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Thirteen beagles being used as hunting dogs perished in a kennel fire which the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office is investigating as an arson.

Captain Patrick Jacobs said the motive has not been established. The sheriff’s office responded to the fire outside Gaston shortly after 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

Jacobs said a dog kennel was burned and 13 beagles were found inside the enclosure.

The sheriff’s office has requested assistance from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. 

“We're asking for the public's help with any known information of this crime to contact the sheriff's office so that the individual (or individuals) responsible for this crime can be held accountable,” Sheriff Jack Smith said. “These innocent dogs did not deserve to be victims of this horrendous act.”

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the sheriff’s office at 252-534-2611.

The lead case investigator is Sergeant W. Killian.