Puppy Abandoned at SFO Airport Gets Happy Ending When Pilot Steps Up to Adopt Him


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Just in time for a happy ending, a puppy abandoned at customs at the San Francisco International airport has been adopted by a caring airline pilot after the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and United Airlines worked in tandem to find the confused canine a forever home.

Earlier this month, a young dog named Polaris arrived at SFO on an international flight from China with its owner, but due to difficulties with the animal’s paperwork, the puppy’s owner decided to continue on without him to New York. It’s hard to believe but there you have it.

german shepherd puppy

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

The SPCA, a well-known animal welfare organization around the globe, and United Airlines then scrambled to try to find a forever home for the pup as quickly as possible. As it turned out, Captain William Dale, a pilot with United, and his family ultimately stepped up to adopt him.

“I only hope that we can do half as good a job of taking care of him as the United staff did,” Dale was quoted as saying to the Washington Post. “More than one employee said to me, ‘You better take good care of him … or else.’ There was even a wag of a finger!”

german shepherd puppy

United Airlines

According to the San Francisco SPCA, the airline worked to make sure that Polaris, a 6-month-old German shepherd mix, met the requirements for his entry into the U.S., which includes a quarantine period. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the group that administers the rules for animals coming from high-risk countries for rabies (China’s on the list), had refused to allow Polaris entry based on his paperwork.

“The CDC had some concern about the validity of the paperwork,” explained Vincent Passafiume, the airline’s director of customer service. “It was part of our responsibility, too. From the moment Polaris landed in our care, our entire SFO United team cared for him 24/7 until we were able to get permission to keep him safely in the U.S.,” he added. “It’s a great feeling to see this story come full circle and that Polaris will have a loving home with United Airlines Captain Dale and his family – just in time for the holidays.”

german shepherd puppy

San Francisco Airport

United observed Polaris’s adoption with a fun little party at the airport on December 15 and gave a $5,000 donation to the San Francisco SPCA “to support their year-round lifesaving work helping animals who are ill, injured, homeless, or in need of an advocate,” according to a press release from them.

Lisa Feder, the San Francisco SPCA’s chief of rescue and welfare, noted: “United’s customer service team took on quite a challenge to ensure Polaris would be safe, healthy and find a loving home.”

It looks like they did a terrific job of it!

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