Brian Hamacher

Service Dog Gives Birth to 8 Puppies at Tampa Airport Gate

Eleanor Rigby, a 2-year-old golden retriever, gave birth to eight puppies at Tampa International Airport

A service dog waiting with her owner to board a Philadelphia-bound flight at Tampa International Airport went into labor at the gate as travelers gathered around and watched.

Tampa Fire Rescue said Eleanor Rigby, a 2-year-old golden retriever, went into labor at Gate F-81 and birthed eight puppies — seven males and a female.

The new mom, owner Diane Van Atter and the puppies' father, Golden Nugget, were waiting for a flight home Friday when the puppies started arriving one by one. Tampa Fire Rescue paramedics and a nurse assisted with the delivery.

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Van Atter, the puppies and the parents missed the flight. Van Atter's stepmother, Karen James of Bradenton, said they planned to get some rest and figure out how to drive the new litter back to Philadelphia.

The women told reporters at the airport that they knew Eleanor was pregnant but did not know she was so close to giving birth. It was not known how far along Eleanor was in her pregnany when she gave birth. 

The normal gestation period in dogs is approximately 65 days from conception. Flying with a pregnant dog is not recommended after 45 days because it could induce early labor, according to vets at New York's Westside Veterinary Center.     

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Copyright AP - Associated Press
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