A transport vehicle carrying 40 puppies en route to California flipped on its side on an east Texas highway early Tuesday morning, killing two of the animals.
The driver and 38 of the puppies survived the accident, according to the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe, where the dogs were headed.
“In my 23 years at the Center, I have never experienced this type of a tragedy,” Renee Resko, the organization’s vice president of development, said in a statement. “We’ve all been so fortunate to just expect that each transport will arrive safely. There is so much care put into these journeys by the participating shelters and the transportation companies who do all of this for the love of the animals. This morning’s accident came as a shock to all of us.”
According to the animal center, the accident took place between 12:30 a.m. and 1 a.m. in Longview, about 130 miles east of Dallas. The van was carrying puppies from the Heart of Louisiana Humane Society.
East Texas NBC affiliate KETK reported that the accident, in which the van hit the median and then skidded onto its side, occurred along Interstate 20.
The driver called 911 and the Longview Fire Department Station 3 and police department closed down the highway, flipped the vehicle upright and towed it to their station, the shelter statement said.
“Assessments were done by the firemen on each puppy and an emergency vet was contacted to do additional health checks,” a news release said. “Unfortunately, two of the puppies did not survive the accident.”
The surviving puppies are now set to arrive in California on Wednesday, where each dog will receive a medical assessment from the center’s veterinary team. Those that are deemed healthy may be available for adoption as early as this weekend, center staff added.
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“We know that one of the puppies has a broken leg and one has some mild head trauma so we will be keeping those puppies with us until they are fully recovered,” the center’s adoption services director Kendall Schulz said.
She added, “We are incredibly moved by the severity of the accident and the miracle of how many of them not only survived but were safe from injury. We put all of our hearts into looking after orphan pets but I sincerely feel that something greater was looking out for them.”