Two dogs die under care of Costa del Sol-based pet company

LAST UPDATED: 30 Aug, 2014 @ 12:58
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Two dogs die under care of Costa del Sol-based pet company

Exclusive by Wendy Williams

A BRITISH family is demanding action after their ‘precious pug’ died while being transported between Spain and the UK.

Dianne Lunt, 54, from Marbella, alerted the authorities after her daughter Amy’s beloved pet Wasabi allegedly collapsed from heat exhaustion and suffered a cardiac arrest while in the care of courier company Pet Taxi.

The mother-of-three called in police after the dog failed to arrive at an address in Suffolk last week.

The UK authorities are now investigating after it emerged that the Torre del Mar-based company was warned about its vehicles only three months ago.

It is understood that up to seven other pets may have been temporarily handed to the RSPCA to care for after the van arrived in Dover, minus the body of Wasabi which was left in Calais.

Lunt, who has lived in Spain for 28 years, told the Olive Press: “I got a call from boss Jeremy Griffiths on Tuesday evening telling me he was dead.

“He was unbelievably cold. I couldn’t speak. I was in shock.”

She continued: “Wasabi was so loved and we were so careful about who we chose to take him home.

“Jeremy assured us he and his staff were all pet lovers and we trusted him. “Now the vet has confirmed he died of heat exhaustion, causing cardiac arrest.

“I doubt my children can ever forgive me, but I do intend to stop it ever happening again.”

Shockingly, another owner has also come forward to reveal that his golden retriever Dexter also died three years ago in similar circumstances.

Roger Holdsworth, from La Mairena in Marbella, explained how a French vet told him Dexter had also died from ‘heat exhaustion’.

“This is despite frequently contacting Pet Taxi for updates during the trip and always being reassured he was doing well,” he said.

“You can imagine my horror when I heard he had collapsed and died.

“We still feel his loss and are tormented by the circumstances of his death,” he added.

Tellingly the new death comes just months after expat Alec Strathern also denounced Pet Taxi after claiming the van his three dogs were transported in ‘was in a deplorable state’.

“The air conditioning was broken and there were holes in the floor that we had to tape up to stop the exhaust fumes seeping in,” claims Strathern, who also travelled in the van on the trip back to the UK.

He was so angry he demanded the van be inspected by Defra when it arrived in Dover.

“Defra condemned the vehicle and the lack of permits and only allowed us to continue the journey subject to a later vehicle inspection.”

He added furiously: “I can’t believe the company has got away with it this long and is still taking orders.”

Boss Griffiths however, denies the accusations and claims he is ‘mortified’ that Wasabi died in his care.

“He was taken to the vets for a post-mortem as the customer instructed,” he said.

But he refuted Lunt’s claim that the post mortem ruled he died from ‘excessive heat and dehydration’.

“It wasn’t heat exhaustion at all. The vehicle is fitted with air conditioning. He had suffered a collapsed trachea in the throat,” he insisted.

“The pug was overweight and I raised concerns before the journey, especially as we had to take him to the vet as he had thousands of ticks.”

He continued: “The claims we are operating illegally are rubbish. We are Defra registered. I have heard nothing from Defra since the incident.

“I am devastated about what happened but we are continuing as normal.”

Defra confirmed a vehicle had been intercepted at Dover in a joint operation between Dover Police and the Animal Health and Vetinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA).

An AHVLA spokesman said: “The incident has been referred to the local authority for investigation. We cannot comment on individual cases.”

42 COMMENTS

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  1. “he had thousands of ticks”

    Hmm, doubt it. Did he count? Pugs are small; if they had thousands of ticks the pug would be one enormous tick. In any event why did Mr Griffiths accept such an unhealthy animal?

    “..we were so careful about who we chose to take him home”

    Picking a company from the adverts is not being te most careful. Never use these cowboy operators. Take your pet in your own vehicle – the pet owner above actually drove behind the van!

  2. Please everyone who is reading this be aware that Jeremy Griffiths of Pet Taxi DID NOT have anything to do with the post mortem of our precious dog, we insisted that his little body be taken to Calais where a vet that we arranged met the van and took his body away. He asked to see inside the van to see both the conditions and to check on the other dogs, he was very firmly refused. Mr Griffiths has not seen the post mortem or has ever asked to, or indeed contacted us to see how we are. How dare he suggest that Wasabi was unhealthy, uncared for and covered with ticks. This man is not only a liar but also a thief. I sent him a request that he replaces the money taken from my credit card for the transportation of Sabi, he never answered my requests, and since has now taken even more money from my card! I didn’t know people like him existed

  3. My heart breaks for these pets and their owners, but I must agree with Fred’s comment above–What’s the point of hiring a company to transfer your pet by van if you’re going to follow directly behind the van? Why not just transport them yourself to ensure their safety?

