What started as a “freedom flight” for rescue dogs on their way to a new life didn’t exactly go to plan.
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On a snowy November day, an aircraft carrying 53 at-risk dogs from overcrowded southern shelters to new lives up north crash-landed on the third hole of the Western Lakes Golf Course in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. It was not a soft impact. In fact, the plane hit so hard the wings came off and almost 300 gallons of fuel spilled.
Workers at the golf course say the whole building shook when the plane made impact. They rushed out to see what had happened, quickly helping the three adults on board out of the wreckage. When they noticed the dogs, some of them still in badly-damaged carriers, they helped get the shaken animals to safety, too.
No one knows why the plane crashed, but the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department called the crash “a relatively catastrophic landing.”
“The pilot and his copilot did an amazing job getting this aircraft on the ground that they did,” said Assistant Chief Matthew Haerter with Lake Country Fire and Rescue.
All of the plane’s passengers, both human and canine, survived with minor injuries. All 53 shelter dogs were taken to Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County (HAWS) to be checked out. From there, some dogs stayed and others were moved to the shelters they had been heading to before the crash. All of these animals will be put up for adoption.
“I think we were all unsure about what we were going to be arriving to but very grateful that everyone is safe,” said Maggie Tate-Techtmann, director of organizational development at HAWS of Waukesha County.
The golf course’s pro, Garrett Mack, told Wisconsin Golf that everyone working that day leaped into action as soon as they realized there were so many dogs on board.
“We’re all dog owners and dog lovers here, so being able to help out and do what we can was just really important to us,” he explained. “Obviously, the dogs were stressed. There were a lot of damaged crates, so unfortunately there were some that kind of got bounced around the cabin when it came down. But all the dogs are accounted for. Aside from being scared, they all seemed to be in pretty good shape.”
It’s hard to believe that no one was hurt in this terrifying ordeal! We can only imagine how scary that was for all involved, and we hope the road ahead is much smoother for these sweet pups!
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