Dogs & Laws

Senior Dog Abandoned by Owner at Tampa Airport Ticket Counter

When a dog owner learned that she’d need veterinary shot records and would be required to pay a fee for her 14-year old Shih Tzu mix, she simply dropped the leash at the airport ticket counter and boarded a flight without him… and it might turn out to be the best thing she could have done for him.

A 14-year old Shih Tzu mix named ‘Bama will finally be getting the love and care he deserves. His owner’s final act of abuse was abandoning him at the busy Tampa International Airport, in front of the ticket counters, surrounded by strangers.

The dog’s owner was at the American Airlines ticket counter on Monday morning to check-in for a flight to Miami. When she approached the counter holding the senior dog in her arms, she was informed that, in order to fly, she would need to provide ‘Bama’s veterinary records and pay a pet fee.

She told the ticket agent she’d make other arrangements for the dog and got her boarding pass. Apparently, her other arrangements entailed simply walking a few feet away and dropping the leash before continuing to her gate without him.

“It’s dangerous to leave a dog at the airport,” Tampa Airport Police Chief Charlie Vazquez said. “We have the doors that open and close; the dogs can go out there and get hit by cars, which has happened before. We don’t want it to happen again. She should have found a reputable rescue group and contacted them.”

Airport Police contacted VIP Rescue. Volunteer and foster dog mom Corrin Smith rushed to the airport to rescue the dog. Smith said it was immediately evident that ‘Bama’s neglect started long before he was abandoned at the airport. The 14-year old dog was severely matted, had ear infections, was in dire need of dental care, and had a tumor growing on his back.

VIP Rescue will provide necessary grooming and medical care. Smith offered to provide love and companionship for the rest of ‘Bama’s life.

In the meantime, Tampa Airport Police are working with the state attorney’s office to determine if charges will be brought against the dog’s owner.

Before flying with pets, it’s important to review the requirements and limitations put in place by your chosen airline. All airlines require proof of vaccines, an airline-approved carrier, and a pet fee, at the minimum.

RELATED: Traveling With Your Furry Friend on a Plane? Here’s What You Need to Know

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