.
Please share this amazing update! ❤️