The disoriented creature appeared to be suffering on the hot tarmac at Washington Dulles International Airport.

A Virginia airport worker earned himself a unique nickname after wrangling a wild animal from the runway at Washington Dulles International Airport recently.

TSA Explosives Detection Canine Handler Shelby Tibbs had just finished a round of training with his canine when he spotted a groundhog scurrying around on the hot tarmac.

Concerned for the safety of the animal, which appeared to be suffering in the sun, Tibbs got into his vehicle and drove to where he spotted the groundhog.

Dulles Groundhog Rescue
Credit: TSA/MWAA

"It was really hot that day and the tarmac felt like more than 100 degrees with the heat index," he said in a TSA news release.

"I ran him down, wrapped the leash around him several times and picked him up." Tibbs, who has a background in animal control, recalled.

Tibbs worked with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) Operations division to transport the groundhog to a creek just outside airport property where the animal was safely released, he said.

Airport personnel have since dubbed the canine handler the "Groundhog Whisperer."

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A humble Tibbs made light of the heroic rescue.

"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," he joked. "But he was a very good passenger while we drove to the nearby creek."