A couple from Bridgend have said they are "living in a nightmare" after their two dogs died while under the care of a pet sitting company.
Steph Pendleton claims her French Bulldogs Lila and Phab, both aged four, died on Sunday 5 September, in the back of a car while under the supervision of Pet Patrol Club - a company based in Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan.
She and her partner Steve said they had gone away for the weekend and returned to be told their dogs had died.
They said they had given the dogs to Pet Patrol Club on Friday 3 September. When they arranged to collect them on the Sunday, the couple claim they were told the dogs had been left unsupervised in a car and had died of heatstroke.
"I'm tortured by what my girls went through and the death they had,” Steph said."Those dogs have only ever known love. I can’t imagine. I think about them and how they were probably waiting for me to come and get them while trapped in that car."Steph and Steve said they had the dogs since they were six weeks old, and Steph's daughters Emma and Beth were fond of them."We'd never left them with anyone before, so I really made sure we prepared and tried our best to do our due diligence,” Steph said."We were going on a boating holiday to west Wales, just for the weekend - but I was worried the dogs wouldn't be comfortable around the water.
"So I found the Pet Patrol Club on Facebook and contacted them. We then had a meet and greet session the week before, so the dogs could get used to it.”
The couple claim the company sent the family pictures the day before the dogs died to reassure them of their care.Steph then claims she was told by Pet Patrol Club that they had left the dogs in the back of a car unsupervised where they died. She said vets confirmed the dogs died of heatstroke.A retiree who spent most of her mornings taking the dogs over Merthyr Mawr, Steph described the moment she was told her dogs had died."We went home on Sunday evening and arranged for the dogs to be brought back to the house at 6pm," she said."At 6.05pm [they] arrived. We ran up to the car looking forward to seeing the dogs, but [they] told us to stop, and that the dogs had died."I collapsed, I was distraught and I am still in shock. I can't believe this has happened to me. I assumed there had been a road accident."Thank goodness my partner was with me when I was told. He was brilliant, because as soon as I heard those words my mind went blank."
Steph said they then travelled to a location to collect the dogs, and reported the incident to the RSPCA."The one thing I take comfort from is that I was told how the dogs died," she said.
"But we're extremely upset and traumatised - as are my friends and the equestrian and dog communities who have been wonderful.
"Without the help of the welfare agencies I wouldn't be getting through this."I was always out and about with my girls. My life has been blown apart."An RSPCA Cymru spokesman said: "The RSPCA cannot comment on individual cases for data protection reasons.
"However, we take all complaints of animal neglect made to us very seriously - and anyone wishing to make information available to us can always contact our emergency line on 0300 1234 999."Generally, we continue to highlight the serious risk posed to dogs of being left in a hot car.
"Being left in a hot car is a very dangerous situation for the dog - with heatstroke or even fatal consequences possible."Put simply - a dog should never be left alone in a car on a warm day - and anyone who sees a dog in distress in a hot car should call 999."Pet Patrol Club has been contacted for comment.