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CFIA investigating after shipment of dead dogs arrives at Pearson Airport

Last Updated Jun 19, 2020 at 6:45 pm EDT

Dozens of puppies were found dead after arriving on a flight from Ukraine’s capital to Toronto, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirms.

The CFIA tells CityNews a shipment of approximately 500 puppies landed at Toronto Pearson International Airport on Saturday. When they arrived, the CFIA says 38 dogs were dead, and many of the other dogs were suffering from dehydration, weakness or vomiting.

Dog handler Abby Lorenzen was at Pearson airport to pick up a cat on the same flight, to ship to a friend in Western Canada. The cat arrived healthy.

“When I was connecting the cat the following morning, I was able to go to the back of the warehouse and you can smell the remainder of the day prior,” she says.

As Lorenzen exited the warehouse and was walking back towards her vehicle, she took a picture of the animals in garbage bags dumped outside the cargo building.

“How does anybody do that to an animal,” Lorenzen says. “There’s no reason those animals should’ve been shipped the way they were.”

Ukraine International Airlines offered its condolences in a statement, adding it is “working with local authorities to determine what happened, and to make any changes necessary to prevent such a situation from occurring again.”

But the airline, in a Facebook post that has since been deleted, previously said it was unaware that the animals had died on its flight.

The airline went on to say transporting thoroughbred puppies, “carries a certain calculated risk,” adding, “senders, nevertheless consciously take the risk, since the business of breeders of purebred dogs and cats is some of the most competitive and high-margin ones.”

Just Paws Animal Rescue tells CityNews it believes the dogs were coming to Canada to be sold on Kijiji by unethical brokers.

Tamee, who is a co-founder of the organization, says they were contacted by a veterinary clinic about the sick and dead puppies, after a broker brought more than a dozen to the vet. She says nine were dead in his car. (Tamee requested CityNews not publish her last name for privacy reasons.)

Tamee is stressing the importance of researching when buying a dog.

“The biggest issue is people do not know where these dogs come from and who they’re supporting. These dogs are from puppy mills and these dogs are bred to make money.”

CFIA officials, who are responsible for regulating the importation of animals into Canada, are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding how the dogs died.