Eleven dogs among 50 being taken to Minnesota were found dead shortly after the transport van they were in broke down in northern Mississippi.
The dogs were being taken from Southern Pines Animal Shelter in Hattiesburg, Mississippi when the Ford Transit they were in broke down at 5 p.m. on Friday near Sardis.
Fearing a health risk to the dogs because of the intense heat, the volunteer drivers immediately started taking the dogs out of the van to keep them as cool as possible.
But when they unloaded the van, they found 11 of the dogs had already died.
It's not clear what caused them to die, though carbon monoxide poisoning is being investigated as the possible reason.
The shelter said the van's AC systems and ventilation all seemed to be working and the van was cool, and it's now trying to find out other malfunctions that may have affected them.
"To say that we are grieving and devastated by the terrible accident that occurred yesterday would be an understatement," the shelter wrote on Facebook.
"While, we don’t have all of the answers yet, our vehicle is undergoing a thorough inspection, and we will be working tirelessly to find answers," it added.
"We are committed to helping save the lives of pets in need, and any life lost in our care is something we take very seriously.
"We are heartbroken, and committed to continuing to do everything in our power to increase the safety of the pets in our care and the people working to save the lives of animals through transport."
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