DULLES, Va. — A desperate search is on for Milo the cat. A German airline lost a U.S. Army captain's pet as she was returning home last week from a four-year overseas deployment.
Animal rescue experts said airlines lose or kill pets traveling as cargo all too often. Molly McFadden has now called in the pet-tracking dog Abby to help find Milo.
Two different people reported they'd seen him near the Sheetz in Sterling, just off the airport property, but several miles from the terminal.
"I woke up today really hopeful," McFadden said. "Just because I had people see him, having people see him in an area where I don't have to get multiple permissions and I can look for him, that just made me more optimistic."
Just out of the service, McFadden was coming home from Germany with her two beloved cats. When she got to baggage claim at Dulles last week, Bo was fine, but the door to Milo's plastic crate was broken and pushed in.
"He obviously didn't break it or push it out himself, and he's a cat, so he's not going to yank it in," she said. "So even now, I don't really know what happened to it."
Airport workers have been searching, even setting humane traps.
"Lufthansa’s ground staff at Dulles Airport are giving this matter the highest attention," Christina Semmel, a spokeswoman for the airline, said. "They have been searching for Milo and have sent out emails to the 'airline community' at Dulles Airport, members of the various authorities there, including ground handlers as well as other airlines, asking for assistance in the search. Our team has also posted flyers created by the customer at different locations of the ramp area. The search for Milo continues and our ground staff are in close touch with Ms. McFadden."
But so far, no Milo.
"I did not think I would spend my first week home just desperately searching for my cat," McFadden said.
Sam Connelly with Pure Gold Pet Trackers said she's recovered hundreds of lost cats, but she says cats lost by airlines are far too common. The U.S. Department of Transportation reported 26 pets traveling as cargo died in 2016 -- another 22 were injured.
"It's unfortunate that this happens so often," Connelly said. "There is no way I would ever ship my animals."
McFadden said if she ever ships her cats again, she's using a metal crate instead of plastic.
If you spot Milo, you can call McFadden or send her a message on Facebook.