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On Saturday, March 23, 2019, a prize-winning show dog escaped her kennel just moments before being loaded onto the cargo hold of the plane. The dog was missing for three days before employees at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport spotted her and were able to reunite her with her owner.
Gale, a 10-month-old pure-bred American Staffordshire terrier from Amsterdam, was in the United States to participate in a series of events with her handlers. They only had one more event left in Louisville, Kentucky, when Gale’s handlers checked into their KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight.
Soon after the handlers boarded their flight, employees of the airline let them know that Gale’s crate was empty when the loading crew went to move her onto the plane. The handlers contacted Floris Van Essen, Gale’s owner in Amsterdam, to tell him the horrible news.
Audrey Washington ✔@AudreyWSBTV
This prize-winning show dog was supposed to board a plane from Atlanta to Amsterdam, but instead she disappeared at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Hear from her worried owners and the latest on the search effort, at 4pm.@wsbtv @ATLairport
“A dog managed to break out of its cage as it was being loaded into the cargo of flight KL622 from Atlanta to Amsterdam on March 23,” KLM told WSB-TV. “The dog’s owner had been notified. KLM expresses its sincerest regrets and is actively working with the Atlanta Airport to search for the dog.”
Van Essen told ABC News on March 25th that he and his wife were “completely panicked.”
“We were out of our minds. You can imagine it’s horrific to hear that a dog is gone and nobody knows where she is,” he said.
Audrey Washington ✔@AudreyWSBTV
“I just want my dog back.”
Gale was supposed to board a KLM Airlines plane to Amsterdam, instead the prize-winning show dog disappeared at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Hear from her owner and I’ll have the latest on the search, next.@wsbtv
Airport employees, as well as authorities, were searching the 4,600 acres of land behind the airport all weekend with no luck.
Meanwhile, Van Essen was fighting against distance and the time difference to get as much information as possible about the location of his dog.
“We’re really missing a family member,” Van Essen told ABC News. “We don’t have any children, the dogs are our children. Her brother lives here, her mother lives here and we really want her back home safe.”
Early on Tuesday morning, the Atlanta Aiport tweeted that Gale had been finally been spotted and that a bait trap was set.
Just an hour later, Gale was successfully captured and returned to her owners. The picture that followed was absolutely heart-warming.
Atlanta Airport ✔@ATLairport
Pure happiness. Gayle and her owner reunited. #ATL
Thanks to the efforts of the employees at the Atlanta Airport and other officials who helped search for the scared dog, Gale is finally able to go home.