Runaway Dog on the Runway

Oct 10, 2020

One speedy dog with a caring group of people!
Credit Diane Stunguris [Facebook]

The quote of the day at the Toronto Pearson Airport: "Boy, could she run!"  It wasn't easy to catch Crystal the Spanish Podenco, a breed known for its speed and stamina.  She looked like a white blur running down the taxiway.  It took hours, but finally the frightened animal ran out of steam and was rescued.


The Podenco is a breed of dog that is native to Spain. They are traditionally used as hunting dogs, but they also make great family pets. Podencos are energetic and playful, and can be extremely fast – something folks at the Toronto Pearson Airport found out the hard way this week.

A Canadian dog rescue group was bringing in several dogs from Spain to be adopted by local families. When the British Airways plane landed in Toronto, the crew opened the cargo door and were startled as a frightened white dog named Crystal raced past them, onto the tarmac and across the airfield. It seems someone had not fastened the dog’s crate securely.

The hunt was on as the airport staff tried to catch her. It was no easy task, as Podencos are known for agility, endurance and speed. The airport brought in extra staff, monitored their cameras, and used night-vision equipment to spot her. The rainy weather made visibility even worse. As it turned out, the hardest part wasn’t finding her but catching her.

This was actually a very serious situation. A loose dog on the runway of Canada’s busiest international airport can be a hazard to itself and to aircraft, crew and passengers. In fact, Crystal was actually on a runway as a plane came in to land. Fortunately, the pilots saw her in time and were able to abort the landing. The airport then closed down the runways and cancelled flights.

Finally, after more than 12 hours on the run, as dawn broke, Crystal was spotted. A man who works to keep birds off the runway went over to the area where she had been seen. Crystal just walked up to him, tired, hungry, and – finally - safe. After a brief rest for the rescue group volunteers – and for Crystal – she and her fellow travelers boarded another plane for their final flight to Halifax – making sure all dog crates were securely closed.

After her misadventure, Crystal is adjusting to life at home with her new family, and hopefully no more scary adventures, when we’re speaking of pets.