People are abandoning pets at airports

In the past few weeks, three dogs and a tortoise arrived with their travel companions at various airports across the country. By all appearances, the pets were going to fly off with their humans. But at some point between check-in and boarding, their owners decided to leave the animals behind.

One dog was found tied to a pole outside the airport in Des Moines. The tortoise was discovered in a restroom at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas. A puppy was abandoned by a departure gate at the same airport. Another dog was surrendered to airline employees at Charlotte Douglas International, bringing to mind an incident last summer when a young dog was handed over to airline workers in San Francisco.

“This is the wrong thing to do, morally and criminally,” said Joe Stafford, director of animal services with the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, which assisted in the rescue and care of the pit bull that the staff named Allie. “There are a lot of resources that can help owners in any given situation.”

Reports of these orphaned animals surfacing in such quick succession raise an alarming question: How often are people deserting their pets at airports?

In each of the aforementioned episodes, the travel community jumped in to help the animals in distress. Passengers and airline personnel joined forces with law enforcement and animal rescue operations to ensure the safety of the dogs — Allie, Penny, Polaris and Baby Girl — and Boeing the tortoise.

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