A woman has reportedly been left majorly distraught after her dog went missing at the massive Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport in the state of Georgia.
More than two weeks ago, Paula Rodriguez was meant to fly from the Dominican Republic to San Francisco for a two-week-long vacation alongside her rescue dog Maia.
During their layover in Georgia on August 18, however, Ms Rodriguez was told her holiday could not go ahead as her tourist visa “didn’t meet requirements”.
As border control staff cancelled her visa, the woman was told she had to go back home on the next flight.
The flight she could board was not until the following day, so the border patrol staff placed Ms Rodriguez into a detention centre overnight.
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Throughout this ordeal, Ms Rodriguez had not been given her dog back, but she was told they would be reunited ahead of their flight to the Dominican Republic.
Maia reportedly remained in the care of Delta ahead of the flight back, CBS correspondent David Begnaud claimed in a TikTok video focused on the incident.
But as the time to board approached, Ms Rodriguez was told her rescue dog was nowhere to be found.
In an interview with Atlanta News First published on August 22, Ms Rodriguez said: “I was like, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t get on this plane, I don’t know where my dog is’.”
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Officers, however, told Ms Rodriguez she could not remain at the airport to search for the dog due to US regulations, which meant she had to leave Georgia without Maia.
Ms Rodriguez, who rescued her pet from the streets when Maia was just one month old, claimed Delta did not provide her with an update by the time she had returned to the Dominican Republic.
Two days after her panicked return flight, Ms Rodriguez heard back from a Delta representative, who she claimed admitted the dog had gone missing.
She said: “He tells me, ‘Your dog, she broke out her kennel, and she has been missing since Saturday’.”
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Speaking about the disappearance of Maia, a Delta spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “Delta people 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.”
The airline representative also dismissed online reports Ms Rodriguez had been offered monetary compensation, saying: “No offer of compensation has been made or agreed to at this early stage.”
This statement came a few weeks after a communications representative for Delta was reported in August saying: “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.
“Delta people feel deeply concerned for the customer and the dog and we’re committed to ongoing search efforts, working closely with the City of Atlanta Department of Aviation and other stakeholders.”
Last week, Ms Rodriguez’s family decided to take the matter into their own hand as her sister Daniela launched a fundraiser aiming at gathering resources to try and locate Maia.
Ms Rodriguez, her sister wrote on the GoFundMe page, is “sleepless, with constant panic attacks and no appetite” following the ordeal.
She added: “Some of the resources we hope to use are: Professional pet detectives, legal consultation (fees are included), search dogs services, animal communicator services, reward flyers, surveillance services… etc.”
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