Metro Detroit man's rescue puppies comfort strangers in Seattle plane hijacking 

  • Courtesy of Serenity Animal Hospital

Puppies can't fix everything, but they can fix almost everything.

Last Friday, when 29-year-old Horizon Air employee Richard Russell stole a Bombardier Q400 airplane from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and later crashed it in a fiery blaze 25 miles away, it wasn't just the media that was in a frenzy. On the ground at Sea-Tac, airline passengers were left stranded while security clamped down during its initial investigation.

With nowhere to go and no place to be, Newport man Steve Heim let his young brood of Spanish Galgo puppies comfort the grounded passengers. The nine pups-in-tow were Washington rescues that were bound for Sterling Heights' Serenity Animal Hospital. At just eight-weeks-old, the Spanish greyhound puppies were being transported by Heim from a neglectful owner in Washington.

Heim, who works with several Michigan-based canine rescue organizations, doesn't usually allow other people to interact with the rescue dogs. But in this case, he made an exception. The emotionally heightened atmosphere in the aftermath of the plane hijacking called for a little puppy love. In a statement made to the Detroit Free Press, Heim said, "A bunch of people were crying. Everyone was just scared and confused. So I thought, 'Let's try and turn a bad situation into a good one.'"

That turned out to be the perfect antidote to the otherwise stressful situation."Once they got the puppies in their hands, they were there for hours," Heim told the Free Press. "They just watched the puppies play."

Eventually, Heim and the nine Spanish greyhounds made it back to Michigan safely. Although the puppies are too young to be placed in homes now, they will be made available to go to a forever home during the animal hospital's yearly adoption event on Aug. 26.

In response to the media coverage that Heim has received for the story, he has launched a GoFundMe campaign to ensure that more Spanish Galgos dogs can be safely rescued from abusive and neglectful owners.

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January 26, 2022

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