A US service dog unexpectedly gives birth to eight pups in the middle of the Tampa International Airport in Florida just before her owners boarded their flight.

Eleanor ‘Ellie’ Rigby, a two-year-old yellow Labrador who serves as a guide dog, delivered the pups with the help of Tampa Fire Rescue’s medical team.

Her owners knew she was pregnant, but did not realise how close she was to going into labour.

Ellie and father Nugget are now parents to seven males and one female pup.

Service animals are trained to assist people with disabilities, including guide dogs for the blind and hearing-impaired as well as for mental health and seizure alerts.

An airport spokesperson told Fox 13 that Ellie and Nugget’s owners, a woman and her daughter, were set to board their flight to Philadelphia with the two service dogs when Ellie went into labour.

The family – and their eight new additions – missed their flight.

Ellie successfully delivered her puppies amid a crowd of onlookers and with a little help from Tampa Fire Rescue staff Larry Glanton and Natalie Brown.

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