Lifestyle & Human Interest

Plane Full of Rescue Dogs Makes Emergency Crash Landing, Loses Wings After Hitting Trees


Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.

On Nov. 15, a crew of three was flying 53 at-risk rescue dogs from Louisiana to Wisconsin to give the pups a better chance at finding homes with loving families.

They were just four miles from landing at the Waukesha County Airport when something went wrong and the large twin-engine aircraft went down over a golf course in Pewaukee, crashing into a stand of trees that sheared the wings off.

While the three people aboard the plane were able to get themselves out of the wreckage, they were all hospitalized. All of the crew and the dogs sustained injuries, but thankfully none of them were life-threatening.

“This was a relatively catastrophic landing where they went through trees,” Assistant Chief Matthew Haerter with Lake Country Fire and Rescue said, according to WTMJ-TV. “The wings actually came off of the aircraft.

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“The pilot and his copilot did an amazing job getting this aircraft on the ground the way that they did.”

Thanks to the skilled emergency landing the crew was able to pull off, the dogs were able to be taken for medical care, taken in by the shelters they were destined for and some of them are already available for adoption — something the rescuers were worried wouldn’t be a possibility after first getting news of the crash.

“I think we were all unsure about what we were going to be arriving to but very grateful that everyone is safe,” Maggie Tate-Techtmann, director of organizational development at the Humane Animal Welfare Society (HAWS) of Waukesha County, said.

“The animals are in fantastic, fantastic shape. We had our vet on the ground yesterday as well as all 53 of the animals were triaged here before going off to some of our partner shelters yesterday.”

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the crash, but no news on that front yet. After the crash landing, hundreds of gallons of jet fuel spilled onto the golf course and necessitated specialized treatment.

“The crash resulted in approximately 300 gallons of jet fuel being spilled outside the aircraft,” the Lake County Fire & Rescue (LCFR) posted on Facebook.

“LCFR, DNR, and Waukesha Fire Hazmat immediately began operations to isolate exposure to the environment as the wreckage is investigated and removed. The DNR will continue these efforts into the future.

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“LCFR commends the staff of Western Lakes Golf Club for their swift action during this incident. Their organization and assistance for all responding agencies was invaluable.”

HAWS also started a donation page so that interested parties could help donate toward the unexpected costs associated with the incident, and within two days they raised more than $6,500, when their goal was only $5,000.

And not only are these pups getting lots of attention and financial assistance thanks to the publicity their story has gotten, but according to WISN-TV, some of the first responders who initially helped with the rescue are applying to adopt some of the dogs they helped.

To that end, the shelters gave them first choice. More of the dogs were available for adoption by the general public a few days later.

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