By Mike Fletcher Kokomo Tribune
---- — Ten dogs from Vohne Liche Kennels in Denver, Ind., died Monday while being transported from the training center in Denver, north of Kokomo, to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas.
Ken Licklider, owner of Vohne Liche Kennels, told the El Paso Times the air conditioning in the vehicle being used to transport the animals experienced mechanical failure. The dogs — German shepherds and Belgian Malinois — were being taken to the Canine Center El Paso, which is behind Fort Bliss’ 1st Armored Division headquarters and is a canine training facility used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The center is not run by the Army or Fort Bliss.
Two dogs were treated by veterinarians for dehydration and heat exhaustion, while five others were deemed healthy, the El Paso Times reported.
Fort Bliss houses a canine training center that pairs dogs with customs officers. The animals were owned and transported by Vohne Liche Kennels.
“We take dogs to California and all over the world,” Licklider told the newspaper. “We are very experienced in transporting dogs. This was simply a tragic accident.”
Licklider could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Fort Bliss spokesman Maj. Joe Buccino told the El Paso Times, “This is pretty horrifying. I think everyone that heard this story is pretty upset by it. Those dogs were essentially in an oven. You don’t have to be an animal lover to be sick about this.”
Vohne Liche Kennels trains dogs for police departments in Indiana and around the country.
It has worked with organizations in more than 30 states, as well as members of federal organizations such as the Secret Service, U.S. Army and U.S. Navy, according to the Vohne Liche Kennels website.
“We are heartsick over this,” Licklider said. “These are our dogs. We’ll do everything we can to ensure this doesn’t happen again. We’re going to look at all our systems. Accidents are accidents and this just sounds like a tragic accident.”