44 Puppies Killed In Truck Fire

Police charged a truck driver and a passenger with cruelty to animals after a fire broke out in a trailer and killed 44 puppies.

The fire, which broke out Thursday night in a trailer being towed down Interstate 95, was apparently caused by a propane heater in the trailer, police said. A total of 68 puppies including German shepherds, cocker spaniels and dachshunds were found, and the 24 injured dogs were taken to a veterinary hospital.

David Cook, 48, of Jonesboro, Ark., and Edward Earl Ruyle, 37, of Filley, Neb., were each charged with 68 counts of cruelty to animals.

State police who were called to the scene found a large blaze in the trailer.

Officials from the Connecticut Humane Society said the puppies were being transported from Kansas to Massachusetts, where they were expected to be sold to pet stores.

"It was a tragic scene. It was very upsetting," said Richard Johnston, president of the Connecticut Humane Society. "The driver or the custodians do have a duty of care with respect to the proper care and transportation of these animals."

Johnston said five of the puppies were taken to Humane Society's headquarters in Newington. The remaining puppies will stay at the veterinary hospital until they recover.

In October, 96 puppies were found crammed inside a truck in Bridgeport after it crashed. Five of the puppies died. The case caused a furor, as animal rights activists demanded legislation to better regulate the puppy industry.

Written by Denise Lavoie
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