Two French bulldogs die as pet-sitter leaves them in hot car

A pet-sitter killed two dogs by leaving them in her car in 22°C (72F) heat without water.

French bulldogs Lila and Phab were found dead after their owner paid Janine Maloney, 49, to look after them for a weekend.

It was the first time Steph Pendleton, 62, had left her “soul companions” with anyone.

Cardiff Magistrates’ Court heard that Maloney, of Tondu, Bridgend, left the dogs in a car for hours on a sunny day.

She has been handed a 16-week suspended prison sentence.

Mrs Pendleton, a retired company director from Bridgend, returned from her boating holiday weekend from 3 to 5 September 2022, to be told both her beloved pets had died after being left with the Pet Patrol Club professional sitter.

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In written evidence, a vet said they believed Lila and Phab had been “caused to suffer” and their needs had “not been met to the extent required by good practice”.

The two dogs died when temperatures outside the car ranged from 16°C at 10:00 GMT to 22°C at 17:00.

The prosecuting RSPCA statement said: “The evidence indicates that the two dogs had been left in the car without any access to water, with none of the car windows open and no air conditioning active.”

It added that post-mortem evidence showed evidence of heat stroke or stress in both dogs.

“They were also both overweight, which likely contributed to their susceptibility to heat stress,” it said.

Maloney admitted causing the unnecessary suffering of the two dogs, and failing to meet their needs.

As well as her suspended sentence, she was given a 15-day rehabilitation activity requirement and a six-month alcohol programme.

She was also ordered to pay £500 in costs and £500 compensation, and was disqualified from keeping dogs for five years.

The court heard she had since closed down the business and said it was a tragic mistake.

Mrs Pendleton said: “I’m tortured by what my girls went through and the death they had.

“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.”

‘I have nightmares’
Mrs Pendleton said she and her partner Steve had had the dogs since they were just eight weeks old, and her daughters Emma and Beth were particularly 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,” she 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.”

Mrs Pendleton said the company sent pictures to the family the day before the dogs died, to reassure them of their care.

She added: “It has been horrendous. I have nightmares about what they would have gone through. I trusted this person.”

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