Prize-winning show dog vanishes at airport before flight: 'A horrible ordeal'

A prize-winning show dog went missing at an Atlanta airport over the weekend after apparently breaking out of its crate before a flight overseas.

Gale, a 22-month-old American Staffordshire terrier, was scheduled to fly to Amsterdam on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and had cleared security in her crate at Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta three hours before the flight, her owner, Floris van Essen, told Atlanta's NBC affiliate WXIA.

Gale, a show dog from the Netherlands, has been missing since Saturday after breaking free from her crate at an Atlanta airport.

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But about 10 minutes before boarding, crews discovered her crate was empty.

The dog's handlers were told to get on the plane while airport employees worked to locate her. As of Tuesday, though, the dog remained missing, an airport representative told TODAY.

"As you can imagine, this is just a horrible ordeal," van Essen, who had flown home to the Netherlands before his pup, told WXIA.

The station reported several pilots have spotted Gale from the air during takeoff or landing, but no one has been able to corral her.

Gale was in the U.S. for a competition in Kentucky.

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"KLM expresses its sincerest regrets and is actively working with the Atlanta Airport to search for the dog," the airline said in a statement to WSB.

Van Essen said the dog is microchipped and anyone who sees her can reach out on PawBoost, a website that helps find lost pets.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Having a pet in the home can actually lower a child’s likelihood of developing related allergies by as much as 33 percent. Children exposed early on to animals tend to develop stronger immune systems overall.

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