On Monday 29th, a senior dog was abandoned at the ticket counter of Tampa International Airport following discussions with the owner in regards to providing covid vaccination proof for the pup.
A good samaritan noticed the disheveled dog had been left unattended with no owner in sight. They believe the dog to be a Shih Tzu mixed breed at around 14 years of age. He also goes by the name Bama.
According to airport staff, Bama was intended to be boarding a flight to Miami with his owner on Monday morning. However, the woman that had carried him into the airport was told, when she reached the ticket counter, that she needed to provide covid vaccine information for the senior dog before being allowed to board. If she was unable to provide said proof she would be required to pay a fee. Apparently, she then decided to leave the dog behind and board the plane on her own.
Police Chief Charlie Vazquez at Tampa Airport described how she had told staff she would make other arrangements and then walked away from the counter. She apparently did return, but before doing so had simply dropped the dog’s lead and walked away. Leaving Bama completely alone in the middle of a busy airport.
Vazquez also explained that this was the first time an incident of this kind had occured during his time working at Tampa airport, noting that it is dangerous to leave a dog unattended at an airport and is the last thing any owner should even think of doing.
He goes on to say that the number of cars coming in and out of the airport poses a great threat to unattended dogs. “The dogs can go out there and get hit by cars, which has happened before. We don’t want it to happen again,” Vazquez told Fox13. He also highlighted that Bama’s owner should have sought to contact a reputable rescue group who would be able to take care of the dog in her absence.
As the owner had failed to do so, airport staff took it upon themselves to contact a rescue that would be able to retrieve Bama. The rescue that responded was VIP Rescue, which sent out Corrin Smith to collect the abandoned pup and take him to a safe place to be taken care of. Smith described the incident as cruel.
“It’s disgusting. It’s absolutely disgusting and unacceptable,” said Smith.
Smith had rushed straight to the airport upon receiving the message from the rescue about Bama’s situation. He had been abandoned next to the American Airlines ticket counter. Police say the woman was quick to discard her dog instead of asking for help.
According to Smith, Bama was matted, had a tumor in his back, suffered from teeth and ear infection, and was generally in really bad shape. He was in desperate need of a groomer, and medical care. Smith feels the level of neglect evident in Bama’s conditions shows that the cruelty started long before the decision to abandon him.
Smith intends to provide all of the health care and grooming Bama needs to start his healing journey. “I think he’ll probably live with me for the rest of his life,” she said.
Tampa Internation Airport Police are currently working alongside the state attorney’s office to decide how to move forward and discuss the possibility of bringing charged against the woman responsible for the neglect and abandonment. They are aware of who the owner is and have the necessary details to bring the charges forward.
Chief Vazquez also explained the necessary procedure any owner should take when planning to travel with a pet, which includes providing records of rabies and other vaccinations. These records are a legal requirement at the airport and should be readily available on arrival. He also advises that passengers check with their individual airlines as to any additional checks or procedures that may be required so as not to be surprised when the day comes.