Pet-sitter who caused death of bulldogs in hot car avoids jail

Pet-sitter who caused death of two beloved French bulldogs by leaving them in her car for hours without water and closed windows on a sunny 22C day avoids jail

  • Pet-sitter handed 16-week suspended sentence and ordered to pay £1,000
  • Read more: Is this town the epicentre of Britain’s banned dog breeds?  

A pet-sitter who killed two dogs by leaving them in a hot car on a 22C day has avoided prison.

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

But a court heard Maloney, who ran a Pet Patrol Club to look after dogs, left the pair in her boiling car for hours without water.

She pleaded guilty to two counts under the Animal Welfare Act and received a 16-week suspended sentence. The business has been shut down.  

Owner Steph Pendleton, 62, described Lila and Phab – who were four-years-old – as her ‘soul companions’. It had been the first time she had left them with anyone.

French bulldogs Lila and Phab were found dead after their owner paid dog-sitter Janine Maloney, 49, too looking after them for a weekend break

Steph Pendleton, the owner to the two ‘beloved’ dogs, returned home from her boating weekend to find the pups dead

Retired company director Mrs Pendleton returned from her boating holiday weekend to be told both her beloved pets had died after being left with the professional sitter. 

RSPCA deputy chief inspector Gemma Black said the owner of the two dogs was ‘very emotional about what had happened.’

DCI Black said she paid a lady known to her as Janine for the weekend in September.

‘She told me that Ms Maloney claimed to have left them in the car during the Sunday, during hot weather and she believed this was how they died.’

In written evidence from a vet, they believed that Lila and Phab ‘have been caused to suffer’ and their needs ‘have not been met to the extent required by good practice’.

The two dogs died in temperatures of between 16C and 22C.

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.

‘The post mortem evidence showed that both dogs were found to have pathology changes consistent with having died via a mechanism of heat stroke/stress, having a number of hemorrhagic areas in the body.

Ms Pendleton and her partner Steve had owned the dogs since they were eight weeks old and said they had known ‘nothing but love’

Pet-sitter Janine Maloney left the two French bulldogs in her car on a day when temperatures hit 22C

‘They were also both overweight which likely contributed to their susceptibility to heat stress.

‘Undoubtedly the two dogs would have suffered as a consequence of excessive heat in the car under the circumstances of an external environmental temperature above 20C, poor ventilation and no access to water.

‘Suffering will have been experienced by these two dogs via a mechanism of escalating respiratory distress and an inability to effectively dissipate body heat.’

Maloney, of Tondu, Bridgend, appeared at Cardiff Magistrates Court after admitting two offences under the Animal Welfare Act.

She pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to two female French bulldogs.

Maloney also admitted failing to meet the needs of the dogs. She was been handed a 16-week suspended prison sentence.

She was also given a 15 day Rehabilitation Activity requirement and a six month alcohol programme. 

The pet-sitter will pay £500 in costs and £500 compensation to the dog owner and was disqualified from keeping dogs for five years.

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

The District Judge said there was a ‘blatant lack of care’ and on the day she did nothing and didn’t check on the dogs.

The prosecuting statement said the dogs would have suffered due to the temperatures in the car on the day that they died

Ms Pendleton said her family have had the dogs since they were just eight weeks old and that her daughters Emma and Beth were particularly fond of them

Before the case, Steph Pendleton, the owner of the dogs, 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.’

Ms Pendleton and partner Steve said the family have 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.

Ms Pendleton said of the death of her much-loved pets: ‘It has been horrendous. I have nightmares about what they would have gone through. I trusted this person

‘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 pictures to the family the day before the dogs died to reassure them of their wellbeing.

Speaking after sentencing DCI Black, said: ‘All of our thoughts go out to the owner of Lila and Phab.

‘We hope this tragic case reminds people that the risk to the lives of animals is so high. Our message is simple: never leave a dog in a hot car – ‘not long’ is too long, and if you see a dog in a hot car, call 999 immediately.’

Ms Pendleton said: ‘It has been horrendous. I have nightmares about what they would have gone through. I trusted this person.

‘I just don’t want other people and animals to go through this. I would like to thank the RSPCA for all their support and I would also like to thank the community for their support as well.’

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