Janesville44°

Dogs rescued from Interstate doing well

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Stacy Vogel
February 29, 2008
— You’d never know the puppy running around the Johnson home Tuesday had been so cold a few weeks ago she couldn’t move.

The pup, tan with white splotches, climbed on her new sibling, a border collie named Chloe, and eagerly ran from one person to another looking for attention. Her tiny tail never stopped wagging.


She looked, in fact, like a normal puppy.


But this puppy—Lilly Miss Sunshine, or Lilly for short—is anything but ordinary. She became a minor celebrity after her story and the story of 65 other dogs appeared in newspapers and television newscasts across the Midwest.


The dogs were on their way from a Southern animal shelter to Safe Hands Rescue, a foster-based animal rescue group in Minneapolis, when their van crashed on Interstate 90/39 near Edgerton on Feb. 10.


Lilly—who was called Sunshine before she was adopted—was a last-minute addition to the trip. Volunteers found her undersized and dehydrated when they arrived at the Southern shelter.


She was riding in the front seat when the van crashed. It took Edgerton firefighters half an hour to find her, frozen to the wheel well after water spilled on her.


The dogs ended up at Hillside Springs Hunt Club in Edgerton, and veterinarian Terry Johnson was called to examine the dogs.


“(Lilly) was the worst of the group,” said Terry’s wife, Karen. “One of the ladies had her tucked into her sweater, and all she could do was moan.”


Terry and Karen took Sunshine home “for the night” to give her a little extra care. The pup has been with them ever since.


Some of the other dogs are close to finding permanent homes as well, said Lynne Bengtson, a Safe Hands volunteer who was in the van Feb. 10.


Safe Hands only kept 10 of the original 66 dogs. It gave three dogs to The Twig Project, a Madison animal rescue group, and distributed the rest to rescue groups across the Twin Cities.


Those 10 dogs are with foster families and doing well, Bengtson said. One puppy, Alexa, had a bone fragment in her hip as a result of the accident. She was operated on and is expected to make a full recovery, Bengtson said.


One foster mom plans to adopt her puppy, and another foster mom—a veterinarian—has found a home for her puppy with one of her clients.


“All are happy, healthy, growing like weeds and cute as buttons,” Bengtson wrote in an e-mail to The Janesville Gazette.


Lilly is growing like a weed, too. She’s gained half her body weight in the two weeks she’s spent with the Johnsons, Terry said.


At first, the pup wanted nothing to do with the cold and didn’t like to go outside, Karen said. But she turned a corner last week and now is housebroken.


Lilly already has become part of the family, Karen said.


“Our lives turned upside-down … during that day, but now I don’t know how I’d live without her,” she said.



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