A couple have been banned from keeping animals for five years after leaving two pugs in a tent for so long on a hot summer’s day that they “cooked to death”.
TJ Gregory and Sarah Henniker left their two pugs Millie and Tito inside a tent they were living in for eight hours in July.
Temperatures outside had risen to 34C but were much hotter inside the zipped-up tent and when the couple returned they found the animals had died.
A court heard that the dogs had literally been “cooked to death” and showed signs of heat stroke.
All dogs can suffer from heatstroke but pugs are more prone to the condition because as brachycephalic dogs, with short, flat faces, they can struggle to cool themselves down properly.
Colchester Magistrates’ Court heard that Henniker left the tent at the Martello Beach Holiday Park in Jaywick, Essex, last year at 9am and came back after 5pm.
After realising the animals had died, the pair wrapped them in a sleeping bag with the intention of burying them later on but were challenged by security staff who alerted authorities.
Both admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.
Sentencing them, District Judge Timothy King said: “One can only imagine the way those animals must have suffered. It is a horrible way for them to lose their lives.”
Henniker, 33, and Gregory, 28, from Clacton, were both banned from keeping animals for five years and were both handed 18-month community orders with 160 hours of unpaid work each.
Both must also pay £390 in court charges.
The court heard that the dogs had belonged to Henniker since they were puppies and had previously been well cared for, although the couple had fed them soup and tomatoes when they were homeless.
Mark Pearson, mitigating for both, said they had never wanted to hurt the pets but accepted they should have known to come back sooner.
An RSPCA spokesperson said: “Dogs are vulnerable to heat stroke. Their bodies cannot cool like humans, and so heat can become dangerous very quickly.
“We’d always urge people to never leave pets in vehicles, caravans, tents, conservatories or outbuildings in the warm weather.
“Dogs – and other pets – can overheat and die if left in a hot environment. Pets should have constant access to shade, cool areas and lots of fresh water.”