Service Dog Gives Birth to 8 Puppies at Florida Airport Gate

Credit: Tampa International Airport
Credit: Tampa International Airport

They missed their flight.


A service dog delivered eight puppies at a departure gate in Tampa International Airport Friday.

Diane Van Atter said her 2-year-old golden retriever, Ellie, went into labor unexpectedly as they were waiting to board a flight home to Philadelphia.

“She had no signs of labor,” Van Atter told “She was going up to people and saying hello.”

The service dog went into labor right as gate agents called for boarding.

“All of sudden, she started shaking and her tail went up. I saw little feet coming out,” Van Atter said.

Ellie, who was pregnant with eight puppies, gave birth one-by-one with the puppies’ dad, Nugget, right by her side.

Van Atter, who owns both dogs, said people from all over came to help, and thankfully she had packed towels just in case. The Tampa Fire Department also showed up to assist.

All eight puppies and mom are doing well. The puppies aren’t allowed to fly for another eight weeks so Van Atter said she will drive home with them.

“It’s absolutely something I will never forget and the airport will never forget,” she added.