TSA Explosives Detection Canine Handler Shelby Tibbs had spotted the creature running around the airport runway while finishing a round of training with Dux, a German Short-Haired Pointer.
Tibbs, concerned for the animal’s safety, drove over to pick up the groundhog. He said the animal appeared to be suffering from the heat.
“It was really hot that day and the tarmac felt like more than 100 degrees” with the index, Tibbs said, according to TSA.
“I ran him down, wrapped the leash around him several times and picked him up,” Tibbs said.
Tibbs, who has a background in animal control and has his rabies inoculation, wrapped a leash in the groundhog’s mouth so it wouldn’t bite.
Working with personnel from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) Operations Division, Tibbs transported the groundhog to a creek outside Dulles where it was released.
“I think he wanted to catch a flight to someplace cold because it was very hot that day. I guess he couldn’t buy a ticket,” Tibbs quipped. “But he was a very good passenger while we drove to the nearby creek.”
Since that episode, airport personnel has reportedly dubbed Tibbs the “Groundhog Whisperer.”