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Canada investigates Ukraine flight after 38 puppies dead found on plane

June 22, 2020 | 15:38

Canada has launched an investigation after about 500 puppies – 38 of them dead – were found on a Ukraine International Airline (UIA) plane at Toronto airport, officials said.    

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he puppies were believed to be French bulldogs, a popular breed in Canada that can sell for up to USD4,000. Photograph:

The flight was carrying approximately 500 young French bulldogs, 38 of which were dead up on arrival at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport last Saturday.

The surviving French bulldogs, a popular breed in Canada, were suffering from symptoms including dehydration, weakness and vomiting when they were found on the flight from Ukraine that landed at Toronto Pearson airport on 13 June, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said in a statement.

The agency “will determine next steps once the investigation is complete,” it said.

A dog handler who was picking up another animal from the airport cargo area where the puppies were discovered last Saturday told the CBC of a “horror scene”, adding: “It was a nightmare.”

Puppy sales are lucrative in Canada, Scott Weese of the University of Guelph told the CBC.

Most buyers believe the animals are bred in Canada, but the reality is “we have no idea how many dogs come in, where they go, where they come from,” he said, adding that there was “potentially some organised crime component”.

“You mentioned 500 French bulldogs. If those are going for sale at USD 3,000 to USD4,000 a dog, that’s a massive amount of money,” he told the broadcaster.

Puppy farming business

Animal welfare campaigners allege that the case is merely the tip of a thriving puppy farming business in Ukraine, driven by demand for thoroughbred puppies from unwitting consumers who are unaware of their new pet’s history.

“These commercial operations are run by large puppy mills that house and breed hundreds and thousands of dogs every year in typically unsterile conditions where the dogs are crammed together,” Lucas Hixson of SPCA International told CBC News from Slavutych.

In a social media post on Friday, UIA acknowledged the incident, writing: “Everyone at UIA offers 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.”

However, in an earlier statement to Facebook on Tuesday, screengrabbed by the Global News TV channel before it was deleted, the airline alleged that 24 hours after the incident it had received no official confirmation from Toronto airport or Canadian aviation authorities that animals had died.

The statement acknowledged that some 500 animals had been on board, adding: “UIA regularly undergoes an IOSA operational safety and quality audit, the standards of which govern the transport of live animals in a very strict and rigorous way.”

UIA is a member of the International Air Transport Association, which has voluntary measures intended to restrict the transport of live animals. In Canada, most airlines only allow two animal crates per flight and only fly with caged animals in temperatures below 29.5C, CBC reported.

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