An investigation is underway after dozens of French bulldog puppies died after 500 of them were found on board a Ukraine International Airlines plane at Toronto airport.
Thirty-eight of the dogs were found dead on their arrival in Canada.
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 which landed at Toronto Pearson Airport on June 13, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said in a statement.
"CFIA officials are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding this incident and will determine next steps once the investigation is complete,” the statement 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."
UIA offered its "condolences for the tragic loss of animal life on our flight" and said on Facebook that it was working with local authorities.
"UIA is working with local authorities to determine what happened and to make any changes necessary to prevent such a situation from occurring again," the Facebook post read.
Video shared to social media appeared to show the dogs in crates being unloaded from a car in Kiev, The Independent reported.
One witness also claims to have seen dead puppies inside bin bags outside a cargo warehouse at Toronto airport.
Puppy sales are "lucrative" in Canada, Veterinary Professor 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 $3,000 to $4,000 a dog, that's a massive amount of money," he told the broadcaster.
Animal welfare campaigners say many of the families who buy the puppies in Canada are unaware of their pet’s history.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.