12/14/11, "Lawsuit: 14 bomb-sniffing dogs on way to Afghanistan died in truck," Houston Chronicle, Allan Turner
"The death of 14 bomb-sniffing dogs allegedly housed in an unventilated sealed truck while awaiting air shipment from Houston to military forces in Afghanistan has spawned a lawsuit in which requested damages may top $1 million.
Lawyers for the dogs' owners, Florida-based American K-9 Detection Services said the animals — German shepherds and Belgian Malinois — died on Dec. 21 while housed in a truck at Animal Port Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport facility.
In an unsuccessful bid to settle the matter without going to court, a Houston lawyer for the Florida company asked the defendants to pay $1.3 million in damages and $30,000 in legal fees.
According to the lawsuit, the animals — Tiny, Rex, Rocky, Crock, Dork, Harrie, Stress, Sigo, Rex, Jaco, Kimbo, Kilo, Albert and Bak — were taken the Houston shipping facility on Dec. 20. A veterinarian had certified all were in good health.
When it was not possible to ship the animals on a same-day flight, the lawsuit contends Animal Port Houston employee Christopher Hay said the dogs would be boarded overnight in the company's kennel and warehouse.
The animals were to be flown to Afghanistan Dec. 21, 2010. But when agents for the dogs' owners visited the shipping facility early on that morning, they found the animals inside an unattended refrigerated box truck, the lawsuit says. The truck was running with the doors partly ajar.
The agents smelled a rancid odor, the lawsuit says, and when they shook the crates, the dogs inside failed to move. They found blood on the truck floor and in some crates and damage that suggested two animals had tried to escape the containers.
All the dogs were dead. Hay who now is the owner of Live Animal Transportation Services said Wednesday he was familiar with the incident but unaware he had been named in the lawsuit.
Thomas Schooler, owner of Indian Creek Enterprises, could not immediately be reached for comment."