GREEN VALLEY, Ariz. -- Arizona firefighters helped rescue a litter of puppies from a deep hole in the desert.
Construction workers had been feeding their frail mother lunch scraps for weeks, unaware that she had a litter of puppies.
When they tried roping her to bring her to a shelter, she bit through the rope and ran to her den. Good Samaritans followed her and found the rest of her family.
"But the puppies wouldn't come near me. They ran back inside," Amber Gebhart said.
She and her husband went to a nearby Rural Metro Fire Station and asked for some help.
"I was expecting some hesitation from the firefighters, but they grabbed their shovels and out they went," she said.
A firefighter buried his head into the desert hole and pulled the puppies out one by one. Their mother watched from a distance.
"The firefighters were concerned about her turning aggressive, but she was very sweet," Gebhart said.
Six puppies emerged in the rescue operation. They, their mother and another dog were all taken to a no-kill shelter in southern Arizona.
"There's no doubt, most of the puppies would not have survived otherwise," Gebhart said.
The Gebhart family has adopted the mother dog now named Willow.