Episode 3 Animal 24:7


Episode 3

Series following the people fighting to protect Britain's wildlife and pets. The RSPCA is on the case of a puppy with a broken leg, and a team battles to save an orphaned porpoise.


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Transcript


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Britain's animals are under threat.

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All too often, our wildlife and domestic pets

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are the victims of cruelty, persecution and neglect.

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Animal 24/7 is with the people trying to save them.

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Coming up...

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DOG WHINES

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Rescue for the puppy with an untreated injury.

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It seems to be in quite a lot of distress.

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Broken leg's pretty painful.

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The battle to save a baby porpoise.

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Because it's been out of the water, the skin's starting to crack.

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It's just 50-50.

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And the deadly trap that left these chicks orphaned.

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-Wow!

-The bird would eventually die from shock or hypothermia.

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Out of all our animals, it's the babies that need the most attention.

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These puppies were brought into the RSPCA

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here in Bradford seriously underfed.

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And they're just a handful of the 3,000 or so animals

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that are brought into this centre every year.

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It's hard to believe that people

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could mistreat or neglect such cute animals, but it does happen.

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In north London, the search is on for a puppy with a broken leg.

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A local vet has called the RSPCA to say his owners have ignored

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appointments to get the fracture treated.

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Imara and Clare have been told the owner keeps the puppy in these flats.

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-From the sides.

-Yeah, she came down here.

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That's why I was confused about the layout then.

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This is a serious case.

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The puppy will be in agony.

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There's no time for a soft approach.

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RSPCA!

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The police have been called.

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They can legally break into the flat and seize the dog.

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-Yes, please.

-Hello!

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It's the police.

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Because of your dog, we've got a power to force entry if you don't come and open the door.

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There's no response. Time for action.

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Police!

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The team begins to search the flat for the puppy.

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You've got a dog lead on the floor here, puppy lead.

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Is that a puppy crate?

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Attempt at a puppy crate here, attempt at a puppy crate in there.

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The dogs aren't here.

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The dogs aren't here.

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-Any idea where he lives at all?

-No idea.

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Imara is now extremely concerned about this little dog's welfare.

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It's in such a horrific condition.

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A dog with a broken femur, I can't imagine how much pain

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it could be going through at the moment,

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and the fact that it must be being walked everywhere and, that way,

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putting more and more pressure on it and causing even more pain to it

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and making it just all the worse, because they can't take it to a vet, and I don't understand quite why.

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Imara and Clare are desperate to find the puppy.

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They call the police to see if there's any other information

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that might indicate where it's been taken.

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Let me take the address from you.

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OK, what's the address?

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The police tell Imara they've found an address linked to the puppy.

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Lovely. OK, I'll see you soon.

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We have got an address for the owner's son now, so we will be going

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straight over to that one and hopefully the dogs will be there.

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Imara and Clare head directly to the second address.

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This time, it sounds like they may be in luck.

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DOGS BARK

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Oh, dogs are here!

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-Hey!

-And even better news - the puppy is here, too.

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We need to see that puppy, so just bring the puppy out and put the dogs in the back, yeah?

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I know the one you need to look at.

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Lovely. It's just that one that we need to look at.

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We'd like you to co-operate, otherwise we have got the power to come in.

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The owner is given no choice but to let the RSPCA in.

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Is it going to be all right with me?

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Yes, she's all right. They're all all right, but they jump up.

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Oh, are you a jumper?

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Once inside, Imara sees the puppy.

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The search may be over,

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but Imara now has to decide what's best for the dog.

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The puppy was supposed to have gone in for an amputation yesterday at Blue Cross.

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The puppy has seen a vet who recommended the leg was amputated.

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But the owner wanted a second opinion.

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Three days on, and it appears the leg still hasn't been treated.

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For Imara, leaving the puppy to suffer simply isn't acceptable.

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What we're gonna do with the dog,

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I'm going to take it to the RSPCA in Harmsworth.

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We'll leave it there for them to assess it, look at it

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and then you go and pick it up and do it that way.

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After 30 minutes, the owner finally agrees the puppy can be taken.

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Clare's frustrated that the injury has been left and doesn't want to waste any more time.

