To the rescue: Firefighters rescue dogs from plane crash

To the rescue: Firefighters rescue dogs from plane crash

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DELAFIELD, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A plane carrying over 50 dogs crash-landed on a golf course, and a few firefighters met their future pets that very day.

It was a snowy day in November when a planned transport of dogs from Louisiana turned into a plane crash. All three people and 53 dogs on the plane survived with only minimal injuries. First responders quickly wrangled the animals that were now roaming Western Lakes Golf Course in Pewaukee.

"Crazy. I don't have another word for it. Incredibly lucky. It could've been much so much worse. There are any number of factors that if things had gone slightly differently, we might not be talking right now," Lake Country Firefighter Elle Steitzer said. "I corralled a lot of puppies over the hour or so that we were working on getting them all moved, and I remember thinking that this is such a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I'm going to be thinking about these little guys for the rest of my life."

Instead of wondering how the dogs were doing, Steitzer decided to adopt one.

"He is one of the puppies that I know for sure I moved during the operations," she said. "[Lucky] is fitting. I don't think that there's a better name that could've been forwarded for this dog. There was a Facebook thread with a whole bunch of suggestions, and we looked through it, but the whole time I knew I was going home with a lucky dog."

For Steitzer, adopting a dog has been on her to-do list since she was a little girl. But, for others, like Deputy Chief Anthony Wasielewski, adding a new furry friend to his family was not in the cards.

"All of a sudden [Marley] came out of [the plane], came running to me, ran into my arms, gave me a kiss, and I held her for a little bit," Wasielewski said.

He was not looking to adopt a new dog until he met Marley at the scene of the crash.

"About half an hour later, she was walking up the hill toward where HAWS was parked. I got out of the vehicle I was in, I went to pet her, and she pulled toward me. I went home that night, and told my wife about her," he said remembering that day.

It was Wasielewski's wife, Becky, who convinced him to see Marley again.

"She bypassed my wife, jumped in my arms, and started giving me kisses. I started to tear up a little bit. I'm like, 'I guess we got to get a dog'."

The couple now owns three dogs, including Marley, who they named after Reggae superstar Bob Marley.

The Wasielewski's are not the only people who did not think they would be adding a new member to their family.

"I've been looking into getting another dog for a little while now, hoping to have a therapy dog. I didn't really expect it to be this soon, but I felt like it was kind of meant to be. He kind of fell out of the sky right in front of us," Firefighter Amber Christian said.

Christian adopted Artemis who she named after the spacecraft that left the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral the same day the plane went down.

"It was pretty special. Right away, the next morning after the accident, I was able to go to Elmbrook Humane Society. They let me visit all of him and his siblings, and he just kind of sat in my lap. He has a really good demeanor. He kind of picked me," she said. "He definitely takes care of me already."

Though these first responders have now rescued these animals for a second time, they say, the dogs are now doing the saving.

"There's a lot of hard things that we do in this job, and it's really hard sometimes to not latch onto those negative things. So, to have a memory of an event that is so overwhelmingly positive is just such a great experience. There is a lot of hardship, and a lot of loss, but this is something that is just, overall, a victory. It's going to be good to have that memory. When the days are hard, I'll still have my little Lucky," Steitzer said.

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