Dog takes flight after plane lands at SFO

A dog that may have been restless after a long flight bolted from Continental Airlines handlers, jetted across the bustling lanes of U.S. Highway 101 and disappeared into a nearby neighborhood after arriving on a flight from Texas on Thursday night.

The search continued Friday for Sassy, the 4-year-old German shepherd mix who was reportedly hot from the weather and none too happy about a lengthy plane trip when she fled from her cage, according to Ana Mallea, the dog’s owner.

Mallea said airline officials told her an employee had left Sassy’s cage open and unattended in the cargo area. The 40-year-old Pleasant Hill resident said she was shocked when she arrived at the airport to pick up the family dog and was told it had disappeared.

“I’m just mortified because with this heat wave coming along and with exhaustion from traveling for all that time. … I’m worried about how long she can go without food and water,” Mallea said.

An airline employee who was concerned about the dog’s health in the 90-degree heat apparently opened Sassy’s crate to give her water and allow her to exercise, Mallea was told. At first, Sassy did not budge, but the minute the employee left her unattended, she bolted, scampering across Highway 101 and into a nearby field, according to airline officials.

Peninsula animal-control officials and airline employees searched for the dog well into Thursday night and throughout Friday. A resident of a nearby neighborhood reportedly saw the dog Friday morning and called the Peninsula Humane Society, but by the time officials responded the dog had disappeared, spokesman Scott Delucchi said.

“The neighbor described the dog as a little skittish-looking,” Delucchi said.

Continental officials said they are investigating the dog’s escape and are offering a $500 reward for anyone who returns her.

“In the meantime, we are leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to recover the dog,” said Susannah Thurston, spokeswoman for Continental Airlines.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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