Xavier puppies

It was a scene right out of a Bruce Willis movie — and an improvised one, at that.

Annie Hart, executive director of Los Angeles animal rescue group the Bill Foundation, was getting ready for bed when she received a call saying that a group of puppies needed her help.

Samantha Haas, who runs WagsAware, an organization that raises money for rescues, had seen a homeless man put four young puppies into a Tupperware bin and close the lid, leaving them with little air to breathe. Then, he boarded a bus.

Knowing there was little time to spare, superhero Hart “just kicked into action.” Within minutes, Hart was in the car with her husband, James, and their dog Arnold, racing to catch the bus and getting updates from Haas on its whereabouts.

Thinking quickly, she told Haas to drive slowly in front of the bus to stall it. "I had no idea this was something I’d ever have to do… I think I’ve seen too many action movies,” Hart laughed. But it worked. Hart could soon hear the annoyed bus driver honking his horn, and her husband got behind the bus.

“At one point my husband looked at me and said, 'You’re not getting on that bus are you?’” Hart said.

She was.

Xavier puppy

“Like a Lunatic”

In an account of the ordeal that she wrote on Dogster, Hart describes how when the bus came to a stop, she jumped out of the car and ran screaming to the closing doors.

“Like a lunatic I am jumping up and down, calling for the driver to open the doors,” she wrote. “Like a completely sane person, he drives away. I jump back in the car and we take off after it.”

At the next stop, Hart tried again, this time yelling to the driver that a man had puppies in Tupperware on the bus. The driver said, “There’s puppies on the bus?” and let Hart on board.

But she didn’t go running to the man and the puppies. She calmly paid the fare and texted Haas to get a description of the man as she tried to find him on the crowded bus.

Then, she started making small talk with the man, asking him about the puppies. “I told him, 'I’d love to help you and take them,'” Hart said. He resisted, but agreed to get off the bus with her. Eventually, she got him to give her one of the puppies, and she gave him money for it. One at a time, she got managed to get all but the smallest of the pups.

“You can attract more bees with honey,” she said. “He was a very nice man; he wasn’t mean or anything.”

Hart left with three puppies and met her husband and Haas down the street.

Thankfully, her husband, who’d never been on a rescue mission before, went back and reasoned with the man, saving the last of the puppies. “We all just broke down crying,” Hart said.

Elliot the puppy

Almost Ready for Forever Homes

The pups, who Hart thinks are a mix of several breeds including Poodle, Jack Russell Terrier, Husky and Chihuahua, were immediately taken to an emergency veterinary clinic, where they were treated for worms. At the time of the July 16 rescue, they were about 7 weeks old.

Three weeks later, the puppies, who were aptly named for X-Men characters Luke, Elliott, Raven and Logan, are in foster care — and are the stars of a new live video stream. (They’re referred to as the Xavier puppies, another X-Men reference.)

While most of them are doing well, Luke, the smallest of the puppies and the last to be saved, is facing some health issues. After testing, his veterinarian believes he has a liver shunt. But at only 2 pounds, Luke is too small to have surgery right now. His caretakers are hoping to beef him up so he can have the needed surgery. “Puppies are fragile,” Hart said.

They’ll be up for adoption after they get their 12-week shots, said Hart. If you’re interested in applying, or would like to make a donation toward the cost of the puppies’ care, visit billfoundation.org.