A 'beloved' pet pug dog has died after being left in a car on a P&O ferry crossing on the hottest day of the year.
According to procedure, the three-year-old pug, called Merlin, had to be left in the vehicle during the Calais to Dover crossing on Friday, when temperatures reached over 30C.
Kirsty Wallace, from Northumberland, was travelling on the Spirit of France, which left Calais at 10.45am and arrived in Dover local time at 11.20am.
When she returned to the vehicle after the one-and-a-half-hour journey, she found her dog had died.
More than 6,000 people have now signed a petition calling for dogs to be allowed on ferry passenger decks with their owners during travel.
The document, started by Ms Wallace's friend Nina Gadsen, is calling on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to ensure an incident like this does not happen again.
According to the Dover Express, it reads: "Yesterday, a friend's dog died on a cross channel ferry run by P&O due to heat exposure. They came down to their car after the 1.5 hour crossing to find one of their beloved pets dead, this is not an isolated incident.
"Cross channel ferries refuse to allow owners to have their pets with them, no matter what the weather, and we believe that this is an animal welfare issue.
"It would be an animal rights abuse for a person to leave their pet in their car on land for over an hour, so how can the ferry companies be allowed to make pet owners do this?"
The Daily Mail reports that Ms Wallace took to Facebook to describe Merlin has her 'angel', and said she "couldn't believe" he had died.
In a statement, P&O Ferries has said all procedures were followed correctly.
Spokesman Natalie Hardy told Kent Online: "A passenger was travelling to the UK with three dogs.
"The pets were declared, the car was parked accordingly and in the appropriate place on the car deck with the windows open for ventilation and the ship's ventilation was correctly set.
"However, upon arrival in Dover one of the three dogs had died and could not be revived despite CPR and oxygen.
"This incident was obviously very distressing for the family and the staff who helped try to revive the pet, which was taken away by animal welfare."
On its advice and welfare page, the RSPCA writes: "Don't leave your dog alone in a car.
"When it's 22°C/72°F outside, the temperature inside a car can reach 47°C/117°F within 60 minutes.
"Dogs pant to keep cool. In hot stuffy cars dogs can't cool down - leaving a window open or a sunshield on windscreens won't keep your car cool enough."
British expats protest after Cyprus hotel staff kill stray puppy
Supermodel blames airline for pet dog's death
Dog stung to death by bees in California