In what is being called a "tragic accident," 10 German Shepherds who were being transported from Denver, Indiana to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas were found dead on arrival on Monday this week. According to the El Paso Times, the deaths were due to being transported in a vehicle that allegedly experienced mechanical failure relating to the air conditioning. Out of 17 German Shepherds, two were seen to by veterinarians for dehydration and heat exhaustion, while five others were deemed healthy.
Fort Bliss houses a canine training center that pairs dogs with customs officers. The Army does not run the training center, nor is it responsible for transporting the dogs. The animals were owned and transported by Vohne Liche Kennels which operates out of Denver, Indiana. Ken Licklider, the owner of Vohne Liche Kennels, said, "We take dogs to California and all over the world. We are very experienced in transporting dogs. This was simply a tragic accident."
Fort Bliss spokeswoman Maj. Joe Buccino said, "This is pretty horrifying. I think everyone that heard this story is pretty upset by it. Those dogs were essentially in an oven. You don't have to be an animal lover to be sick about this."
According to the Vohne Liche Kennel website, the company owns a 350-acre facility and maintains between 120 and 160 dogs at any given time. They have worked with organizations in over 30 states, as well as members of federal organizations such as the Secret Service, U.S. Army, and U.S. Navy. "We are heartsick over this," said Licklider. "These are our dogs. We'll do everything we can to ensure this doesn't happen again. We're going to look at all our systems. Accidents are accidents and this just sounds like a tragic accident."
The seven surviving dogs have been sent back to Indiana.