|The Search for Paco - Dog Lost By Delta Airlines - Continues|
Sharon Seltzer - care2.com
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May 26, 2010
Volunteers in Mexico City were on the ground combing the streets within 24 hours of being notified about the disappearance of Paco - the homeless dog rescued by a college couple visiting Puerto Vallarta and then lost by Delta Airlines while he was being transported to the U.S. His disappearance has created an Internet sensation that has animal lovers calling for action against the airlines.
A group of 15 - 20 individual animal advocates and an animal protection organization called Happy Tails Acapulco have been on the dog's trail since May 9. They stay in close contact with each other and have developed a strategy to find Paco.
Josiah Allen and his girlfriend Erin Docking found the little stray dog on a beach in Puerto Vallarta in early May. They fell in love with the white pup and decided to take him home with them. They took Paco to a local veterinarian where he received the necessary vaccinations to allow him to enter the U.S. and they completed the required paperwork. The first leg of their trip home went well, but once Allen and Docking switched from AeroMexico to Delta Airlines in Mexico City, a series of mistakes occurred that ultimately led to the disappearance of the dog.
Marna Rojas is an American who has lived in Mexico for the past 22 years. She is one of the founders of Happy Tails Acapulco, which is the only animal rescue and animal welfare organization in Mexico City - a metropolis of more than 1 million inhabitants and an estimated 5 million homeless animals. Rojas and a small band of animal lovers have been the force behind the effort to find Paco. David Valdes is one of those volunteers. He normally helps rescue and find homes for the street animals in Mexico City, but now he is leading the neighborhood search for Paco. Rojas has focused her attention on getting answers from Delta Airlines.
These are the facts both Valdes and Rojas have uncovered about Paco's disappearance.
"Paco was loaded onto the luggage conveyer belt and moved to a vehicle used for transporting luggage from the terminal to the planes. Aboard this vehicle, an 'accident' occurred and Paco's kennel fell from the vehicle. Upon impact with the pavement, en-route to the plane, the kennel door opened and Paco managed to 'escape' running onto the tarmac," said Rojas.
"An immediate dispatch of a group of airport employees failed to recover Paco, who also, in his altered state attempted to bite one of the employees. He continued to run, and eventually escaped through an opening in the fence surrounding the airport, and into the adjacent neighborhood," continued Rojas.
Although Delta Airlines told Happy Tails Acapulco they would post fliers about the missing dog, they have not followed through. So the rescue group took the initiative and sent out mass e-mails to animal advocates in the area. That email also included a You-tube video with photos of Paco.
They contacted government facilities called Anti-Rabico in each neighborhood surrounding the airport and gave them pictures of the dog. Volunteers have also handed out and posted more than 3,000 fliers, printed t-shirts with Paco's face and a large banner. They are trying to raise money to buy space on a billboard, as well.
On May 22, Paco's story was highlighted in a citywide march for animal rights called the Peaceful Demonstration. The march was widely covered by the media and Rojas hoped more people would see Paco's face.
Valdes explained the demonstration was organized to gather support for a law to protect animals from abuse. There are currently no laws in Mexico to do this. Animals, especially street dogs, are routinely abused and tortured and there are no laws to prosecute their abusers.
Valdes is hopeful that Paco will be rescued. He said, "Paco has been seen in a parking lot by an area with many apartments. He has teamed up with two dog buddies. It is only a matter of time before we can catch him."
Rojas is also confident that Paco will be reunited with Josiah. He has been communicating with her organization and through a Facebook page called Delta Loses Dog. This ordeal has taken a toll on the college student and unfortunately some passionate Facebook fans have taken out their frustrations over Paco's disappearance on him.
Rojas is still trying to get all of the answers from Delta Airlines and is asking to see surveillance videos from the airport. She is also asking for an American based animal welfare organization to step forward and deliver the Care2 petition to the Delta Airlines corporate office in Atlanta. Click here for information on how to contact Happy Tails Acapulco and support their efforts.
Rojas said, "I am most hopeful that we will recover Paco. I have worked in animal rescue for over 20 years, and have witnessed many miracles in the recovery of lost animals. If Paco is found I will make every effort to return him safely to Josiah."