By John Ensor •
Published: 29 Aug 2023 • 15:43
What’s worse than losing your luggage at an airport? Losing your pet.
On August 18, Paula Rodriguez experienced this horror when her dog Maia vanished at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest aviation hub, according to ABC7NY.
Rodriguez, a resident of the Dominican Republic, was en route to California for a fortnight’s holiday with Maia, her six-year-old canine companion. The duo flew with Delta Air Lines and had a layover in Atlanta. Upon landing at 6:55 pm, Rodriguez was informed by border officials that her tourist visa was invalid, leading to its cancellation and her subsequent detention overnight.
‘They called a Delta agent, who took Maia from me,’ Rodriguez told CNN. ‘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. Upon arrival in Atlanta, Maia had become ill.
Rodriguez was assured that Maia would be cared for and that they would reunite before her return flight the next day at 10:20 am. However, Maia was nowhere to be found when Rodriguez arrived at the gate.
‘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,’ said Rodriguez. ‘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.”‘
With her visa cancelled, Rodriguez had no choice but to leave the US without Maia. She was forced to board a flight to Punta Cana, a different destination in the Dominican Republic.
Rodriguez has since been in a state of distress. ‘I’m in agony,’ she said. ‘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.’
Delta Air Lines and Atlanta airport authorities are still searching for Maia. A Delta spokesperson stated, ‘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.’
The airport’s operations teams are also on the lookout for Maia but have yet to find her. In 2019, a similar incident occurred at the same airport, but the dog was eventually found after four days.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
I would sue the crap out of the airline
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