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Missing dog found at Atlanta airport three weeks later


In an unexpected and pleasant turn of events, a 6-year-old Chihuahua mix that disappeared at an Atlanta airport three weeks ago has been found.

The operations team at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport found the dog Saturday, “hiding near the North Cargo facilities,” the airport said on social media Sunday morning.

Maia, a rescue dog, is “tired but in apparent good health,” airport officials said. Maia was taken to a veterinarian Saturday, they added. Delta, the airline that was responsible for the dog when it was lost, said Maia would soon be reunited with her owner, Paula Camila Rodriguez, 25, who lives in the Dominican Republic.

“We are thankful for the teamwork that has led to our customer’s dog’s recovery,” Drake X. Castañeda, a spokesperson for Delta, told The Washington Post via email. “Delta is working to reunite the dog with our customer as soon as possible.”

Rodriguez arrived at the Atlanta airport, considered the busiest in the world, with her emotional support dog on Aug. 18. But the two were separated after Rodriguez was turned away at customs because of problems with her tourist visa, she previously told The Post.

Rodriguez was flying from Santo Domingo to California to visit friends, and Atlanta was only meant to be a brief layover. But because she had obtained the wrong kind of visa, Rodriguez said she was told she would have to return home.

Before departing, she had to spend the night at an airport detention facility, while Maia was supposed to be housed at a Delta pet facility, Rodriguez recalled. The two were supposed to be reunited for their flight back home the following morning, Rodriguez said.

But the next morning, when Rodriguez was ready to board her flight to Santo Domingo, the Delta agents at the gate could not find her dog.

Later, Rodriguez was told Maia never made it to the pet facility. Two days after returning home without her dog, Rodriguez said a Delta agent explained Maia broke her carrier in the middle of an active runway while being transported to the pet facility the night of Aug. 18. Airline workers ran after her, but Maia escaped into a restricted airport area, Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez was not alone in the search for Maia. A Go Fund Me was established to collect funds to help look for the dog, strangers and animal rights activists volunteered to help and many sent anonymous tips to Rodriguez about possible sightings using the hashtag #whereismaia.

For weeks, airline personnel and local officials kept looking for Maia, according to the Castañeda, the Delta spokesperson.

This included following up on leads they were given and searches through night-vision goggles. Delta even flew Rodriguez’s mother to Atlanta to help search for the missing pet.

Rodriguez’s mother brought some of her daughter’s clothes to plant a familiar scent around the airport, Rodriguez previously told The Post.

Delta lost woman’s dog while she was stuck in airport customs, she says

Castañeda said Delta will fulfill Rodriguez’s “wishes for how she wants to be reunited with her dog,” and that Maia was brought to a vet to ensure she is fit to travel. The now-famous dog appeared to be in good health, Castañeda said.

Rodriguez did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday night, but on social media, she shared a video that showed her celebrating with loved ones. In an Instagram story, Rodriguez said she was “over the moon.”

Maia came into Rodriguez’s life in 2017 when she found the dog inside a box on the streets before Hurricane Maria made its way through the Dominican Republic. Rodriguez planned to give her a home until the storm passed and then take her to an animal rescue, but Maia won Rodriguez’s heart.

Since then, the two have been inseparable and have shared a love for exploring, hiking and even surfing, if the waves are not too high, Rodriguez previously told The Post.

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