Channel 5 meets some barking pet owners!
I’ve always resisted the urge to write a personal piece for a national newspaper about my cat Crystal for fear of becoming known as ‘Mad Cat lady’. After all, Crystal has accompanied myself and my family on holiday for the last decade. In fact I am sure she must be one of Britain’s best travelled cats!
But Channel 5’s 41 Dogs in My three-bed semi follows three pet owners who are possibly more nuts over their animals than even I am.
There’s Lynn Everett who loves her pet dogs so much she shares her semi-detached home with 41 of them. And then there’s Steve Lucock, who claims his appearance on Britain’s Got Talent contributed to a failed marriage and left him with a home full of 60 animals, no less.
And then there’s dog enthusiast Emmie Stevens, 27, is so devoted to her pets that she has spent £60,000 on pampering them – with two hounds even getting hitched…
Story to sell about your dog or another pet? Why not fill in the form to the right >>> I can tell you straightaway if you have a story to sell!
There are estimated to be 71 million pets in Britain today, and 45% of households now own at least one. However, for some, one is nowhere near enough. This remarkable film, a Middlechild production – reveals Britain’s most staggering animal obsessives and witness what happens when animal obsessions get out of hand; the animosity, the relationship breakdowns, the risk of losing everything, and the tales of people who love animals so much they collect dozens of them in their homes.
The one-hour documentary meets 57-year-old dog-mad Lynn Morgan from Barnsley, a dog obsessive. Many people have one of their favourite breeds of dogs as a pet, Lynn has one in every colour! At last count, Lynn had 41 dogs, all living inside her modest semi-detached home. Lynn lives with 25 French Bulldogs, six Chinese Crested dogs and 10 Miniature English Bull Terriers.
Then it follows Britain’s Got Talent performer Steve Lucock and his 60 animals as he battles to put food in the mouths of his beloved wild family, whilst attempting to feed his own obsession; and dog-lover Emmie Stevens from Croydon who has a paw print tattooed on her wedding finger.
Lynn Everett and her 41 dogs
Lynn Everett and husband, Tony Morgan, live amongst their 41 dogs in her three-bedroomed semi on a very normal-looking street in Barnsley. The dogs are free to roam the downstairs of the house and share the sofas with Lynn and Tony. 41 is the maximum number the council will allow her to keep but if she could, she’d have many more. It’s a stressful existence living amongst 41 dogs and Lynn and Tony have a very fiery relationship, especially when it comes to matters concerning the dogs.
In this film, we learn all about their lifestyle and witness the effect it has on their relationship. We meet Lynn’s disabled dogs and she explains how she gives every dog a chance, no matter how much it costs her. We reveal that Lynn breeds some of her more prized pooches and that this helps fund the upkeep of her extra-large family.
Lynn leaves the house just once a year, to go on a scouting mission to Crufts. Lynn began by breeding Bull Terriers but soon found that she couldn’t bear to part with them once born. She has sold some of her more prized puppies in the past but even though she has been breeding dogs since she was 18, she admits it’s becoming nearly impossible to let any new ones go. And now, as long as she sticks within the 41 she’s allowed, instead of selling, she’s buying too! Lynn has five chest freezers and spends £280 on tripe each month to feed her pets. She also buys copious amounts of fabric softener for the dogs’ blankets and there are beds set up for them in the front room.
Not many people could cope with the set-up the couple have in the house but Lynn’s personality seems to suit it perfectly. The worst consequence of their lifestyle choice is the abuse they attract from outsiders who don’t believe the dogs can be healthy or happy in such an environment. This has resulted in substantial trolling over the Internet, on dog-based forums and social media. The pinnacle of the abuse came during Christmas 2014, when a brick was thrown through their window.
Steve Lucock and his 60 pets
Meanwhile in Blyth, Northumberland, animal addict 47-year-old Steve Lucock was at the peak of his career as a magician in the mid-2000s, performing around the country with his wife as his on stage assistant. As Steve is so obsessed with animals, he based their entire show around them. When their act featured on the TV show Britain’s Got Talent, the exposure resulted in 100 animals in need of a home being dropped on their doorstep, in addition to the 60 they already had! Steve’s reluctance to part with the new animals put a strain on his marriage, eventually leading to divorce and plunging Steve in financial disarray.
Not every animal act on Britain’s Got Talent goes the same way as Pudsey or Matisse it seems. Now, unemployed and without a performing partner, Steve has been forced to reduce the number of animals he lives with back to a more modest level of 60. Steve’s living room is home to a parrot and around the rest of the house you’ll find dogs, cats, meerkats, owls, raccoons, skunks, snakes, turtles, rats, doves, rabbits and Steve’s showpiece… his foxes.
The foxes are house-trained and his red fox, identical to the ones who roam the streets at night, is as tame as a ‘well-trained dog’. He often takes his fox when he entertains at children’s parties, much to the amazement of the attendees, who cannot believe how domesticated it is. Steve’s animal obsession has had serious financial repercussions. He only manages to feed his animals through donations given to him after shows he puts on for free locally. However, he is determined to continue growing his collection and is always on the lookout for new additions. In this film, we follow Steve as he tries to turn his fortunes around. We witness a rather tragic performance at a holiday camp and see evidence of Steve’s problems with money. However, he’s come up with a new idea for a show that he hopes will be a big hit on the kids’ party scene. Called Animalgique, it tells the story of the animals’ struggle against man and what children can do to help. Steve rehearses his show and promotes it around Blyth before the big night of his premiere arrives.
Mary Cunningham and her many cats
In Wiltshire, Mary Cunningham’s small house is overrun with cats. For many years she’s been taking them in and providing homes to any that are offered to her. Her whole life revolves around her feline family. Mary’s house is also brimming with clutter, she claims that this in fact just ‘stock’. Mary raises money for her cats by visiting car boot sales and fetes, selling her ‘stock’. In this film we learn that Mary faces the threat of eviction if the number of cats increases in her home, or if she can’t maintain the property. We watch as Mary attempts to secure a pitch at the biggest event of the year, The Calne Summer Festival and Carnival. If she can get a stall there, she’ll clear a lot of her ’stock’ and make enough money to do some decorating.
Emmie Stevens has spent £60K on her dogs
Emmie Stevens’ is an animal obsessive in training – her current 12 dogs are some of the most pampered pooches in the country. Emmie, 27, from Croydon, South London, is obsessed with dressing up canines and even calls them her children. Over the past seven years she has spent £60K on them. To Emmie, her dogs are her children and she feels a very maternal connection to them. As she says, “parents like dressing their children up” and that’s precisely what she does with her dogs. She has a whole room devoted to their outfits. Recently, Emmie married two of her dogs at a lavish ceremony attended by 30 of their best doggie friends. In the film we learn that Emmie’s addiction to dogs started after enduring years of confidence-destroying bullying before buying her first dog, Doodles. The love and happiness she got from him, and the compulsion to care that grew inside her, drove her to seek that ‘buzz’ over and over again. If there was more room in her house she’d have more dogs and one day Emmie fully intends on increasing her collection.
41 Dogs in My Three Bed Semi: 9th October 2015, 8pm, Channel 5