104 Adorable Puppies SAFE After Heroic Freeway Rescue

By Travis Greenwood

When a cargo truck carrying 104 puppies veered into a ditch running alongside Interstate 86 last month, veterinarians from Finger Lakes SPCA, a small animal shelter in central New York, immediately jumped in to help.

That's the unusual, but heartwarming story from Bath, a town of 12,000 located about 272 miles northwest of New York City.

The good news: Injuries were minimal and all of the doggos are on the mend thanks in part to the quick-thinking of the New York State Troopers that were the first to arrive on the scene. When the scope of the accident became evident, they reached out to the clinic and a local towing company to triage, treat, and transport the affected canines.

In an interview with TODAY.com, Vicki Mosgrove, the executive director for the Finger Lakes SPCA, shared the following:

"We're used to dealing with animal emergencies, (but) we're a small shelter. We normally house maybe 60 cats and 30 dogs, max."

In a stroke of good fortune, holiday adoptions had opened up some extra space so the shelter was able to accommodate 86 of the dogs while the rest were diverted to Bath Veterinary Hospital.

All of the puppers were carefully examined by Dr. Karen Doucette, who described the Herculean challenge "as both 'overwhelming' and 'adorable'". While the dogs were a bit confused and shellshocked, they were otherwise unharmed and seemingly happy:

When "they realized that the people here really cared about them... they became playful and just as sweet as can be."

In a post currently pinned to the top of its Facebook feed, the Finger Lakes SPCA revealed that 4 of the puppies needed extra care.

Included amongst them were two with serious ailments: Hansel, a shepherd with a broken jaw, and Greta, a black lab with a broken leg. Two of the dogs were also treated for URIs (Upper Respiratory Infections): A very lovable cane corso dubbed Big Blue and a heart-stealing Boston terrier, nicknamed Charlie (see pics, embedded below).

The concentration of so many dogs in one vehicle raised serious concerns about their origins and destination — and it was later learned that they came from a network of out-of-state breeders.

But after getting a clean bill of health, all of the puppies — save for the 4 cited above, who have been rehomed with nearby families — had to be released back to the trucking company, a development that gave staff at the shelter (and its followers on social media) considerable pause.

"We're experienced in animal welfare, and all signs pointed to the fact that these were likely from a puppy mill situation," noted Doucette.

"As an organization, we abhor puppy mills," lamented Mosgrove. "A lot of people are outraged that we had to send them on their way … (but) there are no legal remedies for us to keep these animals without an animal cruelty charge."

Uneasiness aside, the shelter opted in the end to thank everyone that came together to help these animals in need: "From the state troopers... to the local towing company who worked to bring the animals to a safe place... the community really pulled together."