The Humane Society of St. Joseph County is investigating the Friday night deaths of 14 dogs in town for an American Kennel Club dog show at the St. Joseph County Fairgrounds.
St. Joseph police were dispatched at 6:18 pm to Quality Inn hotel at 215 S. Dixie way in Roseland. Upon hearing multiple dogs might have died at the scene. The Humane Society was called to assist the investigation, according to Lt. William Redman.
Police and the Humane Society found a box-style truck belonging to Lakesyde Kennels and Handling of Wellington, Ohio, parked alongside the hotel, and 14 dogs dead inside, Redman said.
The sad event contrasted with the show at the fairgrounds, a bright, lively scene with people in suits and dresses escorting perfectly manicured dogs inside of two dry, cool buildings, both of them air conditioned. Several people primped their pooches in booths where they waited, dogs both tiny and tall, with fur that ranged from a wiry hair to giant balls of sculpted wool.
The tragedy left organizers of the show “sad and torn up,” said Cheryl Crompton, of Mishawaka, who served as chairwoman for the Friday portion of events.
Redman offered the following account of the events leading to the deaths.
Cortney Corral of Lakesyde Kennels had arrived in town Wednesday for the annual dog show hosted by three AKC clubs: Michiana, LaPorte and Berrien Springs. All but one of the dogs was a golden retriever, and three were puppies. Corral owned some of the dogs, but eight other owners from around the country — who were not in town — owned some of the dogs, too.
The Lakesyde truck was equipped with air conditioning in the cargo area, where the dogs were kept. An extension cord was plugged into the side of the hotel’s exterior wall, providing power to the truck’s air conditioning. That setup had worked without incident Wednesday and Thursday. After Corral fed, watered and exercised the dogs Friday afternoon, though, and she returned the dogs to the truck and went into the hotel to nap for about two hours, a circuit breaker in the truck was thrown, cutting power to the air conditioning. When Corral returned to check on the dogs again, they had died.
Redman checked the external outlet and found it still had power. Police do not know what sort of malfunction might have triggered the circuit breaker. Police also could not determine any criminal act or intent, Redman said.
I felt it was just a tragic accident – he said
The dogs and the investigation were turned over to the Humane Society. Executive Director Genny Carlson accompanied Corral, the dogs’ bodies, and county officers back to the Humane Society.