Show Dog Vanishes at Atlanta Airport — but There’s a Happy Ending

Mar 26, 2019

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A prize-winning show dog went missing at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) on Saturday, and airport authorities are searching for her. [Update 4:25pm ET: Gale has been found! An email from the Atlanta airport’s public affairs office was sent with the laconic but moving subject line “dog found”. According to the airport, the dog was spotted earlier on Tuesday and caught with a baited trap.]

The pure-bred American Staffordshire Terrier, named Gale, was headed home to Amsterdam on a KLM flight following a round of shows throughout the US. After completing her last one in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday, Gale was escorted to ATL with another dog by her handlers, and they were checked in for their KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight back home. However, shortly after they boarded, the handlers were informed that Gale’s kennel was found empty.

Since going missing, Gale had been reportedly running loose in the airport. Airport authorities had last reported seeing the dog Monday morning around 3:30 am.

“The dog somehow got out of the crate and is now running around the airfield,” Andrew Gobeil, a spokesperson for Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, told ABC News on Monday. “We have about 4,600 acres of field out there, from the airfield and from the woods area. So we’re looking throughout the entire airport.” ATL is a huge airport, the busiest in the world by number of passengers handled a year.

Upon hearing about the situation, Gale’s owner, Floris Van Essen, told ABC that he and his wife were completely panicked. “We were out of our minds,” said Van Essen. “You can imagine it’s horrific to hear that a dog is gone and nobody knows where she is.” KLM said in an email that the cause of the escape was that the cage was “improperly secured” by the airport staff. The airline, along with ATL staff, says it’s actively searching for the missing dog.

“We’re optimistic that we’ll find Gale,” Gobeil had said on Tuesday.

Featured image of the Atlanta airport from above on June 24, 2018 by Alberto Riva/TPG 

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