The plane was carrying 53 shelter dogs when it crash-landed onto a golf course.
First responders who raced to the scene after a plane carrying more than 50 shelter dogs crash-landed onto a Wisconsin golf course this week have helped rescue the pets in more ways than one.
The large twin-engine aircraft, which was transporting the dogs to shelters in southeastern Wisconsin from Louisiana, crashed on the golf course at the Western Lakes Golf Club in Pewaukee on Tuesday.
Three people and 53 dogs on board all survived, with some of the animals suffering minor injuries like bumps and scrapes. The three people were transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, authorities said.
In the days following the crash, several first responders who worked the scene have adopted the dogs they helped rescue.
“As soon as I found out all of them were okay, my first thought was that, one of them is coming home with me. So this is my little Lucky,” Elle Steitzer, a firefighter and EMT at Lake Country Fire Rescue, told ABC Milwaukee affiliate WISN while cradling her new puppy.
Streitzer and two of her colleagues at Lake Country Fire Rescue who responded to the scene of the plane crash adopted dogs on Friday.
“He just kind of fell out of the sky in front of me, so here he is,” Amber Christian, a firefighter and paramedic with Lake Country Fire Rescue, told WISN of her dog, Artemis.
Deputy Chief Tony Wasielewski said Marley jumped into his arms after the crash. The next day, he went to find her at the Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County, which took in 21 of the dogs involved in the crash.
“When they let her in the door she bypassed my wife, ran to me, jumped kind of into my arms, gave me kisses. I started to tear up a little bit and I said, ‘Oh boy, I guess we got a dog,'” Wasielewski told WISN.
The dogs were taken to shelters in counties across Wisconsin.
Elmbrook Humane Society took 11 dogs, with “first dibs” going to the first responders of the plane crash.
“We had quite a few of them calling asking,” Stephanie Deswarte, a front desk manager for the shelter, told ABC News.
“We normally don’t let people adopt until we have them up on our website because we want to give anybody as fair of a chance as possible. But since they were obviously in the thick of it, and they did such a great job trying to help with the whole crazy situation, that we gave all first responders first dibs so to speak to adopt before they went up on the website,” she continued.
Deswarte said so far three people involved in the rescue — one of the first responders on the scene, another first responder and a worker at the golf course — have adopted the puppies Charlie Brown, Linus and Sally, while the family of another first responder was looking at adopting a puppy on Saturday.
“We have never had something quite like this happen before,” Deswarte said. “It was a miracle that everybody really was OK.”
Matthew Haerter, assistant chief at Lake Country Fire and Rescue, commended the pilot during what he described as a “relatively catastrophic landing.” The plane went through trees, losing both its wings, before it belly-landed on the course.
“I think all of us collectively have a soft spot in our heart, especially for dogs that have been rescued,” Haerter said during a press briefing Tuesday. “And now to think that they have to go through this before they find their forever home.”
“This could have turned out so much worse,” he said.
Local authorities had no comment on the cause of the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident.