GASTON, N.C. (WNCN) — Officials said 13 beagles died in a fire that was set in a “horrendous act” Sunday afternoon near Gaston in Northampton County.

The incident, believed to be arson, happened around 1:35 p.m. at a dog kennel, according to a Tuesday news release from the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office.

When crews arrived at the scene, a dog kennel was burned, killing the 13 beagles inside the enclosure, the news release said.

“This case is being investigated as an arson,” deputies said in the news release.

Deputies have sought the help of the North Carolina SBI in the case.

“These innocent dogs did not deserve to be victims of this horrendous act,” the news release said. “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(s) responsible for this crime can be held accountable.”

Officials said anyone with information about the case should contact the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office or the lead case investigator Sgt. W. Killian at (252) 534-2611.