The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is currently investigating the incident

By Claudia Harmata
June 22, 2020 02:29 PM
French Bulldog puppies
Credit: Getty

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has launched an investigation after dozens of puppies were found on board a Ukraine International Airlines plane at the Toronto airport.

Officials have confirmed that the flight arrived at Toronto's Pearson International Airport from Kiev on June 13, with approximately 500 French bulldog puppies on board, 38 of which were dead, according to several reports.

The Guardian reported that many of the surviving puppies were severely ill, suffering from dehydration, weakness, and vomiting when they were found

"Upon inspection, it was found that 38 were dead on arrival," a spokesperson for the agency said in a statement to Canadian broadcaster CBC. "CFIA officials are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding this incident and will determine next steps once the investigation is complete."

Abby Lorenzen, a dog handler who happened to be in the area picking up another animal told the outlet that the scene was a "horror show."

"It was a nightmare," she added. "Canada and the federal government need to change the laws on the importation of these puppies."

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Ukrainian International Airlines released a short statement offering "its condolences for the tragic loss of animal life on our flight."

"UIA is working with local authorities to determine what happened and to make any changes necessary to prevent such a situation from occurring again," it added.

However, the airline has not commented on why they allowed 500 animals on one flight, though it is a member of the International Air Transport Association, which has voluntary codes in place to restrict and ensure the safe transport of live animals, CBC reports.

French bulldogs are reportedly a popular breed in Canada, with Scott Weese of the University of Guelph telling the CBC that sales French bulldog sales can be lucrative.

"We really have no idea [what] the scope of the issue is. We have no idea how many dogs come in, where they go, where they come from," Weese, who is working with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to study the current federal regulations over concerns for diseases spread by exotic pet imports, said

"It is a big industry. There's no doubt about it. And it's been looked at more in the U.S. and there's potentially some organized crime component of it, too, in some areas," he added. "There are lucrative situations where you can buy large numbers of dogs fairly cheaply. You mentioned 500 French bulldogs. If those are going for sale at $3,000 to $4,000 a dog, that's a massive amount of money."