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Rescued twice over: Edgerton embraces puppies stranded in crash

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Stacy Vogel
February 12, 2008
— They say cats have nine lives.

But dozens of puppies are starting at least their third lives this week after being rescued twice in three days.


The dogs were on their way to Minnesota from an animal shelter in a southern state, where many of them probably would have been euthanized.


Three volunteers from Safe Hands Rescue, a foster-based animal group headquartered in Minneapolis, were transporting the dogs Sunday on Interstate 90/39 when their cargo van hit a patch of ice. The van fishtailed and struck a guardrail under the Highway 59 overpass near Edgerton.


“My first concern was for the dogs,” said Janine Campbell, who was driving when the van crashed around 7:45 a.m.


Edgerton firefighters found more than 60 scared, cold dogs—mostly puppies. Some of the kennels had broken, but most of the animals were too scared to leave their cages, Campbell said.


One puppy, Sunshine, was missing. Firefighters found her half an hour later, frozen to the side of the driver’s-side wheel well. A broken water jug had spilled on her fur.


“She could barely move,” said Lynne Bengtson, a Safe Hands volunteer. “I thought there was no way she was going to make it.”


But she did, along with the 65 other dogs.


A tow truck moved the van with the dogs to Hillside Springs Hunt Club in rural Edgerton. Owner Andy Walton, whose son Adam is an Edgerton firefighter, didn’t hesitate to take in the animals.


“There was no question,” he said. “They needed help, and we had a place.”


Walton loaded the puppies into the club’s kennel building and called his veterinarian, Terry Johnson, to check them out.


Some of the dogs were dehydrated, and one had a bruised leg, but they’re all going to be fine, Johnson said.


Johnson brought food and supplies for the dogs. A Madison rescue group, The Twig Project, donated more supplies and took in some of the puppies that needed extra care.


The Waltons called in friends and family members to help.


“People just started showing up,” Bengtson said. “They fed, they watered, they comforted these poor animals.”


They also comforted the human volunteers, offering food and lodging.


Monday, the puppies appeared good as new. Some slept, some yelped and some wiggled as humans cleaned their kennels, took them outside and fed them. An adult beagle named Judy looked on placidly from a blanket she’d claimed in the corner.


A second van was on its way from Minnesota late Monday morning to take the group home.


Tears spilled from Terrilea Holm’s eyes as she spoke of the Edgerton community’s generosity.


“I feel like I have a whole new extended family,” she said.


The story couldn’t have ended happier for Sunshine. Johnson and his wife adopted the puppy, and she’s doing great.


“She’s like a new dog today, a normal puppy,” Johnson said Monday. “It’s unbelievable.”



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