HOWARD COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — A shocking and disturbing find at a rest stop ends with a dozen dogs dead.

Rochelle Ritchie has the story.

These are the helpless faces Howard County Animal Control found when they were called to a rest stop on northbound I-95 for a report of dogs in dire conditions.

“They immediately saw the dogs were in signs of heat exhaustion and extreme distress,” said Mary Phelan, Howard County Animal Control.

Hot, hungry and cramped, the dogs were stacked in cages–some doubled up. Howard County firefighters who helped save the dogs say they appeared to have not eaten for days.

“The more we pulled them out, the more we found that there’s more back there. And there’s some more animals in this one. And it just seemed like it was never-ending in the back of these U-Hauls,” said Captain Vincent Baker, Howard County Fire and Rescue.

One of the dogs died at the scene. Five of them that were brought to Animal Control have been adopted. But two of them, like Sky, remain. Unfortunately though, 11 dogs had to be euthanized.

Investigators say the owners were moving from South Carolina to Pennsylvania with nearly 20 dogs in tow when they stopped at a busy rest stop in Maryland. Animal Control says hauling animals in such conditions put them in an inescapable death trap.

“On this particular day it was 91 degrees outside. These animals were in two U-Haul trailers without any ventilation whatsoever,” Phelan said.

The owners have been cited with 18 counts of animal neglect and cruelty and have had to pay more than $1,000 in fines.

The pit bulls that remain, Laila and Sky, are both ready for new homes.

Animal Control says none of the dogs was used for dog fighting.

All of the dogs in the truck were pit bulls.

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