In September, an international traveler made their way from Asia to the San Francisco International Airport with a tiny puppy in tow. Then, after having subjected the pup to a 12-hour plane ride and all the craziness that traveling entails, they were unable to provide the proper paperwork to customs.
But, instead of doing their best to get things straightened out, they left his leash in the hands of United Airlines employees and continued on their trek without him.
The sweet Shepard mix was only six-months-old when he made the arduous journey from China to the United States. But entering the U.S. isn’t as straightforward as simply enduring a tedious travel day (or two). Animals arriving in the United States from another country, especially ones with a high risk of rabies, must present proper documentation and then wait out a quarantine period.
But the pup’s travel companion did not have the proper paperwork to grant him access to the country.
When Polaris was denied entry into the United States, his former family decided to ditch him at the airport and to continue their journey to New York without him. Instead of straightening out the problem, his owner left him all alone in a crowded, chaotic airport.
Perhaps they didn’t understand the circumstances, or they didn’t care, but leaving him at the airport meant he would eventually be euthanized.
But United Airlines employees weren’t going to let that happen. They petitioned the CDC for permission for Polaris to stay in the United States, vowing to be his humans until he was ready to be released from quarantine. They stepped up to sort it out when his owner wasn’t willing to do the same.
During deliberations, Polaris had to live on premises. They made him extremely comfortable, and a dedicated crew of dog parents walked, fed, and kept him company.
Fortunately, permission was granted, and the young pup was able to stay in the states. But that meant that Polaris, who they named after the airline’s business class, would have to stay in quarantine for four months.
He was transported to the Los Angeles quarantine station, and then all there was left to do was wait.
As the time passed, over 30 people filled out the forms to be his new forever family. So the airline employees turned to the San Francisco SPCA to help them narrow down the applicants.
Their only specification was that he had to be adopted by a United Airlines employee, and the SPCA was able to narrow it down to five.
Ultimately, it was William Dale, a pilot who had recently moved to San Francisco with his wife and two kids, whose name was chosen out of a hat. He and his family were thrilled and couldn’t wait to see Polaris sniffing and scampering around in their new backyard.
To celebrate Polaris finally leaving quarantine, the airline hosted an adoption party in one of their terminals and even made a $5,000 donation to the San Francisco SPCA.