After a 10-hour flight from Spain to Toronto, a rescue Podenco named Crystal discovered that someone had failed to properly secure her crate, and she was off:
Over the next 12 hours, a highly coordinated search ensued, replete with CCTV security, thermal infrared cameras and a call for help to the Falcon Environment Services, the airport wildlife team. All arrivals and departures were suspended for at least an hour on Tuesday morning as staff searched high and low for Crystal.
Finding her wasn’t the issue, Chris Stubbs said — the hardest part was being able to catch her. “There were times where it just looked like a white blur running down the taxiway,” Stubbs said
Podencos are close relatives of the greyhound, native to Spain, and were popularly adopted as hunting dogs, which explains their speed and agility.
At two points, Crystal appeared on the runway as aircraft were landing, forcing pilots to quickly abort.
By the 12th hour, Crystal had worn herself out and crawled under a truck to rest, giving [animal control specialist Keith] Everett the rare opportunity to crawl close and slip a leash over her head. Rather than rush her out, he stayed under the truck with the scared, exhausted pup and tried to gain her trust by talking and giving her treats.
The pandemic saved her, by the way. At full capacity, Pearson has hundreds of takeoffs and landings every day. The airport would have had to use a much quicker and more permanent method to protect aviation safety in that case.
Crystal now lives with her adoptive family in New Brunswick.