A SPANISH dog on its way to a new home in Canada caused chaos when it went on the run and forced one of North America’s busiest airports to close down for an hour.
And it wasn’t until 12 hours later that staff at Toronto Pearson Airport were finally able to track down and catch the rescue podenco called Crystal that at one point caused all departures and arrivals to be postponed.
She was one of four of the hunting dogs – also known as Warren Hounds – being rehomed by the Greyhounds, Galgos and Podencos of Atlantic Canada association (GGPAC).
While all four had reached their final destination safe and sound after a gruelling 12 hour flight, from Spain, Crystal decided to take the opportunity to stretch her legs when their British Airways flight touched down at the busy airport.
Ground crew were taken by surprise when they opened the hold and Crystal shot out and disappeared into the distance.
It is thought that the door to her travel kennel had not been closed properly.
This caused a problem for the airport authorities, who could not risk a dog on the loose so close to the runway, so flights were delayed while the hunting dog became the hunted.
Speaking to CBC news Rhonda Martins of GGPAC said: “They had nighttime vision cameras and everything to track her.
“I ended up getting security clearance to go out on the tarmac and one of the guys drove me around for hours and it actually started to rain,” Martins said. “It rained so bad. We had hoped that she’d get cover, but she just kept running the whole time.”
Eventually Martins had to return to her hotel to look after Crystal’s three travel mates, with airport staff promising to keep up the search.
Over the next 12 hours a high-tech organised search – guided by watchers in the airport’s control tower – swung into action.
Aviation safety officer Chris Stubbs kept a watchful eye out using security and thermal cameras and caught sight of Crystal several times. But catching her proved to be a much more difficult task.
“There were times where it just looked like a white blur running down the taxiway,” Stubbs told CBC.
It was not until the airport’s wildlife team – Falcon Environmental Services – got involved that Crystal was finally run to ground.
But even they had their work cut out. Falconer Keith Everett drove up and down the runway trying to get close enough to collar Crystal.
He said: “Boy, could she run.” In the end he had to simply sit it out and let the podenco – a breed renowned for its stamina – tire herself out.
She eventually went to ground under a truck, and Kenny was able to gain her trust with treats and a few friendly words.
He then took Crystal to her new owners, Doug and Karen Balser, who had agreed to give the rescued hound a home in Canada, 6,000 kilometres from her Spanish homeland.