In late August, an international passenger on a United flight from China arrived at the San Francisco International Airport without the proper paperwork for importing an animal, and left without straightening the problem, leaving the puppy in United's hands. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would not let the 6-month-old German shepherd mix enter the US, and the initial options the CDC presented were either return the dog to China or leave him at SFO, both of which would lead to the dog being euthanized. However, the United staff refused to accept either choice and reached out to the company's governmental affairs teams in Washington and San Francisco for help, which successfully resulted in the CDC granting the puppy a reprieve with a requirement for a 4-month quarantine. While the puppy, named Polaris by the staff, stayed at the airport, the employees built him a splendid makeshift home, visited, and cared for him. The airline contacted the San Francisco SPCA for assistance on finding an adoption home for Polaris after he gets out of the quarantine in Los Angeles. There was a rule that only United's airline personnel could apply, and 35 applications got narrowed down to the top 5 by the SPCA staff. Then the winner was randomly picked out of the dog bowl. Having recently moved to San Francisco with his family and thinking it was the perfect time to adopt the first family dog, William Dale, a seven-year United pilot, was surprised when the congratulatory call came. "I only hope that we can do half as good a job of taking care of him as the United staff did," said Dale. "More than one employee said to me, 'You better take good care of him … or else.' There was even a wag of a finger." "Without question, the United team went above and beyond for this animal," said Lisa Feder, chief of rescue and animal welfare at the SPCA. "There's a saying in the animal welfare world: 'One dog won't change the world, but the world will change for one dog.'"

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