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In Duluth, puppies abandoned in a box, nearly run over, bring flood of adoption calls


Animal Allies was flooded with adoption calls Thursday after news spread that five German shepherd-husky puppies were found in a box on Martin Road.

A driver passed the box Thursday about 11 a.m., almost hitting it, and saw it fall over. He went back to see what was inside, and found the puppies, said Jim Filby Williams, executive director of Animal Allies in Duluth.

The uninjured puppies were brought to Animal Allies.

Filby Williams said it is common for boxes of puppies and kittens to be left at the front door of the shelter, "but it's highly unusual for baby animals to be left in a random location, particularly in a place where they were lucky they weren't hit by a car."

The puppies, already named by Animal Allies staff members, are about

7 to 8 weeks old. One of them, 11-pound Gabriel, has a rare congenital defect that gave him two left front legs. His left front paw beginning at the wrist is split in two, forcing him to walk on three legs.

"It's all he's known, so he's already compensated for it," said Mary Wictor, a local veterinarian who volunteers at Animal Allies.

Wictor has consulted with the University of Minnesota veterinary school and with local veterinarians to determine how to treat the deformity. She hopes the foot can be fixed without amputation but said if that's necessary, three-legged dogs can operate almost as well as those with four legs. If needed, the leg would be amputated at the elbow. She expects Gabriel to reach 60 to 70 pounds, so it's important that his front legs are able to bear weight.

All five puppies appeared in good spirits three hours after being brought to the shelter, busily eating, drinking water and crawling on each other and the people around them.

Wictor said trauma from the experience wasn't likely because the dogs weren't dehydrated or malnourished and probably spent less than 24 hours in the box.

"As they grow and go with new families, it's not going to be a thought in their minds," kennel manager Casey Peabody said.

The puppies' plight was featured on in the early afternoon, and by the end of the workday, Filby Williams said, Animal Allies staff had been "flooded with calls" from people interested in adopting the dogs.

Wictor said the puppies will be eligible for adoption beginning Tuesday. It may take longer for Gabriel, she said, unless someone wants to take on his problem. If Gabriel needs surgery, it could cost between $500 and $1,000 at minimum.

"We could really use help," Filby Williams said.

The dogs were found on Martin Road between Howard Gnesen Road and Woodland Avenue. If you are interested in adopting one of the puppies, you can call Animal Allies at (218) 722-5341.