Former passenger Paula Rodriguez has claimed that Delta staff allegedly lost her dog, Maia, last Friday at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia.
Rodriguez was reportedly flying in from the Dominican Republic when she was denied entry to the United States by US Border Control officials. In an interview with Atlanta News First, Rodriguez explained: “They told me very kindly, ‘We’re so sorry but you don’t meet the requirements to enter the US. You’ve been denied entry, and you need to be sent back home to Santo Domingo.”
Rodriguez added: “They told me, ‘You’re going to have to sleep in a detention centre, and your dog can’t come with you.’”
After spending a night in a detention centre separated from her beloved pet, Rodriguez was set to take a flight back home on Saturday morning. But when she was prepared to board her flight, her dog was reportedly nowhere to be found. Rodriguez said that she was in tears as she told border officials that she wouldn’t board without her dog, but they allegedly informed Rodriguez that by law, they couldn’t have her in the airport for “more than 24 hours”.
When she arrived in the Dominican Republic, Rodriguez explained that she tried to get answers from Delta officials. “I started making calls, I started making claims, nobody knew where she was,” Rodriguez told Atlanta News First.
Rodriguez revealed that she had finally heard back from a Delta representative the following Monday, but they told her that Maia had “broken out of her kennel” and was reportedly missing since Saturday. “After that, Delta hasn’t called me once or emailed me about the whereabouts of my dog,” Rodriguez claimed.
She also informed the Atlanta-based outlet that she had rescued Maia from the streets and she’s “had her since she’s been one month old.”
Andrew Gobeil, the senior director of communications for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, explained to Atlanta News First: “ATL’s operations teams conduct runway and airfield inspections throughout the day. At this time they have not encountered the dog, but will continue to remain vigilant should she appear. If she is seen, ATL’s staff will attempt to capture her and return her to the airline and her owner.”
Meanwhile, representatives from Delta Air Lines have told Atlanta News First that they remain dedicated to finding the dog. However, the company denies Rodriguez’s claims that they have not been in contact with her since she lost her dog.
“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,” a Delta representative said. “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.”
The Independent has contacted Delta and Rodriguez for comment.