On Friday afternoon a van left the Southern Pines Animal Shelter in Mississippi, with 50 dogs bound for Minnesota. About 4 hours into the trip the van was forced to stop and they found 11 dogs had died.

Their Facebook page posted the following:

Today we are heartbroken as we share news of a terrible accident that impacted our shelter yesterday. Transparency and honesty with you—our community—is important to us, so we wanted to share with you all that we know.

Around 5 pm yesterday, our transport van broke down on the side of the road in northern Mississippi, near Sardis. Shelter management was immediately notified about the situation by the volunteer drivers, and the two volunteers immediately began moving the animals of the van trying to make them as cool and as comfortable as possible with the limited resources available. To our heartbreak, as they unloaded the van, 11 of our dogs were found to already have passed away.

At this time, we do not know what caused these dogs to pass, but we are actively trying to determine the cause if possible. Upon leaving the shelter all the dogs were alert and healthy, the van’s AC systems and ventilation seemed to be in working order, and throughout the trip, the van remained cool. We are working to investigate what other system failures or mechanical malfunctions could have impacted the animals on board, and we are hoping to find some definitive answers as to what happened.

To say that we are grieving and devastated by the terrible accident that occurred yesterday would be an understatement. As an organization who has successfully been a part of transporting more than 11,000 pets, the safety of the animals in our care is of the utmost importance to us. Every precaution was taken to ensure a safe journey for the animals aboard this transport. Our top priority at the moment is ensuring that the remaining animals are safe, and they are under the observation of our veterinarian and dedicated team. We are working to find answers to what mechanical failure the vehicle may have experienced and how it affected the pets on board. 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. 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.

We also just want to say thank you to all the compassionate passersby and to North Mississippi Animal Rescue - NMAR for their help yesterday in the aftermath of the accident. Thank you to the individuals who organized transportation for our stranded dogs to NMAR, and to NMAR for offering a cool, safe space for our dogs to stay while they received care and waited for their ride back to Hattiesburg.

Thank you all for your support of Southern Pines Animal Shelter. We understand that there will be questions and concerns, if you’d like to speak to our shelter manager further about this incident, please contact rescue@southernpinesanimalshelter.org.

Apparently, carbon monoxide may have played a roll in the incident.

Zoonar