It could have been a much different story with a much more tragic ending.

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Lander Pet Connection, an animal shelter in Lander, Wyoming, recently posted to their social media a story about four puppies who were abandoned at the city dump.

"Unfortunately, it's a very common scenario," said Ellie Fox, the Executive Director of the Lander Pet Connection. "We had someone reach out to us, concerned about animals who had obviously been abandoned at the local dump."

Fox said that after a concerned woman had called them about the puppies, she and her coworker had to develop a plan.

"We headed to the shelter, loaded up a crate, and got some treats - because you never know what you're gonna get," Fox stated. "We brought gloves, we brought blankets. We didn't know if we'd have to kind of trap them, or if they'd run right up to us. We didn't have any idea. We just knew that there were four of them there."

Except, there weren't four of them there.

"When we pulled up, there were three sitting right by one of the dumpsters," Fox continued. "They were all just huddled up and shivering and terrified because, you know, the backhoe is running right next to them, scooping trash into the dumpsters and they're just frozen in fear."

There were still just only three of them, though. Fox said that she and her partner scooped up the doggos, put them in the crate and then into the car. But the woman had told them there were four, so they tried looking for the one that got away.

"We essentially got on our hands and knees, digging through three inches of disgusting mud and trash and all that fun stuff, looking for this supposed fourth puppy, which we were not able to locate," she said.

Fox said that, at first, they thought that maybe the woman had just heard wrong and there really were just three pups. They spent about 30 minutes searching for the fourth musketeer, to no avail.

"We just couldn't find anybody," she stated. "And there was so much noise and so much happening that we just decided it was probably best that we get these three puppies back to the shelter and get them vaccinated and bathed and warmed up and fed."

They did that, ensuring that Mr. Pupperton (which is what we've named one of them) and his two friends were safe, warm, fed and, most importantly, loved on. After doing that, they went back out to the dump to try once again to find the mysterious fourth doggo. They spent 30 more minutes looking for it and, once again, came up short.

"We did lose hope a little bit and that's never a fun position to be in," Fox offered.

But then, a miracle - due to the actions of yet another good Samaritan.

"The next day, we got a call in the afternoon from this incredible gentleman who had been dropping off a couch or something at the dump, and he said 'Yeah, I thought there was a teddy bear on the ground, and then it started wagging its tale!'" Fox laughed. "I was on the phone with him and I was like, 'Is it black? Is it fluffy? Is it small?'"

Yes, yes, and yes!

The man had found the fourth puppy (whom we have named Theodore 'Teddy' Pennyworth), and he brought it back to the shelter.

"It was definitely the fourth member of the family," Fox stated. "She's just the sweetest thing and she was so happy to be back with everyone."

(Yes, she's a she. But we named her before we knew that, so 'Teddy' sticks).

Fox stated that Teddy did have an injured paw, so they took her to the vet on Wednesday to get her fixed up. Other than that, however, everybody was in tip top shape.

"It was just one of those full circle things," Fox exclaimed. "We were celebrating last night; it was a huge deal for us. We went to bed not feeling super great the night before."

It was a day of celebration, for humans and dogs alike. And it was an example of several different people choosing to do the right thing. In doing so, they saved the lives of four adorable puppies (Mr. Pupperton, Teddy the girl, Snuggles, and Chance - that's what we've named them).

It was a good day, and it emphasized just how important Lander Pet Connection is to its community.

"We're a small animal shelter in Lander," Fox revealed. "We are dedicated to saving the lives of homeless, Lander-area animals. That's our mission. We're a very small team and we work so hard to help people keep their pets, and be there if there is no other option."

Fox said that they are the only animal shelter in Lander, and they're one of only two shelters in all of Fremont County which, she said, is the size of Rhode Island. Lander Pet Connection serves both Lander and the Wind River Reservation.

She stated that the biggest way people can support Lander Pet Connection is via donations, volunteer work, and fostering.

"When you foster, you not only save the animals' lives whom you're fostering, you also open up a kennel for the next animal in need."

According to Fox, these four pups will be available for adoption in the next few weeks, after they are spayed, neutered, vaccinated, debugged, dewormed, and given microchips. They do the hard work, so that the only job of the adopters is to love the dogs (and, ya know - feed and water and shelter them).

"We were founded by Sid Miller and we were actually called the Dare to Care Animal League," Fox said. "And so that's what we challenge everyone to do - just dare to care. That's what these two people did when they reached out to us. And we're just so grateful - we love stories like that. That's what makes us tick."

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