TAMPA (FOX 13) - As new owners take over embattled Lucky Dog daycare in Tampa, a family is still coming to terms with the loss of their pet, who died at the facility earlier this month.
Speaking at their attorney's office Tuesday, Mia and Tim Norton said they have so many questions about what happened to their 4-year-old French Bulldog, Portia.
"It's hard for me to talk about it because she was our life. She was everything in the world to us," Mia said Tuesday.
The Nortons, who also have a 2-year-old son, were getting ready for their vacation to the Bahamas and dropped Portia off at Lucky Dog.
"Every time we would go out of state or take a vacation, we entrusted Lucky Dog to take care of her," Mia said.
But a day into their trip, they got a heart-breaking call from the business: Portia had died.
"She died of heat stroke. I still don't understand," Mia told FOX 13. "I don't know that we could really pinpoint or ever fathom that this could ever happen."
"Portia was definitely not just a dog for us, it was a family member, it was our child," Tim added.
FOX 13 contacted Lucky Dog's previous owner Jack Hamilton, but Hamilton hung up without commenting.
Facing a county investigation into complaints about his business, Hamilton sold the business over the weekend to Natalie Conner.
Conner has been in the doggie daycare industry for 13 years and owns two businesses in St. Pete called Love My Dog Daycare.
She quickly changed Lucky Dog's name to Love My Dog Daycare Tampa.
"This is going to be a clean slate and we're doing nothing here but looking at safety procedures, looking at training, looking at how we process dogs, how we care for dogs," Conner said. "I'm taking this piece by piece, and structure by structure, and little segments at a time. So I'm building a new foundation here."
The Nortons, meanwhile, are exploring their legal options. They also hope others learn from their situation so Portia didn't die in vain.
"This isn't about money or anything like this, it's really about awareness," Tim said. "If we as a community can change something, bring more awareness and ultimately bring more regulation to what's out there."