Paula Rodriguez had travelled to Atlanta, Georgia, from the Caribbean last Friday when she was denied entry into the country by border officials.
“They told me very kindly, ‘We’re so sorry, but you don’t meet the requirements to enter the US, you’ve been denied entry, and you need to be sent back home to Santo Domingo’,” Rodriguez told local television station Atlanta News First.
Ms Rodriguez was told she’d need to spend the night in a detention centre, which meant she was separated from her dog, Maia. She’d rescued the dog from the streets, and has had her since the animal was one month old.
Returning to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport the following day, Ms Rodriguez discovered that the dog was missing.
“I was like, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t get on this plane, I don’t know where my dog is’,” she said. “I was crying, I had panic attacks on the plane.”
She added that she was told she had to board the plane as US Border Control told her that legally she wasn’t allowed to stay in the airport for more than 24 hours.
After arriving back in the Dominican Republic, Ms Rodriguez called Delta a number of times. A staff member contacted her two days later, confirming that the dog was missing after breaking out of its kennel, she said.
“Without food, without water, she must be scared,” said Ms Rodriguez.
The Independent has contacted Delta Air Lines for comment.
Andrew Gobeil, director of communications and public affairs at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, told Atlanta News First that staff at the world’s busiest airport will try to capture the pet if they see it but so far they “have not encountered the dog, but will continue to remain vigilant should she appear.”