Fortunately, a dog named Ellie just flipped the script. The 2-year-old yellow Lab gave birth to eight healthy puppies at the Tampa International Airport on May 25, Tampa Fire Rescue announced on Twitter last Friday.
— Tampa Fire Rescue (@TampaFireRescue) May 25, 2018
“An air traveler’s service dog is delivering puppies now @FlyTPA We’re a full-service department!” tweeted the agency.
Ellie, short for Eleanor Rigby, gave birth unexpectedly. The Tampa Bay Times reports she may have gone into labor early while awaiting an afternoon flight home to Philadelphia due to the “excitement” of the airport environment. She was assisted by her owner, Diane Van Atter, as well as the puppies’ father, a dog named Nugget. Both pets are service animals (Ellie is still in training) and help Van Atter with mobility and pain issues.
The woman and her canine family missed their flight, but created quite a cute stir and fascinating scene for crowds of travelers who cheered as each puppy arrived on the concourse. In all, one female and seven males were born.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the baby dogs were delivered with the help of Tampa Fire Rescue paramedics and a nurse (who had to leave halfway though the delivery to catch her own flight!). Tampa paramedics PM Larry Glanton and Lt. Natalie Brown teamed up to deliver the puppies.
At least one puppy was named for a paramedic, reports Fox 13 Tampa. “Number two is Larry,” Glanton proudly told the station.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in an airport, or otherwise,” said airport spokeswoman Emily Nipps. No planes were delayed during the three-hour event, and Twitter was loving the hashtag “#AirportPuppies.”
A relative of Van Atter told the Tampa Bay Times the family’s plan was to stay in Florida for a while, allowing everyone involved to get some much-needed rest, and then hopefully drive back to Philadelphia with the brand new litter.