HOUSTON - Chad Nichols is a proud, veteran Houston police officer.
He quit his job as an accountant and joined the force because he truly wanted to help care for the people of this city.
When monster Hurricane Maria plowed through Puerto Rico, it wiped out tens of thousands of homes. The storm left residents scrambling for survival. Nichols was one of 26 Houston police officers who bravely volunteered to go to there to help.
“I just saw it as an opportunity to kind of give back to what we received and it was basically just a disaster-relief effort,” Nichols said.
While in Puerto Rico, Nichols fell in love with a beautiful brown-eyed girl who had lost her family in the hurricane.
The girl is a 2-year-old shepherd-beagle mix.
Chad named her Maria. She was starving and alone.
“There were literally thousands of dogs running around," Nichols said. "It’s heart-breaking. It really is. She was just too good of a dog to leave behind.”
Right away, Nichols decided he was going to rescue Maria. He wanted to bring her home to Texas and give her a new home in the residence he shares with his wife, Ayah.
But Nichols got some crushing news. Every airline available to him was booked solid with pet transports. Maria wasn’t going anywhere. Nichols would have to leave her homeless in Puerto Rico.
“When they told me that I couldn’t get a flight out until after Christmas, well, I knew she wasn’t going to come home,”
Ayah said. “When he thought she wasn’t going to be able to come home, he was very devastated. I think he was in tears.”
Faced with losing Maria forever, Nichols decided to call Spencer Solves It.
Right away, we began searching airlines and found major help through American Airlines Cargo Service.
American would fly Maria safely home to Houston for free on the same day Nichols was going home.
“Man it was just an unbelievable feeling," Nichols said. “I couldn’t believe it was going to happen.”
Two weeks ago, Nichols reunited with Maria at Bush Intercontinental Airport and now she had a forever home and may never be hungry or lonely again.
“She’s going to have a really great life now," Nichols said. “And if it hadn’t been for you, Bill (Spencer), and American Airlines, she would have continued to be a stray.”
“Thank you so much, I mean she wouldn’t be here without you,” Ayah said.
“Thank you for your service. Thank you for protecting us every day. I mean you guys are the real heroes here. I’m glad we got this beautiful little thing home," Spencer replied.
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