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Bigsen Charles: Man who left dog tied up at Iowa airport to catch flight faces animal neglect charges

Stella the dog was found tied up outside Des Moines, Iowa airport
Stella was found tied up at an Iowa airport after being abandoned by the owner (@ARLIowa/Twitter)
Stella was found tied up at an Iowa airport after being abandoned by the owner (@ARLIowa/Twitter)

DES MOINES, IOWA: A man is charged after abandoning his dog at an Iowa airport before boarding a flight to New Jersey. Bigsen Charles, 24, is charged with negligence and abandonment of animals after leaving his dog, Stella, tied up at an airport in Des Moines, Iowa. Bigsen claims he chose to tether his dog outside the airport and walk it alone, not knowing he'd have to put it in a kennel to take it on the plane. Stella, the dog, was left outside the airport after Charles paid for the dog's airfare and believed that was all he needed to do before his flight to Newark on Thursday, December 29.

"I already checked in and didn't want to miss my flight. I thought if I paid for the dog on the plane they would give her a kennel. I didn't know I had to bring my own," he told Daily Mail. Charles claimed he offered the driver who took him to the airport double the fare if he could take his dog. Unfortunately, the driver was unable to do so. He then asked the passengers if he could leave his dog inside at the airport.


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Charles claimed he tied his dog up and put her outdoors after being unable to go forward. He said that he wanted to finally pick her up with the assistance of one of his friends, but he was unable to contact them. "I was crying when I left her because I didn't want to leave her. I bought the dog for my daughter," he said. "I knew someone would end up taking her," he added.

Airport authorities alerted the Animal Rescue League of Iowa as soon as they spotted the dog left behind, and the organization dispatched an animal control officer to recover the puppy. Speaking to DailyMail, Tina Updegrove said that she had been attempting to get in touch with the dog's owner ever since she first saw him on Thursday, January 2. Until she could take the dog to the shelter, airport personnel provided her with a blanket. "During the drive from the airport to the shelter, she warmed up to me. Her tail was wagging and she was smiling. She is quite fantastic. Such a sweetheart," Updegrove said.  

Charles said that his fiancée had booked his Allegiant Airlines travel from Iowa to New Jersey online. Although she had paid the dog's $50 flight cost as well, she was unaware of all the other requirements he had to meet before flying. Additionally, he said that after returning to his New Jersey home, he had not yet told his girlfriend what had happened to Stella. "Everyday she asks for it. She didn't know I left her at the airport. She would kick me out if she knew."

Charles claimed to have relocated to Iowa in April and that he was returning to New Jersey after being laid off from his position. He acquired the seven-month-old puppy in July from a buddy. He said that days before, his fiancée and their 1-year-old daughter had returned to New Jersey without him and that his intention was to meet them there with his dog Stella. Since the incident, Updegrove claimed she had tried to get in touch with Charles but he had not been returning her calls.

He was facing allegations of animal negligence and abandonment when she finally got in touch with him on Monday. She said that if he hadn't attended the call, she would have had to issue a warrant for his arrest. She claimed that he admitted to her that he understood his actions were inappropriate. "He broke the law. He understood he did. If he flies to Des Moines and gets into interaction with police he can get arrested on those charges," she said. She said he can fly back to Des Moines and face the judge. "If he pleads guilty then he will have to pay a fine," Updegrove said, "but if he pleads not guilty he will most likely have a trial."

In the meantime, she said Stella is going to be getting spayed and will be put up for adoption. "He verbally relinquished Stella. I told him the dog is doing well and happy and he gave me permission to find the dog a new home." Charles also told that "he knows he made the wrong decision." He also said he finally told his girlfriend what had happened to their Stella. "She was angry but now things are okay. She just wants me to get another dog."

The weather in Iowa has been rather extreme, according to Tom Colvin, CEO of the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, and he told that he was relieved the dog hadn't been left outside the week before. "The airport had a lot of delays, cancellations, stranded passengers because of sub-zero temperatures- minus twenty degrees with howling winds," he said. When airport staff located the dog outside the entrance, he said, they got her a blanket and 'loved her up." He added, "It was probably a little therapeutic for them considering the week they were having."