Episode 11 Animal 24:7


Episode 11

Tom Heap goes a few rounds with Rocky the 16-foot python, a puppy is left struggling to walk because of cruelty, and a group of hedgehogs is squatting in a garage.


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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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Fighting to save them is a dedicated band of people

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trying to protect and care for them right around the clock.

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This is Animal 24:7.

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In the air, on land and in the water, Britain is a haven for animals.

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When they come up against man, their lives are often in danger.

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From our cramped inner cities, to our fields and hedgerows,

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from the highest moorland, to the coast and beyond,

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Animal 24:7 is with the people working around the clock

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to save endangered wildlife and protect vulnerable pets.

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These are their stories.

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Today, on Animal 24:7.

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Buster, the puppy crippled by cruelty.

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-I threw him towards the doorway, and he banged into the door.

-Right.

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We need to get that dog to a vet, get it some pain relief, if nothing else.

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Abandoned by their mum, the prickly squatters living in a garage.

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This is very unusual, I've never seen them nest like this before.

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And seconds out, we go a few rounds with Rocky, the 16ft python.

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Never turn your back on one and never ever think you know everything about it

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-because that's the day it's going to bite you.

-Great, OK.

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But we start with the story of Buster, a young dog subjected to cruelty by his owner.

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Buster is just part of a surge in the number of cases of cruelty and neglect in Britain.

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Some owners treat cruelty so lightly they don't even turn up at court to face the charges.

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But the RSPCA won't let them get away with it.

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This is what can happen if you ignore a prosecution brought by the RSPCA.

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I'm PC Acres, I am from Ashton-under-Lyne police station. You are under arrest.

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-For what?

-You don't have to say anything...

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This man has been found guilty in his absence of cruelty to his dog.

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The court has now issued a warrant for his arrest.

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You're making my kids cry.

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The owner is a single parent and he's worried about his children.

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It's a distressing situation for everyone involved.

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But for RSPCA inspector Vicki McDonald it could easily have been avoided.

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If he had turned up at court, we wouldn't have had this trouble.

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His kids wouldn't have had to go through this upset.

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He wouldn't have to go through this. He knew when he needed to be there.

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The story started five and a half months earlier.

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The RSPCA received an anonymous tip-off about a lame puppy.

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Is he known to you?

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On the this first visit, Vicki arrives with the support of the police.

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-Hiya, are you Johnny?

-Yeah, what's this about?

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I've had a call about a dog at the property.

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Someone's a bit concerned about a dog.

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-Can I just come through?

-Yeah.

-Cheers. Thank you.

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-Can I go in there?

-Yes.

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The dog is a seven-month old Staffordshire bull terrier called Buster.

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Straight away, it's clear he's in pain and his owner admits he has hit him.

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About three days ago the dog went for my youngest son.

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And erm... I smacked him for it.

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I immediately regretted doing that, but...

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I also knew I couldn't let him snap at my baby.

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My son's four years old.

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Even if Buster did growl at his son, this is no excuse for throwing him across a room.

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You know, there's me who lives here, my two sons. One of my sons is at school, and I take him to school.

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The dog is in a caring and loving home.

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Somebody has said to me that the dog has received injuries as a result of

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something that you've done and now isn't able to balance on its legs.

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He can balance on his legs. It's obvious that he's in a bit of discomfort, I appreciate that.

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Is this since you told him off, he's had this injury on his leg, is it?

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Yes, it is.

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-Has the dog been to the vet for this?

-No, not yet.

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OK, I'm going to caution you, so you do not have to say anything,

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but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned

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-something which you later rely on in court. Are you going to give me permission to take the dog?

-Yes.

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Let me record this conversation in my notebook.

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This is a clear case of cruelty.

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Under caution, Vicki asks Buster's owner to explain exactly what has happened.

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This will be used as evidence.

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Just so that the vet knows, how did the dog received the injury?

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Was it from being thrown across the room?

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It wasn't like a throw across the room.

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-I threw it towards the doorway area and he banged against the door.

-Right.

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Can you just initial your answers on here for me?

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You've answered 'yes' that you understand the caution there. You can read through it.