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Hurry up, we need to get that pup to the vet.

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The puppy, nicknamed Sam, is just a few months old.

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Can you put him straight in there then.

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It's really sore, isn't it? Look at that silly bandage on you, eh?

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At the RSPCA animal hospital, he's rushed straight through to the examination room.

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Sam can't walk and is swaddled in a makeshift bandage.

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His leg has been left untreated for days

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and this could damage his chances of a full recovery.

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He's making quite a lot of noise.

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It seems to be in quite a lot of distress.

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Broken leg's pretty painful, so I guess it's pretty bad.

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It's a real big sigh of relief to know that it's here and it's

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in some capable hands and someone will be treating it

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and it won't be in the pain that it was in before.

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We want to keep an eye on it for the next 24 hours to see how it's going.

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We'll give it some anti-inflammatories,

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or the vets will, and we'll just keep an eye on it.

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We might be able to operate, but we won't be able to tell until

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the swelling has gone down, we've got some X-rays.

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So it's just watch this space, really, for the next 24/48 hours.

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It's been a busy day for such a tiny puppy and it's not over yet.

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Sam now has to undergo critical examinations to determine how serious the injury is.

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Later...

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It looks like there could easily be a fracture.

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Very painful and the bone doesn't feel normal.

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Just like humans, baby animals rely on their mothers

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for food, comfort and security.

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So if their parents die or they become separated from them,

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the little ones' lives are often in danger, too.

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Luckily, there are rescuers out there who will try to save them,

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but it's almost always a pretty difficult job.

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Spurn Point - one of the most remote spots in Britain.

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Stretching out into the North Sea at the mouth of the Humber Estuary,

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it's been designated a nature reserve and is a haven for wildlife.

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On the beach, an emergency is unfolding.

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A porpoise has beached herself and died,

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leaving her now orphaned calf fighting for its life nearby.

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A team from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue

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is trying to save the baby.

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Alan Stewart is looking at the mother

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for clues as to what went wrong.

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There are no visible marks on it at all, which is relatively unusual.

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They normally have some sort of bumps and scrapes.

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The only visible sign is that it is very thin. And as you can see here

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this is where the lumbar muscle is and that's concave, which is a classic sign

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that there is something wrong.

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It won't be till, when or if it goes to post-mortem

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we'll actually find out what the problem's been.

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The team don't know why the adult

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beached itself, but the strong bond between porpoises and their young has left her calf in real trouble.

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Neil Ray is trying to keep the animal alive under the anxious watch of onlookers.

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We believe it's dehydrated.

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Very emaciated, he's very thin.

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His eyes are closed, which isn't a good sign, and also he's shivering, so he's hypothermic.

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He's got quite a good breathing pattern at the moment.

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It's just all the other factors that are against it - dehydration, malnutrition, hypothermia.

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We think that mum's come ashore and brought the baby with it and obviously the baby's

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still with mum and not doing very well at all without mum.

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It looks like the porpoises are suffering from malnutrition.

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Stocks of their favourite food, sand eel, have plummeted

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in the North Sea, leaving many marine animals vulnerable.

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We believe it's a yearling, probably from June last year.

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If you notice the wrinkling on the skin,

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it's usually a sign of dehydration.

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There's no telling really how long it's been

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without a feed or without water.

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It gets all its liquids from the food that they eat.

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Obviously if this one's still weaned with its mum, there's no knowing

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the last time it had something to eat or got some fluid into it.

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There is a slim chance of survival if the porpoise can be refloated.

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A vet's on his way.

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He'll decide whether the calf is strong enough

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to live without his mother.

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But Spurn Point is secluded. He could be hours away.

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With every passing minute, the calf is getting weaker.

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The problem with porpoises, they're very, very skittish.

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We're lucky that this one hasn't gone into shock yet.

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They're normally well into shock by now.

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They go into death-throes, which is like a...

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like a seizure spasm and they just close their blowhole and die.

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With the vet still miles away, the animal's condition suddenly worsens.

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The calf has been out of the water for several hours.

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His skin is beginning to suffer.

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Neil and his team are well trained to deal with this situation, but they must act quickly.

