STAR PRAIRIE, Wis. (WCCO) -- A Wisconsin animal sanctuary is putting in the extra effort to find homes for a litter of puppies.
Typically, Home for Life doesn't deal in pet adoption. It's a place dogs spend their days when they can't be adopted because of age or medical issues.
But a special case showed up to their front gate back in November, and no one could turn their backs on a dog that needed help.
There is a new energy at the Home for Life animal sanctuary in Star Prairie, Wis. It comes in four hound puppies that run around the sanctuary with a constant craving for affection that's typical of any three-and-a-half month old puppy.
"They're very cuddly and they have the softest ears," Lisa LaVerdiere, executive director of Home for Life, said.
But for these pups, playtime also shows their progress after a difficult start to life.
"It could have had a really tragic ending, I think," LaVerdiere said.
The pups' mom was left pregnant, malnourished and abandoned outside the sanctuary one cold November morning.
"It was definitely below zero that day. I know we were all appalled that she was left in that condition," Kristine Mcintyre, who works at Home for Life, said.
Within hours, the dog, later named Rory, gave birth to a litter of 10. For the first three weeks, the staff wondered if the puppies would survive. Rory was so malnourished that they wondered if she would be able to ween the litter.
"They all made it. It was really a miracle," LaVerdiere said.
As the puppies recovered, LaVerdiere started thinking of their future.
"We wanted these puppies to have a really special start in life so they would have great homes and not have to go through what their mom went through," she said.
Obedience began early with the help of Boys Totem Town, a detention center for boys.
By training the dogs, the boys learned life lessons in responsibility while the dogs learned lessons in behavior.
"The puppies give them a lot of love and I think the kids get a lot out of seeing the progress of the puppies every week," LaVerdiere said.
This extra care has helped place six of these pups in loving homes, with four more still waiting to find a family.
"We want to do everything we can to make sure they have a home for life," she said.
Lisa said they still have no idea who left the dog outside their sanctuary. The puppies have had their shots and are house broken.
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