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Animal Rescue

18 Reasons to Live: Pregnant 'Death Row' Dog Adopted Off Rescue's Euthanasia List, Gives Birth Two Weeks Later

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Ava and her 18 Royals/Facebook

Ava was saved just in the nick of time.

The pregnant golden retriever-chow mix, who is believed to be between 2 and 4 years old according to WDAF – TV Kansas City, was pulled off a Missouri shelter’s euthanasia list by Ashlee Holland only two weeks before giving birth.

“She was on the euthanasia list. She had no other choice, no other hope,” said Holland. “I was basically her last resort along with Midwest Animal ResQ. No dog deserves to be put to sleep for space.”

As the shelter’s Facebook post noted, Holland had never fostered a mother dog before but she couldn’t turn away from the mama dog in need.

“I was aware she was having puppies, but X-rays didn’t show how many,” Holland told WDAF.

On June 25, Ava went into labor. Her first puppy was born at 10:02 p.m., then four more arrived within the hour.

Ava and her 18 Royals/Facebook

“She took a little break, had puppy no. 6, another break and then puppy no. 7 at 12:33 a.m.,” Holland posted on Facebook. “All signs showed that she was done having puppies as she had calmed down, wasn’t having anymore contractions, and was caring for her 7 new babies.”

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Turns out the new mom had a lot more love to bring into the world.

“Ava got cleaned up and taken care of and her bedding was changed and we called it a night, only to wake up to 8 more puppies!!! We were now at 15! I had to tend to my kids and get them ready for summer school and came back to find out she had given birth to another 3 pups! This mama is incredible!” wrote Holland.

In all, Ava delivered 18 healthy puppies. Said Holland, “It’s overwhelming. It’s incredible. I didn’t just save one life, I saved 19. It’s amazing.”

The animal lover and her 9-year-old son are Kansas City Royals fans, so accordingly, they’ve named the puppies after players on the team. “We got Ned Yost, Dayton Moore, Buck O’Neil. We got Esky, Royal…” she said. “It’s heaven. Puppy pile, you can’t get any better than that.”

Ava and her 18 Royals/Facebook

Pending the pups’ medical exams, the tiny, adorable canine crew will be available for adoption in approximately eight weeks. Anyone who wants to adopt or help Holland care for the furry family can reach out here.