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.”
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