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Buster is only seven months old.

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Being thrown across the room has left him in agony and struggling to walk. But that's not all.

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For such a young dog, there are also some worrying scars on his head.

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Vicki is now extremely concerned about his welfare.

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The pup's clearly got injuries, hasn't it?

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Its really uncomfortable on its back-end, there.

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It's got some old injury.

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That's not just a cut its received on its head, the skull is lumpy there.

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We need to get that dog to a vet, get it examined, get it X-rayed.

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At least get it some pain relief, if nothing else.

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Come on, then, you.

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Here you go. I think I'll carry you to the van, to be honest.

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Save you walking.

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Come on, then, poppet.

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OK, I'll be back in touch with you later. All right?

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All right. See you.

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Vicki now needs to prove that it's this man's actions that have caused Buster's lameness.

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She's taking the dog to the vet.

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His findings will be crucial in any prosecution.

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It's so sore, his back-end.

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We'll get you sorted.

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Buster will now remain in the RSPCA's care until the outcome of the court case.

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But, whatever happens, he's unlikely ever to come back to his owner.

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Still to come, the vet's examinations reveal a worrying problem for Buster.

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His mind isn't telling him that his foot's in that position and that he needs to correct it.

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We'll just see what the X-rays tell us.

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And me, scared of snakes?

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I help move Rocky, the 16ft python, to a new home.

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That is one big snake, isn't it?

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What a weight, what a weight!

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Most of the time, wild animals keep a safe distance from people.

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But, sometimes, they seem to want to get up close and personal, making homes in more unusual settings.

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It could be a bird in your chimneypot or a mouse in your house.

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Both typical of how creatures creep into our domestic lives.

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These are not the only places where animals make themselves at home.

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Animal rescuer Trevor Weeks is well used to finding animals in unusual places.

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But sometimes even he's surprised.

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-Oh, wow, they've got a nice nest there, haven't they?

-My daughter's been looking after them.

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He's at a house in Sussex, where a family of hedgehogs have made their home in a cupboard.

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This is very unusual.

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I've never seen them nest in a cupboard like this before.

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They're nice and warm.

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They're gorgeous little things.

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For homeowner Paula Bond, their arrival also came as something of a shock.

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My brother was actually putting some stuff in here, and he moved a jacket, and it was a bit heavy.

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As he lifted it, a couple of the babies fell out of the arm.

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So, what we did was we picked up the jacket, popped it in the cupboard.

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Since then, the mum comes down the ramp we made, she disappears for the night and comes back in the morning.

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The hedgehog family have been enjoying the Bonds' hospitality,

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but last night their bedding was changed

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and now Mother has disappeared.

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I'm going to leave them here for the moment

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and see what happens.

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I think revisit them later and see if they start wandering.

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I think we'll keep a close eye on these for the next 12 to 24 hours

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and if Mum does abandon them, we'll have to bring them in and make sure they get a good meal and a good feed.

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Paula's daughter has been feeding them milk and bread, but this isn't recommended.

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My daughter was trying to help.

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The wives' tale say bread and milk, but unfortunately it is not very good, I'm afraid.

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Trevor leaves out a plate of cat food instead.

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That's nice and moist, anyway.

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That might even encourage Mum up, as well.

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We don't really want to give her more than 24 hours without coming back.

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So, if I can

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ask you to keep an eye on them tonight,

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and then if they start calling, or start wandering,

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give us a ring and they'll have to come in.

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-I'm quite happy to come back at about 11 o'clock tonight.

-That's fine.

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And have a look and check them, see if they're getting cold.

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Because if they don't eat, they may get cold and then they'll have to come in anyway.

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With the the baby hedgehogs safe for now, Trevor leaves Paula with the prickly problem of monitoring them.

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He heads off to another creature that's gate-crashed its way into a home nearby.

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This time, it's a bat in a bungalow.

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Hello there, Wildlife Rescue.

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-Hello.

-You've got a little bat for us to look at?

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I was just clearing up before it rained and noticed the little chap on the ground.

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-He was down on some rubble, covered in cobwebs.

