US & Canada

Service dog gives birth to eight pups in Florida airport

Service dog and owners Image copyright Tampa Fire Rescue/Twitter
Image caption Service dog Ellie nurses her new pups in the Tampa International Airport

A US service dog unexpectedly gave birth to eight puppies in the middle of the Tampa International Airport, just before her owners boarded their flight.

Eleanor 'Ellie' Rigby, a two-year-old yellow Labrador who serves as a guide dog, delivered the pups with the help of Tampa Fire Rescue's medical team.

Her owners knew she was pregnant, but did not realise how close she was to going into labour.

Ellie and father Nugget are now parents to seven males and one female pup.

Service animals are trained to assist people with disabilities, including guide dogs for the blind and hearing-impaired as well as for mental health and seizure alerts.

An airport spokesperson told Fox 13 that Ellie and Nugget's owners, a woman and her daughter, were set to board their flight to Philadelphia with the two service dogs when Ellie went into labour.

The family - and their eight new additions - missed their flight.

Image copyright Tampa Fire Rescue/Twitter
Image caption Ellie and her puppies drew a crowd in the terminal
Image copyright Tampa Fire Rescue/Twitter
Image caption Ellie's owner gives her a hug after the delivery

Ellie successfully delivered her puppies amid a crowd of onlookers and with a little help from Tampa Fire Rescue staff Larry Glanton and Natalie Brown.

Image copyright Tampa Fire Rescue/Twitter
Image caption Larry Glanton (second from left) and Natalie Brown (right) helped deliver the puppies
Image copyright Tampa Fire Rescue/Twitter
Image caption The pups' father, Nugget, watches as Ellie gives birth

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Image copyright Tampa Fire Rescue/Twitter
Image caption Ellie looks at her new pups

Airport officials posted on Twitter: "Ruff day for this mama at Gate F80!"

The surprise delivery ended with applause and barks in the concourse.

Image copyright Tampa Fire Rescue/Twitter
Image caption Ellie's owner gives her a hug while the new puppies rest

The family and all 10 dogs will be driving all 1,000 miles (1600km) from Tampa to Philadelphia instead, the Miami Herald reported.

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