Flights were delayed yesterday at La Guardia airport in New York as authorities tried to coax a frightened puppy off the runway. The puppy, named Byrdie, broke free of her crate as she was being loaded onto a plane and attempted to flee.
"We can't take off because there is apparently a loose dog running around on the runway," passenger Robert Lund tweeted. "How did he get through security?"
Byrdie was being loaded onto a Delta plane when she managed to make her escape and ran out onto the runway. Planes had to immediately stop in order to avoid hitting the puppy, and airport traffic controllers were able to successfully divert traffic on the tarmac.
Port Authority's efforts to catch the puppy were fruitless, and Byrdie's owner, Austin Varner, was taken off her flight and driven to where the puppy was. "She was just standing there," Varner told the New York Post. "She didn't want to come to them, but she came right to me and we got her."
Varner recounted her ordeal for The Post. A Delta employee said, "We need to speak to you off the plane. Your dog escaped. We have got her kind of surrounded, but we can't catch her."
As soon as Byrdie saw her owner, she immediately came forward, allowing authorities to put her back into her crate and successfully load her onto the plane. The entire ordeal delayed flights by 20 minutes, though passengers did not complain.
A Purdue professor, Gene Rhodes, led a study on the dangers of stray animals on airport runways in Indiana. "Just about every pilot we talked to at these airports said that during a landing they've had to pull up to avoid hitting an animal on the runway. With the size of planes using these airports, hitting a rabbit could flip a plane," he told ScienceDaily.
One of the biggest animal threats to New York airports is geese. New York has had to perform mass killings of the animals in order to help deter the runway mishaps caused by geese.