The owners of two beagles say their dogs died of heatstroke while boarded in an air-conditioned room at All Creatures Animal Hospital in Lutz two weeks ago.
No other dogs in the room died or had health issues, the vet said.
Like they had done dozens of times before, Nikki and Jeff Bennett dropped the eight and eleven-year-old beagles named Dakota and Daffney off Friday September 19 for an extended weekend.
The next night, employees walked both dogs. They were fine, and the employees left for the night.
Sunday morning, Dakota and Daffney were dead.
"We dropped off two healthy dogs, and we're getting a call at nine o'clock in the morning that they're dead. You don't believe something like that," Nikki said.
Based on their symptoms, the vet determined the dogs died of heatstroke which came as a shock to All Creatures employees.
Nikki and Jeff do not dispute that, they just don't understand how none of the other dogs were affected.
"We would like to know what happened, but we don't know if we'll ever get that answer," Jeff said.
The vet offered to answer that question by paying to send the dogs to a veterinary pathologist for independent necropsies.
Nikki and Jeff declined.
"Our dogs are already dead. We just want to bring them home at that point because they've been through enough. It's not what caused the death. Heat stroke is the cause. The question is why did they get exposed to heat stroke, you know. What caused the heat stroke?," Nikki questioned.
Three months ago, the vet said, All Creatures installed a brand new air conditioning system, and there are several fans positioned inside the kennel room that help circulate cool air all day, everyday.
The morning the dogs were found stiff, bleeding from the mouth and dead, covered in urine and feces, the vet said the AC system was operating perfectly just as it was the night before.
The Bennetts said their grief and frustration has nothing to do with money.
They wish Florida law was different, and pets were treated as family and not as property.
"At the end of the day, that's gotta change. I mean, legislation has gotta change. My dogs priceless. My dogs were my family," Nikki said.
Employees at the clinic are saddened about the death of these two dogs, and they said nothing like this has ever happened at All Creatures Animal Hospital.