By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Twin Cities family is grieving the loss of two pets who died in the care of their dog walker.

Simba and Jasper died after being left in a hot car in St. Louis Park last Thursday. The high was 84 degrees.

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Named after a lion, Simba the terrier mix had the gentlest of hearts.

“He was a very, very loyal dog. He was a protector, wanted to always please you,” said Michael Rozin, of Minneapolis.

He did please the Rozin family by running half marathons with Michael, playing with the kids and playing with his buddy Jasper, a lab mix.

“Just everything you want from a good obedient loving, loving dog. It’s just unbelievable that they are not here,” Rozin said.

Rozin’s dog, Simba, and his in-laws’ dog, Jasper, died Thursday. It happened while they were on a doggie field trip day with Urban Dog Care in St. Louis Park.

“She came in person, and said she made a mistake and the dogs are dead,” Rozin said.

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The owner of Urban Dog told us she made a mistake, too.

“The main thing for me – I don’t want anyone to think I’m making excuses, this is 100% me,” Cathy Menard said.

Menard, who has owned her business for 21 years, says she, too, has been in tears all weekend. She says she was transporting six dogs on Thursday, she brought the first four dogs back inside and got distracted, leaving Simba and Jasper in the car for three hours.

“It was 100% horrible human error and that was it. I don’t know how else to think about it,” Menard said.

“It’s a big mistake, it’s not a mistake you should continue to be in the same line of work if you are able to make mistakes like this,” Rozin said.

WCCO asked Menard if clients can trust her and she said, “I think so. I mean, I want them to and the vast majority of the clients do.”

Rozin says his main hope from the tragedy is that other dogs will be protected. He did file a report with St. Louis Park police.

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A reminder for all pet owners: experts say a dog in a closed car can die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield