United Airlines Pilot Adopts Puppy Abandoned At San Francisco Airport By Passenger

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Taylor Giles Contributor
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A United Airlines pilot on Dec. 15 adopted a puppy who was abandoned by an international passenger at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in late August.

The passenger, who had flown in from China, did not have the correct paperwork for importing the puppy and had to leave him behind, according to The Washington Post. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would not allow the puppy inside the U.S. because animals coming from China are on a high-risk list for rabies.

The CDC initially told United employees the dog would either have to fly back to China and be euthanized there, or else he’d be euthanized locally, WaPo reported. However, the staff pushed back, and the CDC granted the airline permission to care for the puppy on SFO grounds for a four-month quarantine period.

During his stay at the airport, United staff named the puppy Polaris after the airline’s business class, the outlet reported. The airline converted an office into a room just for Polaris, including 24/7 care, a dog bed, toys, treats and regular walks.

“Over 50 employees have visited him,” the director of customer service for United, Vincent Passafiume, said, according to WaPo. “He has become a celebrity at SFO, for sure.”

The airline contacted the San Francisco SPCA to help find Polaris a new home, WaPo continued. United instituted just one requirement: only airline workers could apply for adoption. (RELATED: Dog Dumped For Being ‘Gay’ Gets Rescued By Gay Couple)

“We really wanted him to go to someone in our United family, because of how much our team rallied around him,” Passafiume said.

Eventually, United pilot William Dale was chosen to adopt Polaris into his family, according to WaPo. The airline threw Polaris an adoption party Dec. 15 at one of the gates at SFO.

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