A prize-winning show dog went missing at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Saturday night, as she was set to fly back home to Amsterdam.
Gale, a 22-month-old pure-bred American Staffordshire terrier, was set to be loaded onto a KLM flight bound for Europe when she reportedly got loose from her crate. According to a Facebook post, staff at the airport had left the dog alone in her crate when she escaped.
Floris van Essen, Gale’s owner, said the dog was secure in her crate after going through security. However, 10 minutes before boarding the flight, those responsible for handling Gale told airport officials that they had lost her. It has not been reported how the dog managed to escape her crate or where the crate was when she got out.
Van Essen was told to board the flight while airport staff continued their search for the dog.
"As you can imagine, this is just a horrible ordeal," van Essen, who returned to the Netherlands, told 11Alive in a message.
In a statement to Fox News, a spokesperson for Hartsfield-Jackson airport said the search for Gale is “ongoing.”
“Our Airside Operations team – which includes two wildlife biologists – has been engaged in the search throughout our 47-hundred acre campus. Our various partners, including the FAA, CBP, and airlines, are aware and monitoring the airfield.”
KLM airlines told Fox News in a statement that they are working with the airport in the search.
"A dog broke out of its cage as it was being loaded into the cargo of KL622 on March 23. The dog’s owner has been notified. KLM expresses its sincerest regrets and is actively working with the Atlanta Airport to search for the dog," the statement read.
Gale is microchipped and was last seen wearing a pink collar. The owners request anyone who sees the dog to contact them via Facebook.
This is not the first time a pet has been lost at the airport. Last April, a cat escaped from her handler’s arms at JFK airport in Queens, N.Y. She was found a week later.
More recently, in August, an emotional support dog went missing also at JFK airport after LATAM Airlines failed to load him on the correct flight. According to reports, the Labradoodle was taken home by an airline staff member after missing the flight. Once at the employee’s home, the dog escaped and was not found.