-Oh, dear.

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I thought it was dead, actually.

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Then my husband had a look and picked it up and it moved.

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It needs feeding. We've been feeding it house flies.

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OK. He's nice and lively, as well, so he's not too weak.

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I can see the bottom part of his body is very thin.

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With no obvious signs of what's causing the bat to be so thin, Trevor opts for a second opinion.

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I think what I'm going to do

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is let the experts deal with this and let them assess him.

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I'm not going to stress him out trying to do it myself.

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Let's get you into here.

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With the bat losing weight and unable to fly, its prospects don't look good.

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It's going to need careful handling if it is going to survive.

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Trevor takes it to expert Jenny Clark.

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She has 25 years' experience of handling bats.

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Right, we've got a little bat for you.

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I'm just going to give him a drink

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before I examine him to make him more comfortable.

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Jenny confirms it's a pipistrelle bat and is severely undernourished.

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Bats get dehydrated very quickly.

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They've got such a large skin area.

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Is that better?

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That's enough for the moment.

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After a drink, a closer inspection

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reveals this bat may have been deliberately attacked.

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Here we go. We have a bit of tattered membrane

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and a tiny hole which is usually Mr Cat.

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That will be the problem why the bat is unable to fly.

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I would suggest that Mr Cat has been lying in wait for Bat

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when it came down to drink,

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put out its delicate little paw and tossed it.

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The membrane is ripped.

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The skirmish has also damaged the bat's fur coat.

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Jenny will have to clean this up to enable it to grow back healthily.

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There we go. We're getting there.

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Now, a bat who has a matted coat won't survive long.

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It can't control his body temperature. This will soon grow.

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The bad will comb it and that'll be fluffed up in no time.

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Next comes the delicate operation

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of clearing dead tissue from the damaged wing.

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I'm just looking at the edge of the membrane

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for any dried necrotic tissue.

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There's a little bit which has to be removed.

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There we go. There's a little bit on that edge I've taken off there.

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That's healthy tissue. That's all healthy. That's good.

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Then, Jenny uses her expert knowledge of bats to persuade this one to take his medicine.

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We have to use a bit of guile.

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If we stroke the forehead, and the little mouth opens.

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Let's get the tissue out of the way. There we are. Open up.

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Open wide, that's it.

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And we put a bit on the back teeth.

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There you go. That wasn't so bad, was it?

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Eat it up. Good batty.

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He is then carefully put into a padded box

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where the inside of an oven glove will serve as his temporary home.

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The membrane should mend within two months, hopefully.

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Then, when he's the right weight, and with a mended membrane,

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I shall fly him in the sitting room.

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And I may have to fly him over a period of a week or two

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every other day to build up his strength and stamina,

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then can be released. Hopefully.

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It's a successful rescue

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and if anyone can give this bat a brighter future, it's Jenny.

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Coming up...

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Oh.

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..one of the baby hedgehogs makes a run for it.

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Hello, you.

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There's number six.

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And Buster, the injured puppy, shows signs of a troubled past.

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He appears to have had several injuries.

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For seven months old, I think he's been very unlucky.

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Rescuing unwanted pets isn't always about cute cats and dogs.

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With a 20% increase in the number of people owning exotic pets,

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call-outs concerning more dangerous animals are on the rise.

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In Essex, a 16ft python is looking for a new home.

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So this job is going to need a special kind of person,

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brave enough to take on the fight.

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This is Rocky, weighing in at 100lbs and 16ft in length.

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She's a real heavyweight champion.

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Rocky is a 20-year-old Burmese python

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and the prized pet of Keith Ramsey.

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But, in recent years, she's become too hot to handle.

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How come you've got such a big snake in your garage?

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It came with the wife, actually.

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We met about 18 years ago and she already had the snake which then,

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I guess, was about three years old.

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Years ago, when it was younger, it was easy to handle.

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My children used to play with it.

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It was great fun.

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In recent years, due to the size, we just have become very wary,

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I think, of the dangers of handling such a large reptile.

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So, Rocky hasn't had much human contact in recent years?

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Not in the last four or five years, no.

