Passenger’s Dog Disappears Under Delta’s Watch. What Went Wrong?

In an unsettling incident that unfolded earlier this month, a passenger traveling on a Delta Airlines flight with a layover in Atlanta has come forward with a distressing tale of her canine companion going missing while in the custody of the airline’s staff during a stopover at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Paula Rodriguez, the passenger at the center of this story, detailed her plight in a heartfelt post on the “Atlanta Area Lost and Found Pets” Facebook group, where she sought help and support after the sudden disappearance of her dog, Maia, on August 18.

Passenger's Dog Goes Missing In Atlanta While In Delta's Care
Source: Facebook

Begging to know what happened to her dog

Rodriguez expressed her growing frustration in her online plea, stating, “For 48 hours, I have been left without any information regarding her whereabouts, and it was only today that I received communication from Delta, informing me that she managed to escape from her kennel on the airport tarmac, with airport personnel currently attempting to locate her.” Accompanying her message was a poignant photograph of her missing furry companion.

With a sense of urgency, Rodriguez reached out to local shelters in the Atlanta area and engaged the Facebook community to gather any leads. “Desperation has taken over me, and each passing moment holds significance,” she passionately implored.

The Facebook post rapidly gained traction, amassing over a thousand shares and drawing national attention when Rodriguez recounted her ordeal in an interview with CNN over the weekend.

Passenger's Dog Goes Missing In Atlanta While In Delta's Care
Source: CNN.com – Paula Rodriguez was traveling through Atlanta airport when staff lost her dog Maia.

Rodriguez, who had been journeying from the Dominican Republic to San Francisco, shared that her tourist visa encountered issues during a Customs and Border Patrol check at the Atlanta airport. Subsequently, she was compelled to spend the night at a detention center while awaiting her return flight home. Distressingly, during this trying time, her dog, Maia, was entrusted to Delta’s care.

Despite assurances from Delta staff that Maia would be waiting for her at the gate the following day, Rodriguez’s hopes were shattered as the reality unfolded differently. “I pleaded with everyone, explaining that I needed time to find her, especially since she was unwell and I wanted to clean her kennel. Their response was to proceed to the gate, where they assured me she would be,” Rodriguez recounted in her conversation with CNN.

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The situation took a more concerning turn when gate personnel struggled to locate Maia, leading Rodriguez to reschedule her travel plans to remain at the airport, hoping for a reunion that never materialized.

Dog Ran Down The Runway?

Passenger's Dog Goes Missing In Atlanta While In Delta's Care
Source: CNN.com – Rodriguez rescued six-year-old Maia from the streets as a month-old puppy.

Rodriguez divulged that she initiated every conceivable action, including filing official claims, and received a call from a Delta representative two days after Maia’s disappearance. The representative conveyed an alarming update: “She was being transported [to the plane] on the runway, and while her kennel was opened by staff, she bolted from the vehicle and escaped onto the runway,” Rodriguez recounted.

A Delta representative, in correspondence with CBS News, confirmed that Maia managed to escape her enclosure while being transported in the operations area adjacent to the terminal structures. The representative clarified that Maia would have been returned to Rodriguez before her Customs and Border Protection-required flight, as per the norm.

Notably, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol does not permit cabin pets—those traveling within a carrier beneath seats—at their detention facilities. The representative from Delta expressed the airline’s empathy for Rodriguez’s distress and reassured that exhaustive efforts were underway to locate Maia. “Delta’s employees are deeply saddened by the challenges this customer and her family are facing. We are maintaining close contact with her as we remain vigilant in our search for her dog,” the representative affirmed.

Maia - Passenger's Dog Goes Missing In Atlanta While In Delta's Care
Source: @pcrod

The relentless search for Maia has seen Delta’s personnel employing night-vision goggles and actively spreading awareness through notices posted at the airport and local animal shelters. The community’s cooperation has been enlisted in the quest to reunite Rodriguez with her beloved pet.

Amid the ongoing search, Rodriguez’s mother has journeyed to Atlanta to represent her daughter, contributing to the search efforts. The Delta spokesperson confirmed that the airline has been in constant communication with Rodriguez and has extended “complimentary accommodations” to her mother, facilitating her involvement in the search operation.

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The exact circumstances leading to Maia’s disappearance are under investigation, with Delta committed to uncovering the truth behind this disheartening incident.


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