LIFESTYLE

Woman To Marry Dog Following Death Of Her Previous Husband... A Cat

21/07/2015 11:18 BST | Updated 21/07/2015 11:59 BST

A woman is taking the title of animal lover a little too seriously, after revealing she plans to marry her dog following the death of her previous husband... a cat called Doerack.

Dominique Lesbirel wed her pet cat eight years ago but sadly he had to be put down after suffering kidney failure aged 19.

Now Lesbirel, 41, has revealed she plans to marry her dog, Travis.

(And no, we are most definitely not kidding.)

woman to marry dog

Lesbirel is set to marry her dog, Travis.

"Putting Doerack to sleep was horrible, I’ve had him since he was three, but I feel lucky to have had 16 lovely years with him," said Lesbirel.

"It sounds strange but I wouldn’t marry Travis just yet," she said. "It’s still too soon after the death of Doerack."

Lesbirel rescued Travis, who was a stray dog, when she lived in Greece.

"He would come down to the beach I swam at every day and eat from the bins or scrabble in the sand for old bits of crab," she said.

"I’d leave him food and water so he didn’t have to drink from the sea. At first he would hide in the bushes but eventually he got brave enough to come over to me for cuddles.

"He’d steal my shoes and bag while I was swimming and, with it, he stole my heart."

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When Travis was struck with a life-threatening virus, Lesbirel decided to take him in full time and the pair have been together ever since.

The upcoming ceremony will be carried out through Marryyourpet.com, a website which the devoted owner set up in 2003.

The site boasts several thousand visitors a day and Lesbirel, who lives in Holland, pronounces several couples a month lawfully wedded pet and owner.

After their applications to marry are approved, each couple is taken to a virtual chapel on screen, where they exchange vows.

The happy couple then click a button to say ‘I do’ and Lesbirel, who became ordained online, sends them a certificate.

She said she encourages people to see the ceremony as a normal wedding, planning in advance, inviting friends and throwing lavish parties to celebrate.

"Not all applications get approved," she said. "There are rules, as with any marriage.

"I’m happy to conduct same sex marriages, or to let people marry more than one pet. I only marry domestic animals, though. In some parts of the world, you hear of people keeping lions and tigers as pets – I wouldn’t marry people to them.

"I also need to be sure they truly love and respect their pet."

woman marries cat

Lesbirel with her cat, Doerack, who she was married to before he died.

Marryyourpet.com’s golden rule is that divorce is not an option. Lesbirel added: "The difference between a church ceremony and my online chapel is that I don’t allow divorce. I don’t want to let anybody abandon their pet."

Although most people understand the light-hearted and loveable tone of the site, a small handful have not seen the funny side.

Lesbirel claims to have received hate mail and even death threats in the past.

"I had people emailing me telling me I was cruel," she said.

"They said I was basically promoting animal cruelty. Some were horrified and thought I was condoning bestiality, which was awful and certainly not the case.

"I would never condone such terrible acts of cruelty to animals. My site is all about making a commitment to pets to show your dedication to them and promise that you will always look after them."

Lesbirel was inspired to set up the site after her cat Zeus was tragically run over and killed.

"I felt really depressed and nobody seemed to get it," she said. "People just kept saying, ‘Come on, it’s just a cat,’ but it wasn’t to me.

"We have such a strong bond with our pets, but if you tell people you’d rather go home to your cat than go out, they look at you like you’re insane.

"With a human, you can point to a ring to show you’re committed to each other but with pets, there’s no one moment of joy to mark that bond.

"Pets are loyal and adoring so I wanted to create something to celebrate that. We all need that unconditional love, but it can be hard to find with a person, especially when everyone withdraws behind their phone or laptop screens, so why not look to a pet instead?"

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Adorable Weddings Pets

Ms Lesbirel’s site also offers advice for couples in crisis.

"So what if kitty’s having an affair with your neighbour or Fido’s too busy on eBay to give you quality time," it reads. “For better or worse, remember? Clearly it’s time to put the spice back into your marriage."

The section includes recommendations of pet therapists as well as ideas of treats for furry friends should any owners find themselves in the dog house.

Couples also keep in touch with the Marryyourpet.com team to update them on married life as they rack up anniversaries.

"We’d be lost without those happy little faces at our windows, so I’ll do anything I can to remind people to treat animals with love, kindness and respect.

"That’s why I’m planning to marry Travis. He’s given me so much happiness and unconditional love. I just want to celebrate that bond."