ATLANTA — A lost dog who went missing at the Atlanta airport moments before she was set to fly to the Netherlands after competing in a dog show has been found!
The Atlanta airport tweeted that Gayle has been found.
"Kudos to #ATL’s Ops team for its effort in bringing her back...," the airport tweeted.
Wildlife biologists with Hartsfield-Jackson said that Gayle was in "excellent" condition when they found her.
"This is a rare occurrence, normally the dogs stay in their kennels and we don't have them out on the airfield," said wildlife biologist Steven Boyd. "It wasn't until Sunday afternoon that we saw the dog on the airfield and then on Monday morning we saw the dog in the rock quarry -- that's where we ended up apprehending the dog, so to say."
Boyd said the airport's rock quarry is positioned between the center complex between two major runways and has a stormwater retention pond. The biologists said they believed Gayle went there in search of water and a quiet place to hide.
"Steve lost his voice last night because he was calling for her," said fellow wildlife biologist Jeff Miller. "Yesterday we were calling and whistling. We had to put ourselves in the mindset of a domesticated animal -- where to go for shelter, get away from the noise and find water."
The team said they used infrared cameras and utilized the help of air traffic controllers, airlines, operations and customs to coax the dog out of her hiding place.
The dog's handler was finally called to the rock quarry to call her out. Boyd said he went through a security clearance and had to be escorted to the site. Even with him there, it took Gayle about 20 minutes to come to his call.
"Seeing her today safe and sound and back with her owner is very rewarding," Boyd said.
Floris van Essen said his dog Gayle and another dog were bound for home in Amsterdam after being showed at an event in the U.S. over the weekend.
Van Essen said Gayle was secure in her crate and had gone through security nearly three hours before the flight was set to depart. But 10 minutes before boarding, the people handling her were asked over the terminal speaker to talk to airport representatives. That's when van Essen said they were told that when crews went to load the kennel, it was empty.
The handlers were asked to board the flight anyway, but were promised airport staff would continue to search for Gayle.
"As you can imagine, this is just a horrible ordeal," van Essen told 11Alive in a message.
Airport staff had been searching for Gayle - a 22-month-old Red-white American Staffordshire Terrier - since. Multiple pilots reported seeing Gayle in thickets surrounding the airport in the day since she went missing, but searchers had not been able to reach her.
That all change, Monday, when Gayle finally sniffed out a bait, allowing airport operations teams to find her and reunite her with her handler.
LOVE PETS? Follow K9Kait for more animal stories
MORE FROM K9KAIT