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You've become a bit nervous of something that big?

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I think so. Yes.

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Keith is now moving to Spain.

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So Rocky needs a new keeper.

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Who's prepared to go a few rounds with this champion,

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who's so big she's not been handled for almost five years?

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Enter dangerous and wild animal rescuer, Ian Newby.

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-So you've got a bit of kit in here?

-Yes. Just a box.

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That's very large Tupperware you've got there.

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-I'm not sure it's big enough.

-Really?

-Really.

-We might need a bigger box.

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In Ian's corner today is Sam Heals.

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It's just as well. Ian is punching well above his weight.

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The Burmese python is one of the biggest snakes in the world

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and it's capable of crushing a man to death.

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Ian's come prepared for a fight with Rocky.

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-She's not venomous, is she?

-No.

-But a bite can still be a fairly unpleasant experience?

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Very unpleasant. A snake this size, it will be like a punch.

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You'll feel the force of somebody punching you.

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Attach, then, 30 or 40 teeth, straight into your arm or shoulder,

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face, or whatever, and it will hurt.

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And the teeth are going to be a centimetre long.

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If she holds on, and tries to coil round,

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that's why you should never handle snakes over 10ft long on your own.

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Even if you are experienced, always make sure there's someone else that can actually help you.

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So the idea is that if it starts wrapping itself round you,

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Sam is going to be the one that's going to uncoil? Is that right, Sam?

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Yeah, we don't mind the little ones, it's the big ones that are the problem. It could be interesting.

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-You haven't seen it.

-I haven't.

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So you may as well have a look and then we'll try to catch her and bring her out.

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Ian's ready, so it's time to finally meet his opponent.

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-Good Lord!

-First impressions?

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I have to say the word monstrous springs to mind. Monstrously large.

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Only when you feel the power of something that size do you really get respect for them.

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Never turn your back on one and never think you know everything because that's the day it'll bite.

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Well, if I wasn't on edge already, I think you've certainly put me on edge now. That's great. OK.

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I'm going to make myself scarce, I think. Head up to the other end. Watch from a safe distance.

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-Good luck, Sam.

-OK, if you go over this side, the door opens this way.

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The problem with this is really the unpredictability.

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It can go to ways and they're very different.

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Either very docile, or very aggressive.

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-I'm gonna go for this.

-Go on, then.

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-Just stand back a little bit.

-Give you some space.

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See what kind of reaction I get.

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Seconds out, round one.

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Ian softens up his opponent with careful use of his hook.

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All right, there. There you go.

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And it seems to work. Rocky doesn't fight back.

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Right, Sam.

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-We're on our own. All right?

-OK.

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Carefully does it.

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It's round one to Ian.

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Hang on, I'll put her over my shoulder.

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But Rocky looks like she's about to strike.

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Hang on a second, Sam.

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Calm down, fella. That's it. Let's go.

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I keep well back as the fight moves outside to the car park.

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Have you got the tail-end, Tom?

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That is one big snake, isn't it?

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What a weight, what a weight!

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There's a good lad.

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It's between my legs.

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There we go.

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Wow!

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-It's a lot bigger than I thought it was.

-Really?

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Yeah, but she's lovely condition, isn't she?

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-She's doing really good.

-Gorgeous girl.

0:20:200:20:22

Hello, darling. Is this your first time out in a few years?

0:20:220:20:25

She is absolutely beautiful but I have to say, as her tail whips round between my legs,

0:20:250:20:32

still a little bit unnerving.

0:20:320:20:34

That is gorgeous.

0:20:340:20:37

Now Ian needs to keep her calm for the journey back to DWARF,

0:20:370:20:40

and he's got just the thing - a good old-fashioned duvet cover.

0:20:400:20:45

King-size, of course.

0:20:450:20:46

Are you in?

0:20:460:20:47

I always thought getting a quilt into one of these things was tricky. It's nothing compared to this.

0:20:470:20:54

-Just twist that. There's a cable tie there.

-Tight?

-Yeah.

0:20:540:20:58

And, in a break with tradition, Ian decides to have a weigh-in after the fight.

