Sweltering heat. Cramped, filthy crates. Days of confinement. These are the conditions puppies caught up in the puppy-mill-to-retail-sale pipeline often experience.

Last month, a Texas Department of Public Safety officer found 28 French bulldog puppies packed tightly in plastic crates in a moving van in Texarkana, Texas. It was 121 degrees inside the back of the van, where the puppies had no access to food and water. Tragically, one puppy was already dead when help arrived, and four more puppies died in the days that followed their rescue.

The two drivers of the van were charged with 28 counts of cruelty.

The puppies were about 800 miles into a more-than-1,000-mile drive from Chicago to Houston. They‘d arrived in Chicago by air, from a breeder in Ukraine. It isn’t clear whether these puppies were destined to be sold online or in a pet store, but in either event this is another tragic example of profiteers in the pet industry putting animal welfare last.

Many animal advocates are aware of the suffering in puppy mills and the neglect sometimes experienced in pet stores, but there is less awareness about the transport involved in getting puppies from mills to retail outlets or directly to consumers. Puppies are often taken from the puppy mills at which they’re born to a midwestern broker—there are some major brokers in Missouri and Iowa—who may transport them in a cargo van with more than 100 other puppies. If the destination is a store in some distant location, the puppies may be in these vehicles for several days. With no opportunity to get out of their crates, their own waste builds up right underneath them.

Puppies are baby animals with immature immune systems, and they suffer greatly in these conditions. Extreme heat is especially dangerous for dogs with short flat snouts who are prone to brachycephalic airway syndrome, a condition that causes inefficient breathing and cooling.

In the case of the French Bulldogs, the Humane Society of the United States reached out to local law enforcement to offer our assistance. Our team stepped in to find a placement partner for the puppies. We helped provide financial support for their medical care while placement was secured, and the 23 puppies who survived the ordeal are thankfully receiving the care and love that they deserve at Chicago French Bulldog Rescue.

Our Stop Puppy Mills campaign is working to end this cycle of cruelty. We have helped California and Maryland ban the sale of commercially raised puppies in pet stores, and we hope to make Pennsylvania the next. Ohio recently passed some of the most comprehensive protections for puppy mills dogs in the country.

But the votes that really count are the ones we cast in the marketplace. People can help put a stop to this cruel industry by adopting their next pets from a shelter or rescue group, or by purchasing them from responsible breeders who they meet in person. There’s no reason for animals to suffer the way these puppies did.