A traveler’s beloved dog who disappeared after escaping from his Delta Airlines cage in Georgia was found safe and sound Saturday, after spending more than three weeks on the run.
Maia, the Chihuahua mix, was found by a good Samaritan hiding under a cargo rack at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.
“I didn’t say a word, I walked to the end of the shelf and started to slide under my back. It was about 10 inches off the ground,” local animal activist Robin Cole Allgood said on Facebook.
“I reached out to her and she still hadn’t realized I was behind her… I took a deep breath and just grabbed her waist without hesitation. The next thing I hear is someone yelling ‘Robin’s got her!!!!’”
Although tired, the canine appeared to be in good health and was taken to a veterinarian for a full evaluation. confirmed the airline.
Maia had been missing since she ran out of her box on Aug. 18 while her owner, Paula Rodríguez, a native of the Dominican Republic, was questioned by border agents, her lawyer said.
Maia was found safe hiding at the Atlanta airport 24 days after disappearing from her cage.Facebook
Rodriguez was forced to return to her home country rather than her destination in San Francisco due to a lack of visa credentials, even as officials admitted her pet was nowhere to be found.
Delta offered Rodriguez $1,800 for the tragic incident, which the dog’s owner considered an “insult” that could not replace her beloved pet, her attorney said.
That’s when Allgood took on the task of putting up signs around the airport to report the missing dog, which turned out to be vital to Maia’s rescue.
Robin Cole Allgood led the recovery efforts to bring Maia back home to her owner. Facebook
A FedEx cargo employee called Allgood at 2:30 a.m. Saturday to report seeing the puppy the day before, prompting her to rush to the airport.
Allgood said airport staff took her on multiple “futile searches” before finally escorting her to the North Cargo facility around 6 p.m.
At that point, the mother realized she was going to miss her flight to Hawaii with her family, but decided the vacation could wait one more day, while the pup couldn’t.
Maia was found hiding under cargo racks at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.Facebook
“I couldn’t leave without finding Maia. He had promised Paula at the beginning that he would find her! Allgood said.
The group of airport workers and Allgood eventually discovered Maia hiding under the exterior cargo shelves, but had difficulty reaching the frightened dog.
Dozens of employees tried to get her out of her tight hiding place with wildlife nets, long poles and barricades surrounding the site.
But the efforts proved fruitless.
“Everyone was standing around talking about what to do next…being me, I decided I was going to get this dog,” Allgood recalled.
Although tired, a veterinarian discovered that Maia was in incredible health.X / @ATLairport
He slid under the shelf and managed to pull Maia to safety.
A veterinarian reportedly said the dog was in incredible shape considering she had been lost for 24 days in the scorching summer heat of Atlanta.
Surprisingly, Maia’s paw pads suffered no heat damage, a suggestion that she may have only maneuvered around the airport grounds at night, which also explains why she had gone so long without being seen.
Maia will be returned to owner Paula Rodríguez in the Dominican Republic.Facebook
Maia’s owner is reportedly overjoyed after hearing the good news and is looking forward to reuniting with her beloved family member.
It is unclear what next legal steps Rodriguez will take.
His lawyer had been in talks with Delta after Maia’s disappearance, especially after the airline offered the $1,800 offer for mishandling that he later defended, claiming it was not a “compensation offer.”
The Rodriguez family spent an undisclosed amount of money and resources trying to find their beloved pet themselves.
Rodriguez’s mother flew to Atlanta herself to search for the missing puppy after her daughter was denied entry into the country.