GALESBURG — A puppy was saved from a flatbed rail car by two railroad engineers traveling through Wisconsin after leaving Galesburg late last week.

BNSF engineers Michael Ortega and Allen Au, who was working the shift as a conductor, were heading to La Crosse, Wis., from Galesburg last Friday when a train dispatcher asked the duo to check on a rail car of a different train that was stopped in Prairie Du Chien, Wis.

The dispatcher had received an outside call about a dog chained to a rail car.

"Towards the rear of the train, and sure enough there she was," Ortega said. "We got off the train and went to get her off of there, and she was just a real happy, friendly pup. You could tell she was real nervous."

"When I started walking toward her, she turned her back toward me. When I got up there and grabbed the chain, she kind of started jumping for joy and happy to see us," Au said. "She was an excellent little pup. Well mannered. She was hungry, couldn't wait to eat."

The puppy, subsequently named Lulu, was released from a chain that confined her to the flatbed rail car; she had been exposed to wind and heavy rains that had moved through the area.

"She was just tied with a short chain," Ortega said. "She really couldn't move or anything and there was food there, but it was all soaked with the rain and she couldn't really get to it."

Once the puppy — found to be a 6-month-old Labrador/Weimaraner mix — was inside the locomotive, Ortega and Au fed her some packaged chicken and tuna they had with them.

Ortega, a Bettendorf, Iowa, resident, said his family already had pets and figured "what's one more?" which led to him taking Lulu home. Au, a Peoria resident, said he already has five dogs and couldn't take another one in at the moment.

"There was no way we were going to leave her stranded or at a shelter," Ortega said.

While a visit to a veterinarian revealed Lulu is a bit underweight, Ortega said that should be fixed in no time. Au and Ortega both shared the experience on social media, which quickly spread, receiving positive reactions.

"It was overwhelming, the positivity and the overwhelming support that everyone has shown and the concern for her, because a lot of us have pets and we can imagine if it was one of our pets," Ortega said.

Au said he has heard from other railroad workers as far away as an Amtrak worker in Albany, N.Y., thanking him and Ortega for taking in the puppy snd sharing the story.

Ortega, who has worked for BNSF for 20-some years, and Au, with 12 years himself, both said they had never seen anything like this before but had heard stories from other railroad workers.

"I hate to see a sad ending, like dogs killed or anything like that. ... If you can’t take care of a dog, take it to the pound or the vet. Don’t leave it on the train," Au said. "If we didn’t get to her or things didn’t line up correctly, she wouldn’t have made it."

"I’m a dog lover, so I hate to see any dogs get in that situation. Even if one person sees that and thinks, 'Oh, that’s not a good idea,' that’s one dog or one pet to save."