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Because it's been out of the water, the skin's starting to crack,

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so what I'm going to try to do is make it as comfortable as we can,

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keep the skin wet and also put some K-Y Jelly round the blowhole.

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It stops the blowhole from cracking.

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Obviously the blowhole is where it breathes from,

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so if it gets water in there, then it's in trouble.

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You've got to give it every chance until the vet arrives

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and see what happens when the vet arrives.

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Any hope of saving this porpoise is slipping away with every minute.

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He's now very frail.

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And if the vet says he's too ill to survive on his own in the sea,

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there's little that can be done for him.

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It's very frustrating because, usually with seals, we've rescued so many seals over the years

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and generally, if they're too ill to refloat, we can take them to the sea life centre where there's a hospital

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there and they get antibiotics and get fed, and within six, seven months, they can be refloated.

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Obviously there's not really a rescue centre that we know of for porpoises,

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because they're a really skittish animal to try and keep.

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It's just 50-50. Sometimes you're lucky, sometimes you're not.

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Neil and his team have done all they can.

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It will now be the vet's decision whether the porpoise can return to the sea.

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But he's still an hour away and, as the team wait,

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this baby porpoise's life hangs in the balance.

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Coming up...

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If it's a question between giving it a chance and euthanizing it,

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I'd prefer to give it a chance, but I do think the chances are poor of its surviving.

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Many of the kittens here are orphans being raised by staff

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at this centre, and their commitment is typical of rescuers

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who often go to great lengths to rear young animals.

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I'm off to the West Midlands to meet a team who are trying to get two falcon chicks back into the wild

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after their parents were deliberately killed.

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The magnificent peregrine falcon is thriving in many areas of the UK,

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but that's not the case in the West Midlands.

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A number of birds here are falling victim to criminals

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who seem determined to stamp them out.

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Hello, hello. So who's who here?

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-Hello, Tom. I'm Guy from the RSPB.

-I'm Keith from Raptor Rescue.

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Nice to see you. My ears betray the fact that your birds are in here.

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Yes, two lovely peregrine chicks in here ready to go back via the RSPB into the wild, hopefully.

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These two are the offspring of a pair of urban peregrines.

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However, someone went to great lengths to ensure these helpless chicks became orphans.

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This is a perfectly legal trap and is used by gamekeepers and farmers etc.

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But it's used to control things like rats and stoats and weasels.

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The idea is you set it underground where non-target animals and cats and birds can't get caught.

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But what somebody had done is set these actually on the nest ledge.

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So someone had deliberately put that there in order to kill the adult birds?

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Yeah, absolutely. You needed rope equipment to get into the site,

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so it was a deliberate, planned effort to try and get these birds.

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Although the first traps were removed, they were quickly replaced and, tragically for the chicks,

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the trappers succeeded second time around.

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Once caught, the adult peregrines stood little chance of survival.

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You can imagine a bird landing on that plate there.

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Wow!

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It's a powerful spring.

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Probably shatter the bird's leg, certainly hold it

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and the bird would eventually die from shock or hypothermia.

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Traps aren't the only threat to peregrines in the West Midlands.

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They've also been shot.

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Guy believes its part of a sustained and determined campaign.

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We've had information that we're looking at eight sites in the Birmingham area

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and that this has been going on for the last two or three years.

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But in this particular case, and following the phone calls, we're pretty certain that it's

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a disgruntled element from the pigeon racing community.

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Peregrines and other birds of prey take some of their racing pigeons.

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Left alone, this pair would have starved to death.

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But thanks to the RSPB, and the Raptor Centre, they're now to be

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returned to the wild in the nest of two unsuspecting foster families.

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Fortunately for us, Peregrines can't count, so the plan is to take one of these chicks and put them into each

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of the two sites and, hopefully, after we leave, the parents will come back and go, "Oh, OK,"

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and carry on feeding the birds.

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Peregrines prefer to nest in high places, so this craggy cliff face

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in a secret location is the perfect spot to raise young.

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It took a nationwide search to find this foster nest, and now I've been

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roped in to help introduce the chick to its new family.

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There's two chicks apparently in that nest and the plan is today, we'll safely get you down this

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cliff-face and you'll then transfer the single chick onto the nest ledge to join its two foster siblings.

