Saturday Night Takeaway holiday prize winner left ‘heartbroken’ after dog is banned from trip

‘I’ll never watch Ant and Dec again,’ charity boss Tammy Fox shared with The Independent

Maira Butt
Wednesday 17 April 2024 10:29 BST
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Saturday Night Takeaway family reunion leaves viewers in tears

A charity boss has been left “heartbroken” after being told her disabled dog would not be able to join her for a holiday she won on Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

Tammy Fox was chosen to be in the audience of 410 volunteers for her work running Pumpkin and Friends, a charity raising awareness of disabled animals. The show recently ended with hosts Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly confirming it would be going on an indefinite hiatus.

In one of its final episodes, Fox and the other volunteers were gifted a holiday provided through travel company TUI – but she has now said her paralysed pet Pumpkin is not welcome to go with her.

The 43-year-old told The Independent that the ordeal had “ruined the experience” of the show and she would “never watch Ant and Dec again”.

“We’re just absolutely heartbroken, it’s been a roller coaster,” she said. “We can’t get a hold of anybody on ITV. No-one’s replying to us.”

Pumpkin, a two-year-old disabled West Highland Terrier, had been stamped on when she was just 10 weeks old, leaving her with a broken spine, broken legs, and fractured ribs.

Fox/s experience of raising the foster pet led her to set up Pumpkin and Friends, a charity supporting over a thousand animals with adaptations and support for disabilities across the country.

Tammy Fox with her beloved dog Pumpkin
Tammy Fox with her beloved dog Pumpkin (Tammy Fox)

She said she was told only registered assistance dogs could travel via TUI holidays whether by plane or cruise. After some negotiation and pushback the company conceded to allow Pumpkin to travel in the hold, but Fox says “that would kill her [Pumpkin]”, with vets refusing to sign off on the travel plan.

TUI said its airline allows “assistance dogs trained and certified by an organisation that is a full member of Assistance Dogs International (ADI) or International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) are permitted to travel in-cabin. Emotional Support Dogs and other pets without certification are ineligible for in-cabin travel.”

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Pumpkin’s spine and legs were left broken after being stamped on as a puppy
Pumpkin’s spine and legs were left broken after being stamped on as a puppy (Tammy Fox)

However, Fox feels the policy is unfair, calling it “discrimination against my disabled dog”.

“We’re not a greedy family. We were so thankful and so overwhelmed with the surprise from Saturday Night Takeaway,” she told The Independent.

“It’s all just turned into a disaster, even if they said Pumpkin could go on the flight now, they’ve ruined it. I’ll never watch Ant and Dec again. They’ve really upset us.”

Although Fox and her family were looking forward to the trip, she said she would accept the holiday value being donated to her charity instead, to help her support other disabled animals.

Tammy Fox with her partner Richard with their winning tickets from ‘Saturday Night Takeaway’
Tammy Fox with her partner Richard with their winning tickets from ‘Saturday Night Takeaway’ (Tammy Fox)

“We could use the money to look after people’s animals when they go on holiday, because there is nowhere to send them,” she said. “When you have an able-bodied dog, they can do doggy day care, dog training or stay in kennels. When they’re paraplegic or in a wheelchair, no one wants them or they’re not insured.”

TUI said that their policy was not unique to their travel company and is “standard across the UK”.

A spokesperson for the company told The Independent: “We were delighted when Fox was recognised on Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, we think she does amazing work.

Tammy said ‘no-one wants’ disabled dogs when their owners go on holiday
Tammy said ‘no-one wants’ disabled dogs when their owners go on holiday (Tammy Fox)

“We appreciate she’s disappointed it’s not possible to bring Pumpkin on the holiday prize she was awarded, but sadly UK airline policies prohibit non-assistance dogs travelling in an airplane cabin.

“We’ve discussed this with Fox and understand she doesn’t want to travel without Pumpkin. Whilst we’re tied to terms and conditions and policies around the prize, we’re in touch with her team about other ways we might be able to support the charity as a gesture of goodwill.”

The Independent has contacted ITV for comment.

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