TAMPA, Fla. - A dog who was abandoned at Tampa International Airport is in a better -- and safer -- spot.
The good Samaritan who rescued the dog said it appears to be a 14-year-old Shih Tzu mix and goes by the name ‘Bama.’ The dog was supposed to be getting on a plane to Miami Monday morning, but when the woman carrying him found out she needed to provide his vaccine information and would have to pay a fee, she apparently left the dog behind and got on the plane alone.
"She left the counter and said she’d make other arrangements," Tampa Airport Police Chief Charlie Vazquez said. "She came back but before she came back, she kind of dropped the leash and walked off, left the dog on his own in the airport."
Vazquez says it’s the first time he can recall something like that happening, noting that abandoning a dog in a busy airport is obviously the last thing anyone should do.
"It's dangerous to leave a dog at the airport," he continued. "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."
'Bama,' not long after his rescue from the airport.
That's exactly what airport police did. They contacted Corrin Smith of VIP Rescue, where Bama is now being taken care of. Smith says what happened was cruel.
"It's disgusting. It's absolutely disgusting and unacceptable," said Smith.
Smith rushed to Tampa International Airport as soon as she got the call. The dog had been abandoned near the American Airlines ticket counters. Instead of calling someone to come pick up the dog, or asking for help, police say the woman quickly discarded him.
Smith says it’s obvious the animal's neglect started way before that decision.
"He was in a really bad shape. He's matted, he's got ear infections, he's got his teeth are infected, he's got a tumor on his back," she said.
The elderly dog is in desperate need of being groomed and getting medical care, things smith hopes can happen over the next few days so he can start healing.
"And we'll take care of all of that, and I think he'll probably live with me for the rest of his life," she said.
Tampa airport police are also working with the state attorney's office on the possibility of bringing charges against the woman.
"You’ve got to have your records for rabies and things like that," Chief Vazquez added. "Have those records when you come to the airport. Have them in hand. Check with your airlines; they’ll let you know what the procedures are so that when you get here, you’re not surprised."