A weekend getaway has ended in heartbreak for a Melbourne couple after their beloved French bulldogs died from heat stroke while in the care of a dog-sitter.
Jasminka Hewitt and partner David Loosz were on their way home from a friend’s birthday party when they received a call from the vet saying that little Hank and Dita were in a serious condition.
The dogs had been at the park when they became sick and both subsequently suffered seizures.
Ending lunch short, Ms Hewitt said she felt like she was going to vomit as they raced to the vet.
Weeping for the entire one-hour drive, she rang friends and searched how severe heat stroke could be before arriving at the vet where their worst fears were confirmed.
“We were led into a room where the sitter and his wife were talking to the vet. He couldn't look at me, nor could I look at him,” Ms Hewitt told Mama Mia.
“(The vet) said in a very calm voice: ‘I have to tell you that her prognosis is not good, and you need to think about what's best for her (Dita), I would advise that you let her go’.”
“I held her head in my hands, kissed her, placed my head against hers and told her I loved her. I told her that she was such a good girl and that I was sorry.”
With Hank still fighting for life, the heartbroken couple returned to the reception area to find their friend and dog-sitter crying with his hands in his head.
“When I told them Dita had passed away, he broke down,” Ms Hewitt recalled.
“He looked me in the eyes and apologised. I walked over and hugged him - I knew this was killing him too.
"It would never have happened in our care, and that's what hurts the most."
With headaches from crying all day, the Melbourne couple returned home before receiving a phone call informing them that an urgent plasma transfusion administered to Hank had failed.
“David immediately started crying, but by this point I was completely numb. I said: ‘do what you have to’.”
Ms Hewitt has said she has not been ready to go through the events of the day with the dog-sitter.
Hewitt told the Daily Mail that she wants to raise awareness about the dangers of exercising dogs like French bulldogs in the heat.
"People need to know that their breed can't regulate their body temperatures so they're a high-risk," she said.
Fast forward one week and a GoFundMe page has raised more than $4,000 to help the grief-stricken pair buy a new dog and pay tribute to Hank and Dita.
"Since then I've been living in a nightmare, mildly distracted from the pain at times but mostly consumed by a sick feeling that never goes away," Ms Hewitt wrote on Instagram on Monday morning, paying tribute to her beloved dogs.
"As our babies are being cremated we will be combining a small amount of their ashes into the tattoo ink, so they will be with us always, which is where they belong."
Newsbreak – March 27