A Delta passenger’s dog who escaped onto the airfield at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport more than three weeks ago was found on Saturday, airport officials said.
The dog, a chihuahua mix whose name is Maia, was found hiding near the airport’s North Cargo facilities, according to the airport.
“Tired but in apparent good health, she was transported to a vet and is expected to return home soon,” the airport posted on Twitter.
Maia had been missing since mid-August, when her owner Paula Rodriguez flew to Atlanta from her home in the Dominican Republic on a tourist visa and was denied entry into the United States. Rodriguez had to stay overnight in an airport detention center, where her dog Maia was not allowed.
While being handled by Delta staff in an outdoor area of the airport, Maia — who is microchipped — escaped her carrier. Rodriguez flew home without knowing where Maia was and was later told that the dog had last been seen by Delta staff Aug. 18.
The lost dog had prompted talks between attorneys for Delta and the dog’s owner Paula Rodriguez.
Delta said Sunday: “We are thankful for the teamwork that has led to our customer’s dog’s recovery.”
The airline said it worked with others at the airport when searches started last month “and as we followed every lead presented since then.”
Robin Cole Allgood, a pet recovery specialist in Georgia, explained in a post in a Facebook group dedicated to finding Maia how the dog was finally found.
According to Allgood, a FedEx cargo worker had seen the dog, saw Allgood’s missing dog flyers about Maia at the airport and called her at 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning. Allgood said she immediately headed to Hartsfield-Jackson to search for the dog and spent hours trying to get access to the secure cargo area of the airport, causing her to miss a flight with her family to Hawaii that morning.
She posted that she drove around the perimeter of the airport all day and asked a worker to look for the dog — and that worker found where Maia was hiding under a cargo rack.
Workers from Delta, FedEx and the airport — including the airport’s wildlife biologist — gathered at the scene and brought in equipment to try to barricade the area and capture the dog, according to Allgood. Allgood wrote that she managed to slide under the rack, grab hold of Maia and hand her off to the airport’s wildlife specialist, who secured the dog in a kennel.
Delta said it brought the dog to a veterinarian for observation and to ensure she was fit to travel, and the dog appeared to be in good health.
“The vet stated she was in great shape considering she had been lost for three weeks,” Allgood posted. “The vet stated this dog is a survivor!”
Delta said it was “working to reunite the dog with our customer as soon as possible.” The airline said it would facilitate Rodriguez’s wishes for how she wanted to be reunited with the dog.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) had offered a reward of up to $5,000, in addition to a $1,000 reward offered by Rodriguez, for the return of the Maia.
A PETA spokeswoman said the organization was “relieved that Maia has been found and will be reunited with her guardian and family.”
“Once we confirm the individual(s) who found her, they will receive PETA’s reward.” PETA said. “We also plan to send gift baskets to people who searched diligently for Maia over the past few weeks.”