Service dog gives birth to eight pups in Florida airport

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(BBC) A US service dog unexpectedly gave birth to eight puppies in the middle of the Tampa International Airport, just before her owners boarded their flight.

Larry Glanton (second from left) and Natalie Brown (right) helped deliver the puppies (TAMPA FIRE RESCUE/TWITTER)

Eleanor ‘Ellie’ Rigby, a two-year-old yellow Labrador who serves as a guide dog, delivered the pups with the help of Tampa Fire Rescue’s medical team.

Her owners knew she was pregnant, but did not realise how close she was to going into labour.

Ellie and father Nugget are now parents to seven males and one female pup.

Service animals are trained to assist people with disabilities, including guide dogs for the blind and hearing-impaired as well as for mental health and seizure alerts.

An airport spokesperson told Fox 13 that Ellie and Nugget’s owners, a woman and her daughter, were set to board their flight to Philadelphia with the two service dogs when Ellie went into labour.

The family – and their eight new additions – missed their flight.

Airport officials posted on Twitter: “Ruff day for this mama at Gate F80!”

The surprise delivery ended with applause and barks in the concourse.

The family and all 10 dogs will be driving all 1,000 miles (1600km) from Tampa to Philadelphia instead, the Miami Herald reported.

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