A PET sitting firm owner has apologised for his “tragic mistake” which saw a rabbit die after he forgot to show up during a 15-day family holiday.

When Angie Bunce-Mason and her husband, Adam, took a family trip to Devon with their two children, she got in touch with the owner of pet sitting company, Essex Pet Services, based in Westcliff, which she had used for six years, to book the pet sitting.


Tragic - Gertie the rabbit was part of the family

On the family’s return, pet rabbit Gertie was found dead, while fellow rabbit, Doug, and parrot, Monty, were at death’s door.

Angie, from Chafford Hundred, said: “I’d used the service for years so the guy there had our house keys anyway.

“I trusted them, and off I go on my holiday. We were in a rural part in Devon, with no WiFi but I had my parents down as emergency contacts.

“When we came home we were greeted with the most awful smell - my husband is a police officer and I’m a nurse so we knew exactly what the smell was.

“Gertie was dead and covered in maggots, and it was the second cycle of maggots so they must have been there within seven days or so.

“Our pets are a major part of our family – it was just sickening. Our parrot, who is usually in immaculate condition, was all skinny and not right. His feathers looked bad and he was very quiet which is not like him at all.

“The fresh vegetables we had left on the side for the rabbits were still there, all rotten. It really was awful.

“After a good cry. We sent [the company] a text, saying ‘I hope the animals are okay?’ and he texted back saying ‘everything’s fine’. Next thing you know I saw his van pull up outside; he obviously didn’t realise we were home from our holiday.”

The family has since received a £50 voucher for Pets at Home and a card apologising.

Angie added: “I couldn’t believe it. It’s like blood money. He made a huge mistake, and I don’t want anything to do with him. I don’t want money, I just don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”

The surviving pets are now back at full health.

The deaths happened in August last year but the family have come forward after learning an RSPCA investigation has now been closed.

Mum Angie added: “The animals that did survive are fine now but we don’t know what emotional scars they’ve got. “Everytime we leave are they going to be scared thinking we’re not coming back?

The company boss responded in a statement: “This was a tragic mistake and I will never ever forgive myself for this. I have had meetings with the RSPCA and going forward we have a clear plan regarding text messages for bookings, and bookings more than three days needing to be emailed to this business.

“I am truly sorry for all the pain and upset that I have caused. It wasn’t intentional.”

A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: “We truly understand the heartache that the family must have gone through as a result of this incident.“The owner of the pet service was extremely remorseful and fully cooperated with the investigation. Even if a matter is serious, it is not always appropriate to take a prosecution.”


Survived - Doug the rabbit was in a very bad state