  4. How can the guy take more money from your account without you verifying it….he can be done for fraud….I would slap him into court so quick his feet wouldn’t touch the ground… broadcast the company as much as possible so it does not happen to another pet.

  5. There are few options for many animal owners, I will not fly my dog, nor will I use a pet carrier. If I want/need to take her out of Spain it will have to be in transport with me with adequate stops for food water and exercise. Not what seems to be the norm for some carriers.

  6. I had the company bring my dog out to Spain a few years ago and although my dog arrived relatively healthy, not only did he arrive later than expected with no real explanation and was dehydrated. He had developed problems as a result of the heat and was sunburnt on his nose (although how this occurred in the van I do not know). He recovered but it was a lesson well learnt – if we go anyway our precious cargo goes with us and I trust his care to no company like this. They do not take adequate precautions and do not stop often enough for water and exercise.

    I notice the pet taxi website has now disabled all internal links on their website. I would say not all is as well as they are claiming.

  7. Dog-E Transport are the best, most reliable and all round choice for transporting your animals. The animlas are genuinley treated like family… proper feeding, walks and toilet stops and ongoing updates all the way to their destinations. You’ll find them on facebook. Also, please be aware that this heading/article has nothing to do with “In The Doghouse” which is an excellent professional dog training organisation on the coast.

  8. These are horrific incidents and this sort of thing is one of the reasons our site Spanimal.org has created an animal transport reviews section (see “http://spanimal.org/pet-transport-reviews”). There are clearly cowboy operators out there and they need driven out of business. If you have used an animal transport company, please add your reviews (both positive and negative) to Spanimal. If the company you used is not listed at “http://spanimal.org/pet-transport-reviews”, please email us at “[email protected]” and we will add them. Pet Taxi will be added to the reviews list today.

  9. To Dianne and Roger and your families and anyone else who has ever been in this position, my heart goes out to you. Friends of mine booked their cats with Mr Griffiths, but due to incompetence on the company’s part, dates of transport forever changing, being told the pet passports were faulty and needed changing (they weren’t), making up bizarre reasons why he wouldn’t return the passports, and then when at last a date was agreed the company said that a rather ‘unruly dog’ (cannot remember the exact words used, hence the quotation marks) was going to travel and they didn’t think that the cats should go as the dog might upset them (the cats were booked first). This happened the evening before the cats were due to travel.
    The stress and angst caused by this man was incredible. Thankfully, the cats were then booked with a DEFRA registered carrier, who delivered the cats safely and unstressed at the appointed time. Mr Griffiths broke the contract with my friends, but insisted that they had broken the contract when they decided that the cats would not travel with the ‘unruly’ dog and has refused to return the money, the full amount was taken. Bizarrely, Mr Griffiths also took my friends’ cats’ passports with him to the UK, even though the cats didn’t go. It took a couple of weeks to get them back.

  10. My heart goes out to the owners of these dogs – Wasabi (recently) and Dexter (about 3 years ago). I know what they must be going through. As a dog psychologist, I would never recommend that any owner allows their dog to travel unaccompanied (by its owners) on such a long-haul trip. I don’t know the travel time, but imagine it must be at least 48 hours from Costa del Sol to UK. The stress caused to the dog by this kind of trip is enormous, but if the owner(s) are present the dog is more able to accept the situation, and the owners can ensure that no serious harm is caused to the animal. These tragedies have happened with this company (Pet Taxi) also with MRW and, sooner or later, it will happen with some other company. Don’t take risks – go with your dog!

  11. Whilst Sylvia’s suggestion is clearly the ideal solution, it’s not always possible to accompany the pet/s on the journey for many reasons. Most commercial animal transporters only provide for transporting animals and not humans, and for some people it may not be practicable to drive themselves to the UK. Animal transport may not be ideal, but we should be working to ensure that the services these companies provide is first rate and that the cowboys are driven out of business. May I reiterate our webpage for adding animal transport reviews, it’s “http://spanimal.org/pet-transport-reviews”. The more reviews we have, the more information owners have on these operations. Thanks to the folks at Olive Press for enabling us to publicise the page.

  12. Sylvia – “As a dog psychologist…”

    I had no idea that there was such a thing. Is this a real branch of psychology? Is there a Dog DSM? Instead of talk therapy, is it bark therapy?

    Would you say Pavlov was the first dog psychologist?

  13. Thank you, Stuart – I won’t!
    An interesting point is, my daughter Cris and her husband used this company to travel from Barcelona to UK last year. Themselves, their cat and dog, plus all their personal belongings, travelled in the van. She has provided me with considerable insight into this company, both facts and opinions, in our private phone conversations. Cris has promised to post this information here soon, in her own words.

