A family are mourning their beloved dog after she bled to death in their arms - weeks after they were told she was not ill.

Barbara Jones, her husband Paul and son, James, made repeated trips to PDSA Pet Aid Hospital, in Church End, Hendon, after their American bulldog Tia stopped eating and began vomiting at the end of January.

But after five visits, the veterinary clinic finally found a sock blocking her intestine - but it was not enough to save the “placid and gentle” two-year-old dog.

After her death, the family went back to the clinic to pick up her body ahead of her funeral - only to be told she had already been released to a crematorium without their consent.

PDSA have now launched a formal investigation into the two incidents, after the family condemned the “shocking” treatment they received.

Mrs Jones, 50, said: “Tia was the light of our lives, but by the end of it she was so weak and sick, even though they insisted she wasn’t. It was heartbreaking.

“She was well loved and what’s happened is hard to put into words. I’m angry and upset because if this hadn’t been missed, she might still be alive today.”

When vets gave her an X-ray and found the sock on Wednesday, February 5, more than a week after her first appointment, she was admitted for emergency surgery.

Tia was allowed back home to Oulton Way, Watford, just four hours later - but minutes after they arrived it became clear she was in agony.

Mother-of-seven Mrs Jones said: “We put her on her bed and she suddenly starting bleeding all over the place, right in front of our eyes. There was nothing we could do.

“We were panicked, crying her all over the place and took her back to the vets. But a few minutes into the car journey, James said - ‘mum, she’s not breathing.’ My heart sank.

“We were talking to her and telling her to hang on, but we just knew she had already gone.

“We left her body at the vets, but when we went to pick her up, we were told it had already been released.

“It’s so hard to come to terms with what happened.”

On Monday, February 17, they finally tracked her body down to a crematorium in Cambridge and PDSA apologised for its mistake by organising a private ambulance to bring her body home.

Tia had been a gift to Mrs Jones and her husband Paul on their wedding day four years ago.

The couple have two other dogs, a Jack Russell named Logan and a springer spaniel named Zara, but say nothing will ever fill the void Tia has left.

Mrs Jones, who has back problems and is registered disabled, said Tia had provided huge comfort to her at times of pain.

She added: "She had a great intuition. She was cheeky, but great with people. She was more like a teenager, laid back and very loving."

A statement from PDSA said:  “Our sympathy goes out to Tia’s owners.

“We are unable to comment on the specific details of this case due to client confidentiality.

“PDSA treats all complaints very seriously.  We are in contact with Tia’s owners and a full investigation will be carried out.”