Twelve dogs hoping to find a forever home died over the weekend after the air conditioning system failed inside the truck that was transporting them to an adoption event.
The dogs were among 35 that were in the back of a borrowed trailer when an “unforeseen and devastating mechanical failure” occurred, Georgia animal advocacy group LifeLine Animal Project announced Monday.
The Atlanta-based group claims it had been routinely checking on the animals during a five-hour drive to an out-of-state adoption event, but that the tragedy unfolded quickly and unexpectedly.
Crew members riding in the cabin were not notified that the AC unit in the cargo had given out as they passed through Mississippi and the vehicle’s gauge indicated the canines were enjoying temperatures between 65 and 72 degrees.
The dogs, however, quickly began to feel the effects of the outside heat, which reached highs of 99 degrees in the Hattiesburg area over the weekend — meaning the cargo section of the truck may have been as hot as 150 degrees.
When the crew conducted its hourly check-in, they found their 35 animals in heat-related distress.
Eleven of the poor pups passed away on site, LifeLine Animal Project said.
Two were rushed to a local emergency vet, where one succumbed to its injuries and another remains in stable condition.
LifeLine team members saved the other 22 dogs using emergency supplies they had on board.
The survivors were sheltered at the Southern Pines Animal Shelter in Hattiesburg, a city roughly 90 miles southeast of Jackson, until the dogs were able to make the trip back to Atlanta.
“This tragic loss has shaken all of us to our core. We will be hosting a vigil this week for our staff and volunteers to grieve the painful loss of these 12 dogs,” LifeLine said in a statement.
“Though this was an unforeseen and devastating mechanical failure, the loss is unfathomable. In this dark hour, we wanted to let our community know about this tragedy and we ask that you please support the teams with your thoughts and kindness.”
The heartbreaking loss comes just days after eight Chicago police dogs succumbed to a similar fate.
Nineteen German Shepherds had been packed into a box truck headed to a K9 training facility in Michigan City when the AC unit failed, killing half on board.
The cruel heat-induced deaths have not just been limited to canines.
On Monday morning, a 14-month-old girl died in Long Island after her grandmother forgot to drop her off at a daycare center and left her alone inside a sweltering hot SUV for eight hours.