  14. David,
    I forgot to mention this – I also asked my daughter to put her review on your website. I hadn’t heard of it before, but very good website and great idea to have the ratings system for the transport companies!

  15. I didn’t realize that “dog psychologists” were such a touchy subject.

    How exactly do you become a “dog psychologist.” To be a (human) psychologist typically a person has to finish up their PhD in whatever field of psychology they are in (average time – 6-8 years depending on university/field). Being a veterinarian is similar in length of study.

    I was just curious if there was some equally rigorous track to study dog psychology. If dog psychology was, actually, you know, a real field. Or if it’s more Cesar Millan style; dog training, but with a good brand.

    What do I have to do in order to be a dog psychologist?

  16. I would like to had my history about pet taxi transport…..
    Last year we moved from Barcelona back to England, Jeremy the owner was the person in charge of our trip. We paid for travel and hotels but when we got to France we needed to pay the hotel!, on the phone he was very stressed and losting his nerves and saying it wasnt included….ok!
    One month after our arrival in uk my husband’s bank contacted us to aprove a transaction of 150 euros for a hotel and the big surprise was the person who wanted to do the shoping wasJeremy from pet taxi transport in south Spain!
    I didnt say nothing but only though…-l never ever will recomend this company for anyone…it was very hard and conditions a bit miserable!
    Also would like to say the driver was a very lovely man,but without any idea of animal’s needs and love he was just a driver and l thing for three days trip alone with a pet you should understand a little basicly their need!!…he was a lovely driver!
    l heard more things about Jeremy and his incompetent company and is a shame we couldnt do nothing to stop him…costing the life of some beloved members of our family!
    They are resting in peace, and l want to believe there is a dog’s heaven and they are so happy up there!
    Peace & Love
    Cristina & co

  17. Who are you “Reality” ??
    You are the reality of what you have inside(which is not even reality is luck of happyness)….talk a bit in the mirror and find if the thing you missing is some love…some atention or just to change your way of thinking, provably in that way you could see if someone study in one way or the other dog’s phychology maybe is because want to give love and understanding to another world….which use another language like you shoul do learn from the dog….move your ears and express with your eyes so much!
    If you want friends…..try to get them without opening your mouth….then you can call yourself reality!
    Dont ask anyone in that way to have your answer….go and check online .
    l wish you the best reality you can imagine!
    Bless you!

  18. Why so defensive over dog psychology? What about other psychological fields, like penguin psychology or reptile psychology?

    If someone said “I am a clinical psychologist” and I asked where they studied they would just reply, “Oh, so and so uni.” No one would be defensive over it. Same if I asked how someone became a veterinarian or firefighter. Nothing controversial or insulting here – aside from some name calling directed at myself (so rude). Just asking one becomes a dog psychologist.

    For example, where does one go to study dog psychology? Is the coursework demanding? Is there a Journal of Dog Psychology for publication of research I can look up some dog psychology papers in? What was your thesis on dog psychology about?

  19. To Reality,
    Before writting this message I thought if you were even worth the effort. I have decided that for the sake of clarifying a few things, I should spend a few minutes replying to you.
    First of all,what people are expressing in the forum are not opinions but facts based in their unfortunate experiences.
    On the other hand yours are only comments of someone who not only does not know anything about animal welfare but more to the point does not care either.The fact that Dog Psycholigy is ot a conventinal degree doesn’t mean that is not a valid and much needed area of study specially in a country like Spain.It will be nice if you focus in doing something oriductive rather than in attacking and trying to descreditate the hard work of people who are devoting their lives to help animals.
    Perhaps, you should consider writting in forums that do not involve compassion as clearly you do not have any.

    Regards

  20. Frankly I think Reality has a bit of a valid point. He may be a troll, he may be insensitive but it’s still a valid polite question jokily made.
    I got a price from this Jeremy guy to move our pets to the UK. He was the cheapest but we decided you get what you pay for and went with a different option as we weren’t quite satisfied all was kosher. We did use him to transport furniture and boxes from the UK, again because he was cheapest, there was a slightly inconvenient change of timings because he was so fast but all ended well.
    I have heard him being slated socially, repeatedly, by people (and there seems to be a fair few of them) who have nothing better to do than talk about whomever isn’t in the room. I’m sure this has nothing to do with the story though.

