Dog Disrupts Airport For 12 Hours


A rescue dog now enjoying its new life in Canada likely owes that life to COVID-19 after it got loose at Canada’s busiest airport last week. According to the National Post, Crystal, a white Spanish podenco, a particularly speedy breed related to the greyhound, led airport personnel on a 12-hour high-speed chase that shut down operations for an hour and forced at least two aircraft to go around. As dramatic as that sounds, Pearson International Airport in Toronto isn’t that busy these days and that likely gave the pursuers more latitude. Had the airport been at its normal tempo, Crystal most likely would have been shot because of the undeniable hazard she would have presented.

As it turned out, Crystal essentially took free rein of the airport after she got out of her crate following a 10-hour flight from Spain. “Boy, could she run,” said airport falconer Keith Everett, who said he spent hours cruising the taxiways and runways trying to catch her. He finally slipped a leash on the exhausted dog after it crawled under a truck. The dog was none the worse for wear beyond a damaged foot pad and is getting to know its new family in New Brunswick.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Waiting for the periodic “Dog Escapes Family; Returns To Airport” articles. It’s bound to happen. That’s what I do whenever I get loose.

  2. That airport is going to the dogs!
    Several decades ago while on a trip guiding a 727 across the US, we had a 45 minute turn at ORD. A passenger with a “seeing eye dog” was going to complete the flight with us to the East coast and needed the dog to relieve itself. In the middle of summer and parked at one of the Charlie gates, I donned my hat and coat and volunteered to take this sweet dog on a walkaround of the aircraft while it was being serviced. With a bright sun, sunglasses and wearing my four stripes, it must have been quite a sight for the waiting passengers looking out at the ramp and seeing a German Shepherd walking a Captain around his aircraft. Our inflight crew dealt with some interesting comments from the boarding passengers and everyone had a good laugh.

    • That’s a truly great story, and reminds me of this classic joke:

      Passengers on a small plane are waiting for the flight to leave. They’re getting a little impatient, but the airport staff assures them the pilots will be there soon, and then the flight can take off.

      Finally the entrance opens, and two men dressed in Pilots’ uniforms walk up the aisle. Both are wearing dark glasses, one is using a guide dog, and the other is tapping his way along the aisle with a white cane.

      Nervous laughter spreads through the cabin, but the men enter the cockpit, the door closes, and the engines start up. The passengers begin glancing nervously around, searching for some sign that this is just a little practical joke. None is forthcoming.

      The plane moves faster and faster down the runway, and the people sitting in the window seats realize they’re headed straight for the water at the edge of the airport territory. As it begins to look as though the plane will plow into the water, panicked screams fill the cabin.

      At that moment, the plane lifts smoothly into the air. The passengers relax and laugh a little sheepishly, and soon all retreat into their magazines, secure in the knowledge that the plane really is in good hands.

      Meanwhile, in the cockpit, the pilot turns to the co-pilot and says, “You know, Jim one of these days, they’re gonna scream too late and we’re all gonna die.”


    • Yours reminds me of another story. Dan Rossi was a blind skydiver. He lost his sight to cancer before he was ten but learned to skydive and climb mountains. One day while sitting around at the drop-zone, his buddy noticed a bunch of student jumpers waiting for the pilot next to the Cessna. So they decided to play a little joke on them. Dan went up to the plane, white cane and all, and started off by telling the newbies that he was the PILOT and then started barking orders – “Ok, who’s last out? I want you to sit in that corner!”

      You can read the whole story here:

      Dan has many stories posted about his experiences. His tagline is “Flare when you hear the crickets”. Sadly, he recently passed away from a recurrence of cancer stemming from his decades earlier treatment.

  3. I worked the ramp for Delta Air Lines at ORD from 1970-77. Kennels coming apart, dogs getting loose, animals getting out of their respective cages during flight, etc., were regular occurrences. While transferring baggage to another connecting airline, including a medium size dog, the kennel fell apart in the open Wollard cart behind my tug. I was down in area called “crash alley” between terminals and was busy negotiating traffic. To my surprise, this dog leaped into my cab of my tug. I looked behind me into the cart and saw the kennel had collapsed. This dog had no intention of running around the airport on his own. So, we rolled together to the connecting airplane. When I parked at this gate area in front of “Brand X” airplane, he stayed in the cab until I reassembled the kennel. Then he allowed me to pick him up and place him in the kennel to the surprise of “Brand X” ground-crew. Together, we made his connection.

  4. As a former USAF Airfield Management Specialist and Flight Operations Dispatcher, we had to deal with the animal kingdom on a regular basis. Birds were a constant seasonal threat, and dogs/rabbits/coyotes/humans (Yep, some guy decided to walk onto the runway while a C-131 was arriving. The men I worked with who responded to the tower asking them to investigate a report of this man wandering around the touchdown zone told me the guy was chopped into pieces, and while they combed the area in the pouring rain that evening, their search for his scattered remains concluded with one of them finding the man’s face lying on the runway) could be located along the runway as six foot long smashed ribbons of carrion that we had to scoop off the concrete. It wasn’t the most glamorous aspect of our job.