ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - A prized show dog is back with its loving owner Tuesday after a wild adventure at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Gale, an American Staffordshire Terrier, went missing Saturday after being checked in for a flight near the international terminal. Officials said Gale got out of her crate and went running onto the airfield.
The airport called in two of their on-staff experts. Steven Boyd and Jeff Miller are airport wildlife biologists. They are usually tasked with keeping wildlife off the runway and the property, but they quickly switched gears to help the domesticated pup.
An intense search of the 4,700-acre property began almost right away, but their first big break came Sunday when Gale was spotted in a section of the airport known as the rock quarry. Boyd and Miller spent all-day Monday searching well into the evening, even during a hailstorm, tracking the missing canine.
“We had some pretty serious searching across the entire airport but we knew that she was moving into the rock quarry,” Miller said.
Monday morning, Gale was once again spotted in the same area of the airport.
“We focused most of our searching there because we knew she was not coming out,” Miller said.
“We were under the impressions that she was there for cover and water,” said Boyd, adding the area is also below flight line which makes it a bit quieter than the rest of the property.
“It is a stormwater runoff basin, so with the rain last night, there could have been a low-level of water that could have been hazardous for her,” Miller said.
But thankfully, Gale stayed to the perimeter, taking cover in some of the shrubs during the heavy rain and hail Monday night.
Tuesday morning, they tried a different tactic. They brought Gale’s owner to the rock quarry to try to lure her out. He walked down into the rocky area and began to call her name. It took about 20 minutes or so for the show dog to be coerced from her hiding place, but when she did it was pure joy.
"Just seeing that dog and the bond with the owner. And that dog was jumping four-feet high and was super excited and relieved that she didn't have to spend another night out in the wild," said Boyd.
Boyd and Miller are a jack-of-all-trades at the airport in their efforts to keep wildlife and air travel safe. They fix fences, trap animals, and even use pyrotechnics to disperse animals, but this week, they can add show dog tracking to their list.