A Canadian agency is investigating after a plane filled with 500 puppies landed in Toronto, and 38 of them were found dead. Others were ill—dehydrated, vomiting and weak, the Guardian reports. "It was a nightmare," a witness said. The Ukraine International Airlines plane landed June 13 Pearson airport carrying French bulldogs. Canadian law prohibits ferrying animals in an unsafe way that could injure them or cause suffering. There also are regulations to prevent spreading disease when importing animals, per the Globe and Mail. The airline said it was cooperating with the investigation and posted an apology online Friday, calling it a "tragic loss of animal life."
Flights often leave Ukraine and Eastern Europe packed with young puppies brought west for resale, said an SPCA International official in Ukraine. "These commercial operations are run by large puppy mills that house and breed hundreds and thousands of dogs every year in typically unsterile conditions," he said, per the CBC. There isn't enough room in the cargo hold to safely put hundreds of animals, he said, resulting in what the witness called a "horror show." French bulldog puppies can sell for $3,000 to $4,000 each, said a professor who is studying the issue with the government. "We have no idea how many dogs come in, where they go, where they come from," he said. (Read more animal welfare stories.)