At least 8 dogs being transported to a K9 training facility in Michigan City, Indiana died after the AC unit in the cargo area of a truck failed on Thursday, according to authorities.
A driver was transporting the German Shepherds from Chicago O’Hare International Airport when the AC unit keeping the dogs cool stopped working, according to the Lake Station Police Department. There was a total of 18 dogs in the truck, according to the Humane Society of Hobart, NBC Chicago reported.
The driver wasn’t aware of the AC unit’s failure because the cargo area was separate.
The vehicle was caught in a 2-hour traffic delay and the temperature began rising in the cargo area, causing some of the dogs to go into “heat related medical distress,” the police department said. The driver stopped the vehicle at a Road Ranger on Ripley Street in Indiana after hearing some of the dogs barking.
“Once inside the the cargo area, he observed the canines in distress and began to remove the canines who were crated,” the police department said in a news release.
The Lake Station Fire Department, police department and emergency medical services responded to the scene after 911 calls were made.
The “overwhelming response” from the agencies prompted civilians to stop and help the suffering dogs. The police department described the scene as chaotic, adding that it “took an emotional toll on all that were involved in trying to save as many canines as possible.”
At least eight dogs died as a result of heat-related illnesses, according to NBC Chicago. Others were transported to local vet hospitals.
The incident “was not an act of animal cruelty or neglect but a mechanical failure of the AC unit” in the cargo area, the Lake Station Police Department said.
“Any loss of life is tragic and thoughts and prayers are with all those that were affect by this ‘freak event,'” the police department said.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com