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38 puppies saved after crash in Texas; brought to San Diego for adoption

A dog who survived a crash in Texas is held at the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe on Wednesday.
A dog who survived a crash in Texas is brought into the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe on Wednesday, Dec. 21.
(Photo courtesy of Helen Woodward Animal Center)

The dogs were on their way from the Heart of Louisiana Animal Center to the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe when the truck transporting them Tuesday struck a center divider on a Texas highway.

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The staff at the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe awoke Tuesday, Dec. 20, to what some initially described as a “tragedy.”

They received news that a truck, carrying 40 puppies being shipped to San Diego County from the Heart of Louisiana Animal Center, crashed and flipped on it side on a Texas highway in the early-morning hours.

Firefighters, emergency veterinarians and the Louisiana center’s staff arrived at the scene of the crash to provide care for the animals, while Woodward Animal Center staff worked to get the dogs to California safely.

Although two of the dogs died from their injuries, the remaining 38 puppies reached the Helen Woodward Animal Center on Wednesday morning, Dec. 21.

After being taken into the center, the staff conducted medical assessments to determine which puppies would be healthy enough for adoption in the coming days.

“It’s kind of a little holiday miracle to me,” said Jessica Gercke, the center’s communications director. “It was just a lot of people coming together to make sure that as much care was taken and make sure that these animals survived.”

The crash happened shortly after 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 20, when the truck that was transporting the animals struck a center divider on a highway in Longview, Texas, flipped on its side and skidded across the ground, officials from the Helen Woodward Center said in a statement.

The driver survived with minor injuries. Of the surviving puppies, at least one had a broken leg, another had a head injury and others had eye injuries, such as a scratched cornea.

Officials said 20 dogs will be up for adoption starting Saturday, Dec. 24. The remaining 18 have injuries that need continued treatment by staff before they can be adopted, Gercke said.

“We are incredibly moved by the severity of the accident and the miracle of how many of them not only survived but were safe from injury,” said Kendall Schulz, Woodward’s adoption services director. “We put all of our hearts into looking after orphan pets but I sincerely feel that something greater was looking out for them this morning.”

The dogs’ arrival marked the latest chapter in a longtime partnership the Helen Woodward Animal Center has had with various in-state and out-of-state shelters, authorities from the center said. More than 95 percent of the animals that come to the local no-kill animal shelter come from other parts of the U.S.

“Spay and neuter laws are not in place in a lot of the places that we pull from, which means that a lot of dogs are out on the street and they’re procreating,” said Gercke. “They go into shelters and there’s no room, and so for shelters, their only option is to euthanize.”

Approximately 2,000 dogs have been saved from euthanasia and sent from the Louisiana shelter to Rancho Santa Fe over the last two years, according to Gercke.

“We work together to save the lives of these animals,” Gercke said.

For more information on the dogs that will be available for adoption starting Saturday, Dec. 24, visit animalcenter.org.


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