Service Dog Surprises Florida Air Travelers By Giving Birth To 8 Puppies At Departure Gate

by Kim Wong-Shing
Kim Wong-Shing is a staff writer at LittleThings. Her work spans beauty, wellness, pop culture, identity, food, and other topics. She is a contributing writer at NaturallyCurly, and her work has also appeared in HelloGiggles, Lifehacker, Wear Your Voice Magazine, and other outlets. She grew up in Philadelphia, attended Brown University, and is now based in New Orleans.

Service dogs have become a standard sight at most airports, but one hardworking pup gave Florida air travelers quite the shock when she delivered a litter of puppies at a departure gate last week.

Eleanor Rigby, a two-year-old golden retriever, and her owner, Diane Van Attler, were awaiting their flight home to Philadelphia at Tampa International Airport Friday when Eleanor suddenly went into labor. The Tampa Bay Times reports that Eleanor then swiftly delivered seven male puppies and one female in the middle of the busy airport — all of them healthy and safe — with the help of Tampa Fire Rescue paramedics and a nurse. The puppies’ father, a dog named Golden Nugget, looked on (proudly, we think) as the exciting scene unfolded amid bystanders’ cheers. (Both Eleanor and Nugget assist Van Attler, who suffers from pain and mobility issues.)

Van Atter told the newspaper that she knew Eleanor was pregnant but didn’t expect her to go into labor so soon — and certainly not in the middle of a bustling airport! Van Atter’s stepmother, Karen James, who was on the same flight, believes the exciting environment likely triggered the dog’s early labor, the Times reported. Needless to say, the newly expanded family missed their flight back to Philly.

As a service dog, Eleanor has been trained to assist people with disabilities. Now she has a new title to add to her resume: proud mama of eight.

Said airport spokesperson Emily Nipps: “I’ve never seen anything like this in an airport, or otherwise.”

Footage provided by KTLA Los Angeles

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