A twin-engine plane transporting 53 rescue dogs from New Orleans to Wisconsin made an emergency landing on a golf course on November 15, 2022.
The dogs were part of the Humane Animal Welfare Society’s regular bi-monthly trips to transport at-risk adoptable dogs from southern states to various shelters in Wisconsin.
The three individuals in the plane, including the plot and co-pilot, suffered minor injuries and some of the pups, but all dogs were alive and being taken care of by veterinarians.
The authorities are still investigating the cause of the crash. The incident happened at around 9 am on Tuesday when employees of the Western Lakes Golf Club in Pewaukee witnessed the plane going down near the fifth hole of the snow-covered golf course.
The plane hit several trees and plowed through a marsh before stopping. The crash severed the plane’s wing and dumped nearly 300 gallons of fuel onto the golf course.
The employees then rushed to the site, pulled the survivors out of the plane, and helped to unload the crated dogs to safety.
The HAWS team, who were all waiting at the airport, also rushed to the scene six miles away when they learned of the crash. They then transferred the dogs into several shelters in the Waukesha region as planned initially.
They now affectionately refer to the 53 dogs as the “Western Lakes Loves” and have raised more than $6,000 after only two days of campaigning for funds to help cover the unexpected medical expenses due to the crash.
First Responders Among The First To Adopt
The day after the incident, seven of the dogs had already been adopted, and by the third day, that number rose to 19, as reported by HAWS director of organizational development Maggie Tate-Techtmann.
One of the adopters was deputy fire chief Tony Wasielewski, who renamed the lucky dog Marley after his favorite reggae musician.
Wasielewski recounted that Marley immediately thrust herself into his arms and licked him when he arrived at the scene. He had to hand her over, however, to someone else as he helped pull out the other dogs from the plane.
The deputy then saw Marley again an hour later in the golf club’s shed, and it wanted to approach upon seeing him. That was when his heart melted, and he decided right then that he would arrange to adopt the dog the next day.
Marley has now joined two other dogs of the Wasielewski family, who had welcomed their new sister in a heartbeat. “It’s like she’s lived here for years,” the deputy said.
Another adopter is a firefighter and EMT, Elle Steitzer. “As soon as I found out that all of them were okay, my first thought was that one of them was going to come home with me,” she said. Steitzer named her new puppy Lucky.
A colleague of Steitzer’s, Amber Christian, also decided to adopt when she saw her showing off her new puppy. “He just kind of fell out of the sky in front of me, so here he is,” she said of the dog which she named Artemis.
Several other first responders also showed interest in adopting one of the Western Lakes Loves.
Stephanie Deswarte, a front desk manager from one of the shelters, said that they do not normally let people adopt until the dogs are up on their website. But, “since they did such a great job trying to help with the whole crazy situation,” the shelter made some exceptions.
“It was a miracle that everybody really was okay,” she said.