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It's not going to be any easy delivery.

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Just getting to the nest site will be a challenge for me,

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so fortunately abseiling expert James is caring for the chick.

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-Good to go?

-You're all good to go.

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Bird bag and safety equipment in place, we're ready.

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But before we can abseil down, we've got to climb up.

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Here we go. Bit of a scramble.

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The peregrines' best defence against persecution is the inaccessibility of their nesting sites.

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And at closer inspection, this secret spot looks ideal for our first orphaned chick.

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So we've come down this far and I think we can just see into the nest.

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We can, yeah. If you just look over, you can see the ledge where the peregrines have decided to nest.

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You can see all their remains, prey remains and a bit of faeces.

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That's a tell-tale sign that these birds have got young and they're quite large now.

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With the adult birds away, we can drop in on the peregrine chicks and drop off their new baby brother.

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I've brought along a special camera to get the perfect bird's-eye view of this amazing first meeting.

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I just hope there's no sibling rivalry.

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A new family member.

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There he is.

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The youngster's a little nervy, but thankfully James is here to point him in the right direction.

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And there we go.

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Three quite happy

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and healthy peregrine chicks.

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The one we just introduced is a bit smaller. Does that matter?

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Not really at this age. They're all pretty healthy, pretty capable.

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Mum and dad obviously left them to go hunting.

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These can look after themselves and they should be fine.

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I'd say he does look right at home.

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It does, doesn't it? Absolutely fantastic.

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He belongs here.

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They look like the perfect happy family already.

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Just squawking to let me know that he's had enough

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of my presence, so I'd better leave them to it.

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But it's a great result.

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With the chicks settling in nicely, it's time to abseil down.

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James and Guy will head off to re-home the second orphaned chick

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later on, but for me that's the end of my perfect peregrine day.

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Still to come... Sam the injured puppy undergoes critical surgery.

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The fracture's come together quite nicely.

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It went as well as can be expected.

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And I'm pleased to say the young peregrines

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are now thriving in their new nest.

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The investigation to find who killed their parents is continuing.

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Now it's time to check up on the orphaned porpoise

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fighting for its life at Spurn Point in Lincolnshire.

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The mother beached herself on this remote nature reserve and died,

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leaving her calf to fend for itself.

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Three hours have passed since British diver Neil Ray

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and his colleagues began trying to save the porpoise.

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Now vet, Philippe van der Riet, has arrived.

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He will decide whether the calf can survive without its mother.

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Neil gives him as much information as possible so the vet can make the right decision.

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We got a call about 3.20 to say there was three porpoises, two dead

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and one alive on the Humber, and this was in the water, actually getting rolled in the water.

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OK. Is it struggling a lot or is it quite settled?

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No, it's actually quite settled.

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We brought it up in the back of a four-wheel-drive because of the accessibility

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for you to have a look at, because the tide was coming in and was going to cut off where it was stuck.

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-Was it making any effective swimming movements while it was in the water?

-In the water, yes.

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Its tail was going and we thought that it was a viable rescue.

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Right, let's have a look at it.

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With its breathing stable, Philippe then checks for any signs of injury.

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-And have you seen any bleeding, signs of trauma?

-No.

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He runs through the options with team member Alan Stewart.

0:20:090:20:13

If it's a question between giving it a chance and euthanizing it,

0:20:130:20:18

I'd prefer to give it a chance,

0:20:180:20:19

but I do think the chances are poor of its surviving.

0:20:190:20:22

Philippe decides he needs a second opinion.

0:20:220:20:25

He's only treated dolphins in the past

0:20:250:20:28

and wants even more specialist advice.

0:20:280:20:30

Can I speak to him?

0:20:300:20:32

Neil continues to look after the porpoise.

0:20:320:20:36

His dedication to saving marine wildlife never falters.

0:20:370:20:41

Dolphins and porpoises - it's a lovely feeling when you rescue them.

0:20:430:20:48

The only problem is, I get very emotional.

0:20:480:20:50

I tend to get tears in my eyes.

0:20:500:20:52

You've stayed with them for 18 hours, maybe 20 hours,

0:20:520:20:55

trying to get them refloated back into the sea and they just go.

