Dogs Bound for K9 Training Die in 'Freak Event'

The air conditioning went out in the cargo area of the truck they were in
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2023 8:56 AM CDT
Dogs Bound for K9 Training Die in 'Freak Event'
In this photo provided by the Humane Society of Hobart, Ind., a dog suffering from heat-related injury is aided by a man inside the Road Ranger convenience store, in Lake Station, Ind., July 27, 2023.   (Jennifer Webber/Humane Society of Hobart, Ind. via AP)

At least eight German shepherds died Thursday while en route from Chicago to a K9 training center in Michigan City, Indiana, in what's being described as a "freak event." The driver was transporting 18 dogs when the AC unit in the separate cargo area went out. NBC News reports a two-hour traffic delay slowed the vehicle's progress on a day when temps in the area hit a high of 91. The driver stopped the vehicle in Lake Station, Indiana, after hearing barking. "Once inside the the cargo area, he observed the canines in distress and began to remove the canines who were crated," the Lake Station Police Department said in a Facebook post.

There was an "overwhelming response" from the fire department, police, and EMS, per the post, and civilians joined the responders and tried to help—around 60 people by one estimate. "The scene was chaotic and took an emotional toll on all that were involved in trying to save as many canines as possible." Police stated it was "not an act of animal cruelty or neglect but a mechanical failure of the AC unit that was being used in the cargo area." But the New York Times reports the local Humane Society of Hobart claims proper care and safety protocols were not followed. Humane Society Executive Director Jenny Webber says the "crates inside the truck were completely trashed on the inside and the little water bowls were the size you'd give a parrot," per the AP.

Webber tells NBC Chicago that she vocalized that she felt the driver "was not in compliance with several of our codes and that we should seize all pets," and says the owner then became quite angry. She says he cursed at her when she asked to see the paperwork that would have allowed him to move the dogs across state lines; she says vets in both states would typically need to give their OK, and she suspected vets wouldn't have granted it considering the day's high temps.

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Webber claims that despite her insistence that all dogs be hospitalized, the police permitted him to drive off with some of the surviving dogs in the "same broken truck with the doors off, without properly securing the animals." The Lake Station Police Department told the Times in a Sunday email that it wouldn't be making further statements until its investigation is complete. (More police dog stories.)

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