A United Airlines pilot adopted a puppy after it was abandoned at a California airport following its trip from China.
The owner of the six-month-old German shepherd did not have the proper documents when he arrived at San Francisco International Airport in August, opting to leave the dog behind while he continued his trip to New York.
The airline said in a statement that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was concerned about the validity of the owner’s documents. The agency would not allow the dog to enter the country, citing strict rules about animals arriving from high-risk countries for rabies.
The dog would either be euthanized upon returning to China or be put down locally, according to an airline representative.
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But United Airlines called on the CDC to reconsider its decision about the dog.
The agency granted the pooch a reprieve, but required it to quarantine for four months.
The dog, who the airline named Polaris after its business class, remained at the airport where it slept in an office and was fed treats.
Polaris was later flown first class to the Los Angeles quarantine station.
United asked the San Francisco SPCA animal shelter to help find a home for the dog but requested that the animal be placed with an employee of the airline.
“We really wanted him to go to someone in our United family, because of how much our team rallied around him,” an airline representative said in a statement.
The SPCA received 35 applications for Polaris before ultimately matching the dog with Capt. William Dale, a seven-year pilot who had recently moved his family to San Francisco.
The airline held an adoption party for Polaris at the San Francisco airport on Dec. 15 and donated $5,000 to the SPCA.
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“United’s Customer Service team took on quite a challenge to ensure Polaris would be safe, healthy, and find a loving home,” SPCA Chief of Rescue and Welfare Lisa Feder said in a statement.
“We were honored that United called the SF SPCA to facilitate this adoption because of our knowledge and expertise in adoptions, as well as nearly 155 years of offering care and protection to pets. We’re grateful that we can celebrate with them today, and for their $5,000 donation that will help to save lives year-round.”