Usually it is the humans who do the adopting from animal rescues, but this time a dog is stepping up to the task, for a litter orphaned by the Oklahoma tornadoes.
JoAnn Palko, president and founder of Second Chance 4 Pets Network, said a volunteer with her group posted information on her Facebook page about a stray 2-year-old Rottweiler mix at a South Bend animal shelter that was ready to give birth and scheduled to be euthanized.
"One of our volunteers said she'd take her," Palko said.
When volunteers from Guardians for the Green Mile — a group dedicated to transporting dogs slated for euthanasia to rescues in Northern Indiana — went to pick up the dog, she was already in labor.
"Her contractions were really mild and the vet said it could take up to 24 hours for her to have puppies," Palko said.
The volunteer put the dog, dubbed Bertha, in a child's swimming pool at her home and watched the mom-to-be carefully but after 24 hours, the puppies still had not been born.
"They took her to the vet and they did an emergency C-section on her but all of her puppies, eight of them, were dead," Palko said.
Palko's group put the word out to other rescues in the region, saying they had a lactating dog who could help if any group had puppies who needed to nurse.
Lakeshore PAWS, a Porter County-based rescue, had just acquired six newborn puppies from an Oklahoma City shelter through a volunteer who went to help in the wake of the devastating tornadoes there.
The puppies' mother, a pit bull/shepherd mix, was deemed aggressive and put down before she could be rescued.
Lakeshore PAWS brought the six orphaned pups to the bereaved Bertha at the foster's Merrillville home to see how they would get along.
"She was unsure at first, but the foster got into the pool with her and she started cleaning them right away," Palko said.
Jeanne Sommer, director of Lakeshore PAWS, said the partnership with Second Chance was "just awesome."
"Here they had this sad mom and we had these puppies who needed help," Sommer said. "It worked out great for all of us."
The puppies, who are just over a week old, are thriving, Palko said.
"She's a fantastic mom," Palko said. "My foster says she doesn't even want to go outside to go to the bathroom and leave her puppies."
Second Chance is now considering training Bertha to be a therapy dog.
Sommer said volunteers from Lakeshore PAWS returned to Oklahoma this past weekend and brought back seven more dogs in need following the tornadoes.
"The need is always there," she said.