French Bulldog puppies unveiled to the press at the American Kennel Club in New York on January 31, 2014.

  • Around 500 dogs - 38 of which were dead - have been discovered on board a cargo plane from Ukraine that landed at the Toronto airport last week.
  • The puppies that survived were suffering from symptoms, including dehydration, weakness, and vomiting, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
  • A show dog handler, who was picking up a different animal from the area where the puppies were found, described it as a "horror scene."
  • French bulldogs are a popular breed in Canada and sales are lucrative.
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Canadian officials have launched an investigation after the "horrible" discovery of more than a dozen dead puppies on board a cargo plane from Ukraine that landed at the Toronto airport last week.

Some 500 French bulldog puppies, 38 of which were dead, were found on a plane operated by Ukrainian International Airlines, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The flight from Ukraine had landed at Toronto Pearson airport on June 13.

The puppies that survived were found in poor condition, suffering from symptoms including dehydration, weakness, and vomiting, CFIA said in a statement.

"CFIA officials are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding this incident and will determine the next steps once the investigation is complete," the statement said, according to Canadian broadcaster CBC.

Ukrainian International Airlines also issued a statement offering its "condolences for the tragic loss of animal life on our flight." It said it was working with local authorities in the investigation, the Guardian reported.

Abby Lorenzen, a show dog handler, who was picking up a different animal from the area where the puppies were found, described it as a "horror scene."

"It was just a nightmare," Lorenzen told CBC. "Canada and the federal government need to change the laws on the importation of these puppies," she added.

French bulldogs are a popular breed in Canada and sales are lucrative.

Scott Weese of the University of Guelph told the CBC: "We have no idea how many dogs come in, where they go, where they come from," adding that there could be "potentially some organised crime component."

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