A family has been left ‘absolutely devastated’ after their beloved pet died from overheating on a ferry crossing last week.
Kirsty and Deane Wallace were travelling on the P&O ferry from Calais to Dover with their three sons and three dogs last Friday.
But when the Alnwick family returned to their car, following the 90-minute crossing, their four-year-old black pug, Merlin, was not moving.
They tried to resuscitate him, but it was too late.
Now, more than 9,000 names have been added to a petition urging ferry companies to change their policies on transporting animals and to take their welfare into account.
Kirsty, 32, and Deane, 34, were travelling from Detmold, Germany, to Alnwick to drop off their sons Dillon, 12, Ben, 11, and Blake, 10, and dogs Arthur, a beige pug, and Trixie, a beagle, as well as Merlin, at her parents’ home before returning to pack up ready to move to Surrey.
They are moving back to the UK as Deane, who is in the Army, has been redeployed.
Kirsty said: “Our family has been left devastated by something that was preventable.
“We put three healthy, hydrated dogs on the ferry and we came back to this nightmare.”
The family were directed onto a higher car deck before they got on the ferry.
Kirsty says that the ferry’s policy meant they were not allowed to return to the car, or stay with the pets, despite the day’s soaring temperature.
She added: “When we got back to the car, Trixie and Arthur were going crazy. It sounds stupid, but it’s like they were trying to tell us.
“I saw Merlin lying down. Deane got in and shook him saying his name.
“He saw he wasn’t moving and he pulled him straight out and Merlin was floppy.”
Water was thrown over him and Deane tried to give mouth-to-mouth.
“A staff member brought an oxygen tank and they worked and worked on him, but we could see he was gone,” Kirsty said.
“It was the worst experience ever.”
A vet said the high temperature, and his coat being black, meant he most probably died from overheating.
She added: “Merlin being a pug may or may not be a factor.
“But we live in Germany where we have had many a hot summer. Recently we’ve been 30-plus degrees daily and he never struggles.
“Our other pug Arthur struggles with the heat, but never Merlin.
“We have never, ever blamed the company, we simply want them to make changes so this never happens again.
“There are a variety of solutions like offering ventilated kennels, allowing owner(s) to sit with the pets, or visit them, having a pet deck/room, as paying for the pets to travel obviously doesn’t mean that staff will look out for them.”
A statement from P&O Ferries, on their Facebookpage, says that the company is reviewing its policy regarding the carriage of pets.
It added: “On the ship concerned, ventilation of the deck where the vehicle concerned was parked is excellent with a constant through-flow of cooling fresh air along the entire length of the deck.
“This was a hugely distressing incident for the family concerned and for P&O Ferries’ personnel who tried to revive the animal for 20 minutes, administering CPR and oxygen. The family has the company’s sincere sympathies.”