A Lucky Litter: A Beagle and Her Puppies Saved in the Nick of Time
One of the puppies from Myrtle's "lucky litter." (ZT Pet News photo by Margo Ann Sullivan.)
PELHAM, N.H. ─ Myrtle, a beagle, and her nine newborn pups are among the lucky dogs that cheated a deadly fire in a West Virginia animal shelter, according to pet rescue volunteers.
The 2 ½ year-old beagle was a last-minute addition to a rescue transport and made it out of West Virginia a few days ahead of the Jan. 13 blaze. The fire, which broke out at 2 a.m., swept through the Ritchie County Humane Association and claimed the lives of the animals in the main building, June Vega, the caretaker, said.
A problem with the building’s gas or electricity probably started the fire, Vega said. The cause is still being investigated, and the shelter is rebuilding.
But Myrtle and several other dogs and puppies had already left on vans to New Hampshire and Washington, D.C., where hopes are high they will find new homes, according to Crystal Dodd, a shelter volunteer.
Besides Myrtle’s litter, five Chow/Boxer puppies from the Ritchie County shelter are also looking for new owners. They arrived in New Hampshire on the same rescue transport along with another beagle puppy, its mother and several adult dogs.
Fortunately, Dodd said, many of the dogs had left the shelter in the nick of time.
Myrtle, whose name was Lady, and her mate, The Tramp, came in as strays, Vega said. He also survived the fire, thanks to a transport. The Tramp went to a new home in Pennsylvania.
But they almost didn’t make it because the transports had been on hold due to bad weather.
“It was the longest cold snap in West Virginia in 10 years,” Dodd said. “It was another several inches of snow every other day. I didn’t want to go for another week.”
But on Jan. 6, Dodd made the white-knuckle trip through the Continental Divide and delivered the dogs to Denise Duff, the volunteer who drove the dogs back to New Hampshire. The two met at the halfway point between their respective states in a parking lot at a Pennsylvania Burger King.
Animal Rescue Network of New England convinced her to push the date up, Dodd said. They had reserved kennel space and foster homes for the West Virginia dogs and didn’t want to delay.
This was a special transport, Duff said. Regular transports involve as many as 15 rescue organizations. The drivers meet in a Pennsylvania industrial park, unload the dogs in the parking lot and tag the animals with the name of their new rescue organization. Volunteers carry a list of dogs, with names and pictures. A typical transport moves about 200 dogs.
“It’s a really intricate, coordinated thing,” Duff said.
On this run, Duff expected to drop off a cargo of food, medicine and supplies and pick up several adult dogs, a litter of Chow/Boxer pups, one beagle puppy and its mother. The original plan was to include another litter of pups, but those dogs came down with an illness and died.
As a substitute for the lost litter, Myrtle’s name came up. She was pregnant, and the shelter expected her to deliver about six puppies.
“Just put her on [the transport],” Duff said.
Dodd, who started doing rescues after she survived the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon, made it home to West Virginia at 2 a.m.
“Through the mountains going back, it was blinding snow,” Dodd said. The trucks were sliding off the ramp at the West Virginia state line. There were gusts of snow. You couldn’t see.”
Meanwhile, Duff faced a 6 ½ hour ride in the opposite direction over the Tappan Zee Bridge and back to Pelham.
Unfortunately, all the food and supplies delivered on the Jan. 6 van were lost in the fire. But the beagles are spending these winter days cuddled up in a warm nest in foster care.
How to Help
To adopt Myrtle or the puppies or to donate to their care, contact Animal Rescue Network of New England, PO Box 1053, Pelham, NH 03076. Myrtle’s pups, which are purebred beagles, became available for adoption Jan. 30. The adoption fee costs $350, including $50 toward the spay/neutering operation. Applications can be found online at www.arnne.org.
To donate to the Ritchie County Humane Association’s building fund, mail contributions to:
Ritchie County Humane Association
Route 1, Box 3
Harrisville, West Virginia 26362
For more information:
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