United Airlines pilot adopts abandoned dog at San Francisco airport

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This lucky dog ​​made a smooth landing.

A 6-month-old German Shepherd was adopted by a United Airlines pilot after being abandoned at San Francisco International Airport, where he arrived from China in late August.

The owner, who did not have the necessary documents, abandoned the poor dog and traveled to New York, according to the Washington Post.

“The (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) were concerned about the validity of the paperwork,” airline representative Vincent Passafiume told the newspaper.

“It was also part of our responsibility.”

The CDC would not allow the dog into the country due to its strict rules about bringing animals from high-risk countries for rabies.

“The initial options were very bleak. He would either be euthanized on his way back to China or slaughtered locally,” Passafiume explained of the pup’s plight.

Polaris, a 6-month-old German Shepherd adopted by a pilot.
Polaris seen enjoying a chew toy at the airport.
united airlines
Newly adopted Polaris, a 6 month old German Shepherd
The dog spent four months in quarantine before being put up for adoption.
united airlines

But United did not relent and urged the agency to reconsider its decision on the dog, which the airline named Polaris – in honor of its business class.

The CDC granted the visitor an extension but ordered a four-month quarantine, which Polaris underwent like the canine equivalent of Tom Hanks’ stranded character in “The Terminal.”

Polaris spent time at the airport, where he slept in an office and enjoyed the treats and entertainment, in addition to his newfound fame among travelers.

Despite its business class moniker, Polaris was later flown first class to the Los Angeles quarantine station, the Washington Post reported.

“He was so good the whole way down. He didn’t bark at all,” Passafiume told the newspaper.

Newly adopted Polaris, a 6 month old German Shepherd
San Francisco SPCA staff helped put Polaris under Captain William Dale.
united airlines
United threw an adoption party for Polaris before settling in with her new family.
united airlines

Meanwhile, airline officials asked the San Francisco SPCA for help with the adoption process — but were told the dog could only be placed with a company employee.

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

After receiving 35 applications, the SPCA chose Captain William Dale, a seven-year veteran who had recently moved to San Francisco with his family.

“I just hope we can do as good a job looking after him as the United team did,” Dale told the outlet.

“More than one employee has said to me, ‘You’d better take good care of him…or not.’ There was even a wave of the finger,” added the pilot.

On December 15, United threw Polaris an adoption party in Terminal 3 attended by the SFO comfort dog team, who feasted on cupcakes and an assortment of doggie treats.

“United’s customer service team took on a huge challenge to ensure Polaris was safe, healthy and found a loving home,” said Lisa Feder, head of rescue and welfare for the San Francisco SPCA.

Newly adopted Polaris, a 6 month old German Shepherd
Polaris at its new home in San Francisco with Captain William Dale.
William Dale

“We are honored that United has called upon the SF SPCA to facilitate this adoption because of our knowledge and experience in adoptions, as well as nearly 155 years of providing pet care and protection,” she said in a statement.

“We are grateful to be able to celebrate with them today and for their $5,000 donation, which will help save lives all year round,” added Feder.

After the adoption was completed last week, Passafiume said, “It’s a great feeling to see this story close and to see that Polaris will have a loving home with Captain Dale and his United Airlines family – just in time for the holidays.”

Thinking of the newly adopted Polaris, he told the Washington Post, “I’m going to miss him terribly.”