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Family dog dies when made to stay in hot car on ferry crossing Calais to Dover

Four-year-old Merlin was unconscious when his family found him at the end of the ferry trip.
Four-year-old Merlin was unconscious when his family found him at the end of the ferry trip.
Contributed family photo/

What was planned to have been a fun family outing when crossing on the P&O Ferries from Calais to Dover (southeast section of England) for the Wallace family and their three dogs, turned into a tragedy late last week after one of their dogs died while left in the car reported the

The Brookwood, Surrey family's four-year-old Pug dog named Merlin was unconscious when the ferry arrived in Dover. Pet owners are required to leave their pets in the cars during the approximately one hour ferry ride.

Some people have now accused the company of animal cruelty. P&O Ferries defended their position on Twitter and Facebook stating:

"We are reviewing our policy concerning dogs. But this particular dog was in a car with two other dogs which were fine, and there were a total of 20 dogs on that crossing."

Even though dogs are required to remain in the vehicles while the ferry is in operation, passengers pay an additional fee for their pets.

According to Merlin's owners, Kirsty and Deane Wallace, Kirsty spent extra time trying to prepare the dogs for the journey; just leaving the windows open enough so that the dogs couldn't jump out and leaving plenty of water for them to drink. When the family found Merlin, he was unconscious, and despite attempts to resuscitate the dog, Merlin did not survive. Their other dogs, a Beagle named Trixie and another Pug named Arthur were fine.

On Facebook, the P&O Ferries also made reference to pugs, bulldogs, and other brachycephalic breeds known to have respiratory issues.

Passengers and humane advocates continue to weigh in on the tragedy and are calling for the company to change their policies regarding the transport of pets; that is to allow owners to stay with their pets during the journey or to provide ventilated kennels for the dogs.

"It would be an animal rights abuse for a person to leave their pet in their car on land for an hour," stated one woman, "so how can the ferry companies be allowed to make pet owners do this?"

Rest in peace Merlin.

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