Two grieving pet owners are searching for answers, wondering how a dog they say was perfectly healthy wound up dead.
"I know to some people she's just a dog, but she was like a daughter for us," Amy Porras said through her tears.
Tuesday evening she held her dog, Joey, close. Two arms now devoted to just one pet. Her other pet pug, Chloe, only lives on in photographs these days.
"They put their trust in this business, and the worst thing happened. Their pet passed away," attorney Amy Ruiz said.
In a news conference on Tuesday, Ruiz sat in between the couple announcing their plans to file a lawsuit against the Royal Pets Market & Resort at 16010 Mapledale Drive in Tampa.
According to Ruiz, the couple boarded their two dogs there in June while they vacationed abroad. When they returned, their 5-year-old pet pug Chloe was dead. A necropsy, released to ABC Action News by the company in question, lists a probable heat stroke as the cause.
"When she was taken to the vet on an emergency basis, her temperature was 109 degrees," Ruiz said.
The couple's attorney claims Chloe died after being left outside in the heat for "an indefinite period of time."
However, the local company is denying these allegations.
"I deny all of the allegations, and I feel strongly that Chloe and Joey were taken care of as every other pet in our care," said Denise Wolin-Gore, the owner of Royal Pets Market & Resort.
Wolin-Gore said the dog had a prior condition called "stridor" that the owners failed to reveal. Her partner gave ABC Action News documents they say they obtained after Chloe died showing "strong upper respiratory stridor" in the dog's medical history in February and March.
On June 23, the business says they moved Chloe and Joey into an indoor-outdoor suite so they could clean out the room they were staying in. They say approximately 15 minutes later, they found Chloe passed out in the outdoor section of the suite, which they attribute to stridor, a condition common in brachycephalic breeds, like pugs.
"She threw up and aspirated, and when she aspirated her temperature rose," Walin-Gore said. "It's terrible and it's devastating, but at the same time I'm very confident in what we do to take care of our pets."
Royal Pets said a vet on site worked on the dog for 4 1/2 hours, but was unable to save her.
The Porras family is hoping by telling their story there will be more regulations put in place.
"This has been the worst experience of my life, and we don't want it to happen to anybody else," said Porras.
The family is planning to sue for the market value of their pet along with the damages caused from the emotional distress.
Hillsborough County Animal Services is currently investigating.