American K-9 Detection Services, LLC (AMK9) has filed suit in Harris County, Texas, District Court, against Indian Creek Enterprises dba Animal Port Houston (APH) and its successor company, Live Animal Transportation Services dba Animal Port Houston (APH) regarding the deaths of fourteen (14) of its contract working dogs (CWDs) while en route to Afghanistan last December, 2010.
According to court papers, “The lawsuit arises from the tragic and wholly avoidable death of fourteen military service canines that were killed as a result of APH’s unlawful, negligent and intentional decision to leave the canines overnight in a sealed transport truck without proper ventilation. At the time of their death, the canines – which has been trained in explosives detection – were en route to Afghanistan to support U.S. military operations and safeguard American soldiers.”
AMK9 supplied the canines to Hill Country Dog Center for deployment to Afghanistan in fulfillment of a contract AMK9 had with the U.S. government. Hill Country arranged for the dogs to be flown aboard a Royal Dutch Airlines international cargo flight departing from Bush Intercontinental Airport on December 20, 2010.
On that date, fifteen dogs were transported from Hill Country’s facility to the airport 250 miles away by Hill Country employee Jason Dill and custody was transferred to Christopher Kyle Hay of Live Animal Transportation Services. Dill accompanied the canines, who were all properly crated in transport kennels, and Hay to the airline’s receiving terminal. Dill recieved a call from Hill Country to return one of the dogs back to their facility. According to court documents, Dill verified that the remaining fourteen dogs were safe, alive and in good health and left to make the 250 mile return trip to Hill Country.
Hay later called Hill Country to let them know that due to circimstances beyond his control, the canines would not be able to be transported on their originally scheduled flight and were in his custody until a flight could be arranged the following day. Court papers allege that Hay told Hill Country the canines would be safely boarded or housed in their kennels in a warehouse.
The suit alleges that early the next morning, December 21, 2010, Dill and AMK9 trainer Justin Rutherford arrived to find the dogs had been left overnight in a sealed, unattended refrigerator box truck rather than in the boarding facility or the warehouse as expected. The truck was running and the door was partially open, but there was no response from the canines when Rutherford and Dill called to them.
Inside, the two were met by a rancid odor, unresponsive dogs, blood on the floor of the truck and the crates, and that two of he kennels had been damaged by dogs apparently trying to escape the situation.
All fourteen dogs were dead.
Hays is reported to have said the dog’s were alive the last time he checked, but admitted that the climate control unit, which he says he’d set to 68 degrees, was not blowing cool air. The truck’s cooling gauge showed the temperature inside the truck was 77 degrees.
AMK9 alleges that APH breached its obligation by failing to properly board and care for the canines in its custody. In a statement on their website, AMK9 says:
“Prior to this tragedy, hundreds of CWDs have been deployed without incident. The safety, security, and comfort of AMK9’s CWDs are of great importance to the Company – AMK9 considers its CWDs to be part of the AMK9 family.
“AMK9 acknowledges that no lawsuit can bring back the deceased CWDs. However, the tragic death of these fourteen (14) CWDs was wholly avoidable, were it not for the negligence of the defendants named in the suit.
“The loss of these fourteen (14) CWDs has not only had an effect on AMK9 as an organization; it has impacted the people who make up AMK9 as well.”
You can learn more about American K-9 Detection services on their website.