"My whole heart": Woman devastated after airline lost her dog at world's busiest airport

Sep 6 2023, 2:03 pm

A woman is heartbroken and angry after Delta Airlines lost her dog in one of the world’s busiest airports.

According to CNN, Paula Rodriguez and her dog Maia were flying to San Francisco from the Dominican Republic on August 18.

She had a layover at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport — the busiest airport in the world — but was told by US customs officials that her tourist visa did not meet the travel requirements to continue to her final destination.

Rodriguez was informed she could not continue her journey to the Dominican Republic and had to stay in a detention centre overnight.

Officials told Rodriguez that Maia would be unable to stay with her at the centre, but Delta would take care of the pup until they could reunite in the morning before her flight home.

Rodriguez was concerned about Maia being away from her for the night, as the six-month-old dog experienced distress on the flight to the US, but she was reassured that her pet was in good hands.

However, Rodriguez’s reunion with Maia never happened.

When she arrived at her gate the following day, Maia was nowhere to be seen.

Passengers were already boarding the flight, but there was no way Rodriguez could return home without her dog.

She was told staff were looking for Maia and that she could catch another flight in an hour.

But the dog couldn’t be found. Border officials told Rodriguez that because she did not have the correct visa documents, she was not permitted to stay in the US for over 24 hours, and she needed to catch the flight back to the Dominican Republic.

The flight home was highly distressing for Rodriguez, who goes everywhere with her puppy.

dog

Paula Rodriguez pictured with Maia/ GoFundMe

She filed a report when she returned to the Dominican Republic and didn’t receive a response until two days later.

She was informed that Maia was being transported to the plane before departure, but when her kennel was opened, she escaped onto the runway, and staff could not catch her.

According to a report from CBS journalist David Begnaud, Delta has offered Rodriguez US$1,800 in response to the incident.

However, in a response to Daily Hive, a Delta spokesperson said “No offer of compensation has been made or agreed to at this early stage.”

Because Rodriguez didn’t have the proper visa credentials, she was not permitted to fly back to the US to look for Maia, so Delta flew her mother out to Atlanta instead.

Unfortunately, she was also unable to locate the dog.

Rodriguez and her family have been tirelessly trying to locate Maia and have set up a GoFundMe to raise funds to help find the pup.

dog

GoFundMe

According to the fundraiser, organized by Rodriguez’s sister Daniela, the family has been “forced to take matters into [their] own hands” to locate Maia.

Daniela added that some resources the family hopes to deploy in the search include professional pet detectives, legal consultations, search dog services, and surveillance services.

“The emotional trauma of this experience [led] my sister to be hospitalized various times in the past few days, with no strength, emotional nor physical, she has not been able to work; it is also a priority to make sure she has the resources to stay strong through this fight,” she wrote.

Rodriguez also left a message on the GoFundMe page expressing how much Maia means to her.

“Maia is my whole heart, and I KNOW she is out there somewhere looking for her mom. I need your contribution to help in our search efforts to bring me closer to reuniting with my baby,” she said.

“Your support means the world to me as I navigate this emotional journey.”

In response to the situation, Delta told Daily Hive that its staff “remain heartbroken for this customer’s experience and have continued engaging with empathy at the core of our response.”

“We remain committed to finding resolution, and that’s why attorneys for Delta and the customer continue to be engaged. ”

 

Simran SinghSimran Singh

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