CLEAR LAKE, Minn. — When tragedy recently struck at a Minnesota animal rescue, volunteers found a solution they felt was "nothing short of a miracle."
Ruff Start Rescue says a mama dog, Poppy, unexpectedly passed away after giving birth to 10 puppies. With such a large litter volunteers had to think fast to give the motherless pups a good chance at survival.
"We frantically started figuring out our next move with the babies," wrote foster pet parent Lexi Johnson. "Another volunteer was over until 11:30 that night helping bottle feed. And throughout the evening my husband and I were up every 3 hours getting food in their bellies... and it was taking over 1.5 hours each time."
The Johnsons soon learned of another tragedy: Mama dog Pepper had given birth to a litter of puppies, all of which died. The Johnsons committed to taking Pepper in.
"When she got to our house, we brought her in the puppy room and she immediately sat next to the litter," Johnson said. "I started placing puppies around her and she laid down and the puppies instinctively hobbled towards her and started nursing."
RELATED: Twin Cities lawn becomes hound central station, as dogs pull their humans to their favorite destination
Within five minutes, Johnson said, all of the puppies were nursing. Pepper had accepted them all.
"She's been nothing short of an amazing miracle," Johnson said.
Pepper and the pups won't be available for adoption until they finish the nursing stage, but the rescue says they'll go up on the Ruff Start Rescue website around Aug. 25. A few of the pups have already been spoken for.
In the meantime, Johnson said the pups have each other, full bellies, and "a mama that will teach them how to be a dog."