TAMPA — When a round-bellied stray dachshund arrived at Animal Services this month offering wet kisses and a wagging tail, workers suspected the pup came from a loving home.
But it wasn't until they scanned an implanted microchip that it became clear where the dog really belongs: Kansas City.
Hillsborough Animal Services could only speculate on how Addison the dachshund turned up a stray here. But she is headed back first-class today to her family in Kansas.
Her family missed her, but plane tickets are expensive. And it's too cold for a dog to travel to the Midwest in the cargo hold.
Local dog lovers stepped in to help. The dachshund, or sometimes called a dotson, was scheduled to depart on Delta Air Lines.
"It's a dotson thing," said Michael Honer, a veterinary technician for Animal Services. "I love dotsons. I have five. When I heard about Addison, I wanted to help her."
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Honer started by taking care of Addison's medical needs. He gave her a dental cleaning. Then he contacted a local rescue group, Dachshund Adoption Rescue and Education. With its help, Honer arranged for transportation.
Crista Banks, of North Tampa, offered to use her frequent-flier miles to fly the dog to Kansas City. She would fly there with the dog, and then back the same night.
"It just all came together," said Banks, a teacher at Woodbridge Elementary School in Tampa.
Animal Services representatives said they are unsure just how Addison got to Florida, but are convinced she was living with someone here until she got lost.
Addison's family — Mom, Dad and a 14-year-old girl who eagerly awaited her arrival — used to live in Arizona before moving to Kansas City, Animal Services said. They adopted Addison when she was a puppy.
Banks said Addison will have her own seat on the plane. When Banks called to book the flight, the airline agent bumped the tickets up to first class because he, too, is a dachshund owner. "Us dotson people, we are a close-knit group," Banks said. Addison will travel in style, wearing a red-and-white scarf. Her carrier is decorated with palm tree stickers, memories of Florida, and an "I Love Kansas City" sticker on the handle.