Multiple dogs being taken from Chicago, Illinois, to a K-9 training facility in Michigan City, Indiana, died on Thursday after the air conditioning unit in a vehicle cargo area they were being held in failed. Authorities did not specify exactly how many of the dogs died in the incident.
Nineteen German Shepherds were being transported from O’Hare International Airport when the driver of the vehicle they were riding in was caught in a two-hour traffic delay, according to Indiana’s Lake Station Police Department.
After the unit failed, the temperatures in the cargo area began to rise, causing some of the dogs to go into heat-related medical distress.
The driver was alerted by some of the dogs’ barking. He stopped the vehicle in Lake Station which is located about 40 miles southeast of Chicago, and entered the cargo area, police said. He saw the dogs in distress and began to remove them inside crates.
Lake Station fire and police were called. Police said the scene “took an emotional toll on all that were involved in trying to save as many canines as possible.”
“This is truly devastating,” said Jenny Webber, executive director of the Humane Society of Hobart, Indiana.
Webber, who also responded to the scene, claimed that protocol was not followed.
“I don’t think any veterinarian would’ve signed off on their health certificate given the temperature and the exposure that those pets would’ve been under,” she said…”I’m not even quite sure if they had any of that paperwork or any of the documentation they should’ve had.”
Weber told CBS Chicago that four of the dogs were eventually transported to the Hobart Animal Clinic.
“The driver left with four, and the rest were deceased, and he left with the deceased animals, and four alive animals that I recommended be hospitalized immediately,” she said.
She added that the surviving dogs appeared to be in critical condition.
They were alert but “clearly suffering from heat stroke,” she said.
Police said that investigators do not believe this was not an act of animal cruelty or neglect, but a mechanical failure of the air conditioning unit.
Webber said she is waiting for answers.
“It’s very confusing, very disheartening, and I would like a call from the chief of police immediately.”