An east coast dog that went missing in Ontario for nearly two days after being placed on a wrong flight has been found.
The dog’s owners say Cooper — a golden Labradoodle — was supposed to be flown on a WestJet flight from Halifax to Deer Lake, N.L., on Wednesday to stay with family while they headed to Jamaica for a wedding.
But the dog was somehow placed on a flight to Hamilton instead and broke away at the airport when an employee took it outside for a bathroom break.
WestJet apologized for the mishap and flew the dog’s owners to Hamilton on Thursday where they joined a search for Cooper.
That search lasted more than 24 hours until the dog was spotted Friday morning.
“It’s the most overwhelming feeling of happiness,” Chelsea Simon, one of the dog’s owners, said shortly after finding the dog around 9 a.m.
The dog was wet, dirty and starving, but otherwise healthy, she said.
Hans Ashton, a relative of the dog’s other owner, Terri Pittman, was out all night with the pair and scores of other searchers.
They scoured the fields near the Hamilton airport and had help from two pet rescue groups, Healing Hearts and The Dream Team, that had joined the search and helped set up traps with food inside, Ashton said.
More recruits were en route to help as word of the missing dog spread quickly on social media. One of the search and rescue groups had reached out to Dog Tales, a dog and horse rescue organization north of Toronto with experience tracking down lost dogs.
Dog Tales planned to send several staffers down to perform an aerial search using a drone, said the organization’s spokesperson, Clare Forndran.
But that help ultimately wasn’t required.
“He ended up in a fenced area by the airport and we had some locals here who surrounded him and made sure he didn’t leave the area,” Ashton said. “He was hiding behind some crates and Terri and Chelsea went up to him and he recognized them right away and came to them.”
A spokeswoman for WestJet said the airline has offered to pay Cooper’s vet bill and will work on getting the dog and his owners back home.
“Our primary focus was reuniting Cooper and his owner,” Lauren Stewart said. “In the days ahead, we will review our procedures in an effort to determine what happened and make changes if needed to prevent future, similar occurrences.”