Nearly two dozen puppies were found unresponsive inside an SUV at the U.S.-Mexico Border Saturday, San Diego County Animal Services said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers found 23 dogs -- 20 of them puppies -- unresponsive inside a hot and humid vehicle at the San Ysidro Border Crossing, authorities said.
Officers feared the animals were dead when they first discovered them because they weren’t moving.
Once their crates were moved into the fresh air, many of the dogs seemed to wake up, but two weren’t responding, so animal control officers took them to an emergency veterinary facility.
The driver of the SUV, identified as Daniel Canedo, told animal control officers the dogs had last been given water five and a half hours before he was stopped at the border.
“The driver said he picked up the dogs in Tijuana and was taking them to Los Angeles, but we don’t know what the final outcome of these animals would have been,” said County Animal Services Director Dawn Danielson in a statement. “Under federal regulations, it’s illegal to import animals under six months old for resale.”
The puppies are currently being cared for at the County’s Bonita shelter.
The two dogs taken to the emergency veterinary hospital were treated and reunited with the other puppies in Bonita Sunday.
The puppies range in age from six months to two years old. They are various breeds and mixes, including shepherds, Labradors, Chihuahua, hounds and terrier blends.
The department’s rescue partners are taking some of the puppies. The rest of the puppies, including three adult dogs, will be available for adoption starting Tuesday.
Canedo was charged with 23 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. If found guilty, he could face six months in county jail, a $1,000 fine or both for each count.