  21. David, there are now quite a few reviews on your website, spanimal.org – including my daughter’s – about the various pet carrier companies. That’s good, and I hope there will be more! It’s a pity someone has managed to deviate the original content of this forum by making irrelevant comments – but there is always someone out there who does these things…

  22. It is very sad to hear of the tragic death of Wasabi and Dexter, I can only imagine how painful it is for their owners. For your own sakes, if you can try to lose the feelings of guilt they are misplaced, you were trying to do what was best for your animals – it is not your fault that your pets lost their lives. Reading this article has made me worry though as my sister is planning to take her two rabbits and an elderly cat when she moves to Spain in the next year. They are like her children and she would certainly be devastated if anything happened to any of them. Her plans are to fly them though as her vet advised the shortest trip is best. Can anyone advise please?
    @Reality, I think your comments may have been misinterpreted. I think your attempt at humour was not appreciated, personally I did find the comments funny but it may not have the right time or place :)

  23. Jeremy also runs a ONE WAY VAN Hire company and is repeatedly refusing to return deposits to brits returning to the UK who when there cant do anything about it.

    Im waiting for 8 weeks since returning the van early to only just be told that there is a problem with the tyre that needed to be replaced. the bill….. £95 and still he refuses to release the remainder of 350 euros until he sees an invoice from whoever did the work.

    I have a lot of resources at my disposal and this one will be done on principle now. for all the brits who have been taken for a ride.

  24. Good luck Nigel, he is a terrible man and I hope you not only get your money back but also stop him from continually doing these awful things .. If its any help I had paid him for the transport of my dog by credit card, after killing my lovely pet he then took even more money from the credit card account. My bank Santander UK persued him and eventually credited my account with all of the money he took, of course he didn’t willingly do it but if you can prove wrong doing the credit card company, visa on my case, will try to help you. With enough complaints they will take away his credit card facility which would go a long way to stopping him cheating more people and killing more precious pets

  25. This man moved my furniture from uk to Spain refused to leave the country until the last 100 was paid so I paid it ( although would have preferred to hold some back until arrival was ok) he then came up with lies didn’t leave when he said.

    My furniture was damaged and broken when it arrived LATE!and at 10pm with only myself and 1 man to unload it all, I emailed him and he didn’t have the courtesy to even respond.
    This was 6 months ago and I am STILL missing various pieces of furniture.
    Then he tried to hold me to ransom
    I’m very sorry you lost your family pet how awful this man is a shark and doesn’t care about anyone or anything

  26. Hi Dianne & Rodger, I am sorry to read about the way your dog was treated. We are a removals company based in Sussex. We have been asked by lots of customers if we would take their dog or cat in the back of our lorries. This is something we have never done, not even on a local move. I looked into pet transport, then brought a fully fitted pet van. I had it inspected & approved by DEFRA. Then applied for a license to transport animals. Until I researched pet transport I did not realise that there were so many cowboy operators. There are auction websites for transport I tried a couple to get some pet transport. But found I was always undercut by unlicensed transporters. As a licensed operator I have to record time & places where we load, stop & unload. These have to be kept for 15 months. All pets in our van have water in spill proof bowls and are treated the same as our own pet. We used to have problems alway being undercut by unlicensed lorry operators, but VOSA got tough with them and impounded their lorries and disposed of them. Now you very rarely see an unlicensed lorry on the road. I wish DEFRA & AHVLA would that the same approach to unlicensed pet carriers.

  27. Transported three dogs from Spain to Newcastle in April with this company. My husband travelled in the van. We made sufficient stops for food and water and walks. There were six dogs and one cat including ours in the van. However l felt that the cage for our Pointer was not big enough and she arrived with abrasions on the elbows of her front legs and l commented on the exhaust system which was leaking slightly into the van. Jeremy did seem to have genuine concern for the animals enroute. The animals arrived on time and in a good state

  28. Michael, wasn’t reading the stories and seeing pictures of the van (link above) enough to turn you off using this company? I’m sorry, but it’s people like you that keep cowboys like Griffith’s in business. The exhaust fumes must have done wonders for the pets (not just yours).

  29. Two years on and the death of our lovely Wasabi at the hands of Jeremy Griffiths is still as fresh and painful as then .. I know I did the wrong thing entrusting him to this awful man but really fail to understand how Michael can say that although the exhaust fumes were leaking into the van transporting the animals that Jeremy “appeared concerned”! Really!! Please anyone reading understand that he has NO concern, NO conscience, please do Not trust him .

  30. Dianna Lunt was far to busy with her move to care about Wasabi’s well being, she was informed about the dog’s FLEA infestation before the transport left and asked for him to be transported anyway. She refused to print the autopsy report because she lied about what it said. She mistreated her dog which lead to his death. Jeremy didn’t contact her to inform her of his death did, one of the people with the transport did. The vehicle was stopped at Dover because she had rang them 13 times to ensure this. The vehicle was checked, certificates provided and continued on it’s way afterward. Why after all this time she still has a vendetta against this company, we will probably never know and as for the OP, constantly repeating articles to try and ensure these guys close down and ensuring that people lose their jobs is absolutely disgusting.

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