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Service Dog Gives Birth To 8 Puppies In Tampa Airport Terminal

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Two-year-old Golden Labrador Eleanor “Ellie” Rigby and her baby daddy Golden Nugget were traveling with their humans and waiting inside the main terminal of Tampa’s International Airport. Ellie and Golden Nugget are service dogs to Diane Van Atter.

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To Van Atter’s surprise, Ellie went into labor, right there in the airport terminal. Jason Penny is the public information officer for Tampa Fire and Rescue and said that Aircraft Rescue Firefighters (appropriately termed ‘ARFF,’) responded to the call to help the laboring mama.

Emily Nipps is the senior communications manager for Tampa International and said a nurse stepped out of the crowd watching the events going on to also help. The nurse helped deliver five of the puppies before she had to leave and catch her flight.

Nipps said labor went on for about four hours and Atter was not only surprised by the labor in the terminal but that Ellie had eight puppies, not seven as she thought Ellie was carrying. First Responder Lt. Natalie Brown said that when they heard the call at their fire station, they couldn’t believe their ears. They hopped in their car and headed to the terminal. Two puppies were already born, and Brown said the whole situation was just magical.

Brown wanted to originally move Ellie to a quieter area but Van Atter was concerned about moving Ellie, so the incredible moments of birth happened right there where they were. Many passengers voluntarily missed connecting flights because they were mesmerized by such a beautiful sight, according to Brown.

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As expectant fathers do, Golden Nugget surrounded Ellie excitedly, waiting to see the adorable seven male puppies and one female, and then when all was done, Ellie nursed her babies like it was the most natural thing to do in the most natural place to do it.

The Tampa Fire and Rescue Department posted tweets on their Twitter account, proudly claiming they’re a ‘full-service department.’ We should say so!

Happy birthday, puppies, and well done, Ellie and Golden Nugget!


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