0:20:550:20:59

It's a huge pat on the back because you've given it another chance.

0:20:590:21:03

It's fantastic.

0:21:030:21:04

Now he's hoping this rescue will also end with a release.

0:21:070:21:11

Urm, the vet seems to think it's worth giving it a chance

0:21:110:21:14

at releasing it, having a go, seeing if it will erm...

0:21:140:21:18

make a run for it.

0:21:180:21:20

But he's actually on the phone to the British Divers Marine Life Rescue vet,

0:21:200:21:25

having a word with him, seeing what he thinks.

0:21:250:21:28

So, hopefully, we'll get it on its way.

0:21:280:21:30

Day is quickly turning into night, but the news is devastating.

0:21:350:21:40

The calf is only a year old and its blubber is too thin for it to survive without its mother's milk.

0:21:400:21:46

It can't be returned to the sea.

0:21:490:21:51

The only alternative is to put it to sleep.

0:21:510:21:55

The vet's been and had a look at it, checked out the condition of the porpoise.

0:21:560:22:02

They've decided that, because of the state of the blubber on the porpoise - it's at an absolute minimal -

0:22:020:22:07

probably the most humane thing to do is to euthanize the porpoise.

0:22:070:22:12

First of all, they're going to give it a sedative

0:22:120:22:15

just to relax the porpoise and then intravenously give it

0:22:150:22:21

a dose of lithocaine, which is what puts the porpoise to sleep.

0:22:210:22:25

-It's just sad.

-Neil's upset, but he knows the vet has made the right decision.

0:22:270:22:33

If we released it back into the water, the chances are it would only last maybe a week.

0:22:330:22:37

Without its mum, it would starve, it would dehydrate and its suffering would be immeasurable.

0:22:370:22:44

Probably the most humane thing to do is to put it to sleep, put it out of its misery.

0:22:440:22:48

After five long hours, this mission is finally over.

0:22:500:22:54

The team are saddened but more determined to save whatever sea life they can.

0:22:540:22:58

Now we're back in London with Sam, the three-month-old puppy with a broken leg.

0:23:030:23:09

RSPCA inspector Imara

0:23:090:23:10

was called by a vet's after the family missed appointments to get the dog's leg treated.

0:23:100:23:17

Now Sam is to be examined.

0:23:170:23:19

-The puppy is nervous and in pain.

-I know.

0:23:260:23:29

-I know, sweetie.

-Vet Kish begins her examinations.

0:23:290:23:35

To take a closer look, she unravels the makeshift bandage.

0:23:360:23:40

It's kind of falling off.

0:23:420:23:44

I think it might have just been on for a couple of days and it looks like it's slipped.

0:23:440:23:49

Sam is clearly suffering and Kish tries to remove the dressing without causing him any more harm.

0:23:490:23:56

Puppy, don't panic. Don't panic.

0:23:560:23:58

I'm just basically feeling the toe bones here,

0:23:580:24:01

making sure that they're OK, there's no pain there.

0:24:010:24:05

Then just slowly move up the arm. I suspect that's where it's painful.

0:24:050:24:08

That's where they said the fracture was, so we'll leave that for last.

0:24:080:24:12

I think when we get here it's gonna hurt a bit.

0:24:120:24:15

Good baby, aren't you? You're very clever.

0:24:150:24:18

Imara continues to comfort Sam, but as Kish finds the break, it all becomes too much.

0:24:180:24:24

-HE YELPS

-It's swollen and painful.

0:24:240:24:26

-All right, puppy dog.

-It's OK.

0:24:260:24:29

Here it looks like there could easily be a fracture.

0:24:290:24:32

There's a bit of swelling,

0:24:320:24:33

very painful, and the bone doesn't feel normal.

0:24:330:24:37

Kish needs to do an X-ray to confirm whether Sam's leg is in fact broken.

0:24:390:24:44

The puppy is sedated to prevent any more discomfort.

0:24:440:24:47

One hour later, the results are back.

0:24:530:24:56

Only a clean break can be treated.

0:24:560:24:58

This is the main fracture, so it has actually fractured straight across the bone.

