Tyler, Texas (KETK) – For the staff at the Smith County Animal Shelter it was a normal Tuesday morning.
That was until a rescue lab mix, Luna, went into labor.
Everything was fine, up until Luna reached the eight-hour mark.
“(I) noticed she was having complications and already lost one puppy so we automatically contacted some of our local volunteers,” said Lekisha Stinecipher, Smith County Animal Control Coordinator.
The volunteers who received the call were staff at the Kingdom Veterinary Clinic in Flint.
“When she got here we find another dead puppy in that birth canal and we assisted in getting it out,” said Dr. Roy Wilmeth, Kingdom Veterinary Clinic. “We wanted to try to avoid a c-section if we could so we gave her some medicine to help strengthen her contractions and see if we couldn’t get more out naturally.”
Despite giving birth to two puppies naturally, Dr. Wilmeth noticed Luna was struggling to continue.
To prevent stillbirths and protect Luna, an emergency c-section was performed.
“We do c-sections all the time, but never one like this,” Dr. Wilmeth said.
The situation was tense, as Dr. Wilmeth recalls. His entire staff was in one room, all pitching in.
As he recovered one pup after another, he never realized how many there were until the last one.
“There really wasn’t a lot of time to kind of think and process how many were coming out but it seemed like it would just never end,” he said. “For each one we’re pulling out I’m sitting here going ‘there’s quite a few more left’ so we really didn’t even count them until most of them were out of the dog and then we realized how many we had and we were like holy cow.”
A total of 20 puppies were delivered from Luna. Two naturally and 18 via c-section.
Something no one expected to see.
“I was blown away when they told me 20 puppies, that’s a lot of puppies, a lot, too many for Luna,” said Stinecipher. “It makes our job worth it when we see a dog in a situation like Luna when she was found on the street as a stray dog.”
Thanks to the generosity of one rescue, Luna and her family will be taking a road trip to Connecticut to their forever home.
“‘Because for Paws’ is actually the rescue in Connecticut, we appreciate any help we can get,” said Stinecipher. “We thank ‘Because for Paws’ for stepping in and helping in this situation.”
Until then people marvel at just how incredible Luna’s story is.
“It was special,” said Dr. Wilmeth. “I’m sure that never in my career will we see this many puppies from a dog and people are saying that it’s some kind of record.”
Though it’s a remarkable story, the shelter, the veterinarian, and Stinecipher says this shouldn’t have happened.
“All this could have been prevented due to spay and neuter,” Stinecipher said. “Most the puppies that size, normally, would have about 10 or 12 puppies…if you calculate 18 times 12 puppies that is a lot of puppies. With our stray issue here in East Texas, and worldwide, we know with the overpopulation spay and neuter is the smartest thing to do to prevent this situation.”
If you would like to meet Luna or help out with some other animals, the animal shelter is always looking for more volunteers.
“We desperately need volunteers to help us do our job ever day because, with us, we’re doing the law enforcement side of this as far as animal control,” said Stinecipher. “We’re not able to go get the dogs out of the kennels and play with them and give them the attention they need, volunteers is what brings them in to give them baths care that they need.”
To volunteer email the shelter at email@example.com.
If you would are interested in fostering one of Luna’s puppies, click HERE.