It’s easy to see the happiness on Christie Pennell’s face. Thursday she was finally back together with her dog, Brady who escaped her kennel at Tampa International Airport two long and agonizing weeks ago.
“It’s been a nightmare I couldn’t wait to wake up from, it’s been awful,” Pennell said.
Back on October 11, the 4-year-old pooch was supposed to be on a Delta Airlines flight headed to Bermuda. Instead, Brady chewed through the metal bars of her crate and bolted across the tarmac.
Since then, an army of complete strangers has stepped up to search for the missing canine.
They’ve been posting flyers in the area, checking out reported sightings, even hiring search dogs to try and track Brady’s scent.
But in the end, the breakthrough happened where the whole ordeal started, at Tampa International Airport.
The Hillsborough County Animal Control set fresh traps on the property Wednesday night, baited with cat food.
“So this morning at 7:45 we get a call that they had the dog in the trap, and we were like, ‘Oh my goodness, you’re kidding us,'” said Animal Control Director of Field Operations Roger Mills.
As soon as Pennell got the news, she raced to get Brady.
“She kind of looked at me and she just got right up and started jumping on me,” Pennell said. “Her mouth’s all mangled but she’s trying to lick me, and just, she hasn’t let me leave her side since. It was the best moment in the whole world.”
Brady survived 15 days on her own with alligators, coyotes, rattlesnakes, and clearly not a lot of food. The canine is down about 17-pounds, has bug bites and scratches, and a lot of damage to her mouth.
It’s an injury the veterinarian says could have happened when she gnawed her cage to escape.
“She has multiple fractures to her jaw and it’s causing the root of her tooth to be exposed, so that will be surgically repaired,” explained Dr. Caroline Crider with BluePearl Veterinary Partners.
Officials say they don’t think Brady ever left the airport grounds. And Christie never gave up hope she’d get her dog back.
“She’s our family, and we weren’t leaving here without her,” she said.
Pennell plans to stay in Tampa until Brady is healthy enough to fly. The family is looking into options to make sure the dog successfully makes it to Bermuda this time.