0:24:580:25:03

We can try and fix it.

0:25:030:25:05

Puppies' bones are very delicate, so it will be very delicate surgery.

0:25:050:25:10

It might work.

0:25:100:25:12

The vets decide Sam deserves a chance and agree to operate.

0:25:120:25:17

The frightened puppy is comforted as he's carried to theatre.

0:25:170:25:21

For such a young dog, this is an extremely tricky procedure.

0:25:240:25:29

But after all the efforts,

0:25:290:25:31

Imara feels it's worth taking the risk.

0:25:310:25:34

We don't really want it to be under anaesthetic for too long,

0:25:370:25:41

so we really need this one to work.

0:25:410:25:43

We don't have to put it under anaesthetic again to amputate it if it doesn't work.

0:25:430:25:47

But there is a good chance that this will work, so basically just a case

0:25:470:25:51

of biding some time and waiting and hoping that everything will be OK.

0:25:510:25:57

After a long and complicated operation,

0:25:570:26:00

Sam is brought out of theatre and left to recover.

0:26:000:26:04

Yet again, Imara is there to comfort him.

0:26:040:26:07

Hello.

0:26:070:26:09

It's an anxious time as surgeon Sebastien Pryor takes a look at how things have gone.

0:26:090:26:16

So you see from the X-rays that we took after the puppy came in,

0:26:160:26:20

it's got quite a nasty break to the end of his humerus here.

0:26:200:26:23

We were able to repair that with some little metal pins.

0:26:230:26:27

You can see by the smooth line, it's aligned well.

0:26:270:26:30

The fracture's come together quite nicely.

0:26:300:26:32

It went as well as can be expected.

0:26:320:26:33

It's a young, healthy puppy, so it's effectively a healing machine.

0:26:330:26:37

As long as we immobilise the bone and allow it to be still, that should heal very well.

0:26:370:26:42

I would hope that within three, four weeks, he'll be using that leg relatively normally.

0:26:420:26:46

He's got quite a good long-term outlook.

0:26:460:26:48

Three weeks later, Sam has stayed at the RSPCA hospital to give his fracture time to heal.

0:26:530:27:00

Now Sebastien is about to check whether his operation has worked.

0:27:000:27:04

Feeling his leg now, you can feel a nice big lump of bone over the fracture site, which is a callous.

0:27:040:27:11

The bone's healing well, he's using the leg well

0:27:110:27:13

and it looks like there'll be a satisfactory outcome.

0:27:130:27:16

With the fracture healing, Sebastien now needs to know if Sam is able to walk.

0:27:160:27:21

OK, so if we just see how he's using that leg, I'll have him walking around.

0:27:210:27:25

You can see that he's tender.

0:27:280:27:30

He's still limping on that leg.

0:27:300:27:33

I'd expect that probably to go on for the next three, four weeks, getting less with time.

0:27:330:27:37

He's using the leg well, he's putting weight on it

0:27:370:27:39

and he's placing it in the right fashion, so that's good news.

0:27:390:27:42

Sam has a real spring in his step and soon he'll be off home.

0:27:420:27:46

His owners have learnt their lesson and offered to pay for his treatment.

0:27:460:27:50

After working with them, the RSPCA believe the best place for Sam is back with his family.

0:27:500:27:55

He needs to start doing the things that normal puppies do -

0:27:550:27:59

play and eat and get on with his owners.

0:27:590:28:01

He needs to do that at home rather than in a hospital.

0:28:010:28:04

He's been a perfect patient, really.

0:28:040:28:06

And for the first time in weeks, Sam is full of beans and behaving much more like a puppy should.

0:28:060:28:12

Remember, if you know of a creature that's the victim of cruelty, persecution and neglect,

0:28:170:28:23

there are people out there who'll answer your call around the clock.

0:28:230:28:26

They are who we meet on Animal 24/7.

0:28:260:28:30

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:310:28:35

Series following people fighting to protect Britain's pets and wildlife.

The RSPCA is on the case of a puppy with a broken leg, a team from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue battles to save an orphaned porpoise, and presenter Tom Heap introduces a pair of peregrine chicks to an unsuspecting foster family.


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