0:20:580:21:03

Very heavy shoes, you understand, that's why it says 14 stone.

0:21:030:21:07

It's not me, of course. Right, let's give it a go.

0:21:070:21:09

And it's time to find out who the real heavyweight is.

0:21:090:21:13

If we pass that over your shoulder, tell me when you're ready.

0:21:130:21:17

Are you ready? We'll let go. You're there.

0:21:170:21:20

-It's gone right round, it makes it one stone.

-Your legs are buckling.

0:21:200:21:24

Minus my weight, Rocky weighs in at a massive 7.5 stone.

0:21:240:21:29

It's just beginning to wriggle in the bag. I think it's warming up!

0:21:290:21:34

It's time I put my load down.

0:21:340:21:35

So far, Ian's proved more than a match for Rocky but it's crunch time.

0:21:350:21:40

Will we need a bigger box?

0:21:400:21:42

I don't think she'll go in.

0:21:440:21:46

Yeah, she will. I'm not going to put the lid on.

0:21:460:21:48

Yeah, she'll be in.

0:21:480:21:50

She's squeezed in?

0:21:500:21:52

Yeah, she'll just manoeuvre herself round to a comfortable position now. There we are.

0:21:520:21:58

So with Rocky squeezed into the box, it's time for us to leave,

0:21:580:22:02

and this ordinary suburban house is her new home - DWARF HQ.

0:22:020:22:06

Ian rescues all manner of wild and dangerous animals

0:22:060:22:09

and keeps them in his specially adapted backyard until they can be found a new owner.

0:22:090:22:14

-There's a good girl.

-Now it's time to get our new guest settled in.

0:22:140:22:19

-Are we feeding her into her new home?

-Yeah, next two or three feet.

0:22:190:22:22

-OK, do you want to...?

-There she goes.

-How are we doing?

0:22:220:22:26

That's about half of her.

0:22:260:22:27

I've already fed in quite a few feet and there's more to go yet!

0:22:270:22:31

-There's a bit more to come.

-This is a perfect halfway house for Rocky

0:22:310:22:35

but Ian's confident he will soon be able to find this heavyweight champ a new permanent home.

0:22:350:22:41

I shouldn't have a problem finding her a good home.

0:22:410:22:44

She's such good condition, she's a gorgeous animal.

0:22:440:22:47

There are people that do care for these animals.

0:22:470:22:50

She's really exploring her new surroundings.

0:22:500:22:52

Every log and ledge is getting slithered over to check it out.

0:22:520:22:56

And it is mesmerising to watch.

0:22:560:22:59

Still to come: Trevor decides whether these baby hedgehogs can survive without mum.

0:23:040:23:10

This is a really difficult one to call, to be honest.

0:23:100:23:13

They're still nicely cuddled up together.

0:23:130:23:15

They may well survive the night.

0:23:150:23:17

Now back to the story of Buster.

0:23:200:23:23

Buster is a seven-month-old puppy

0:23:230:23:25

who's in pain and struggling to walk.

0:23:250:23:27

His owner has already admitted throwing him across a room after he growled at his son.

0:23:270:23:32

Now RSPCA inspector Vicki McDonald is taking the young dog to the vet's

0:23:320:23:37

to see what damage has been caused.

0:23:370:23:40

In Bury, Manchester RSPCA inspector Vicki McDonald arrives at the vet's.

0:23:450:23:51

She's hoping they'll explain why Buster is struggling to walk

0:23:510:23:55

and why he's covered in worrying scars.

0:23:550:23:58

Hello!

0:23:580:24:00

Despite being frightened and in pain,

0:24:010:24:03

Buster remains good natured and is happy to be carried around.

0:24:030:24:08

Are you being a good boy?

0:24:090:24:12

Vet Gus McKenzie has prepared a room for the injured puppy and is ready to check him over.

0:24:120:24:17

-Hiya.

-How are you doing?

0:24:170:24:20

Not bad.

0:24:200:24:22

Who have we got here?

0:24:220:24:23

This is Buster.

0:24:230:24:26

He's come from a property where the owner has admitted

0:24:260:24:30

that he threw him across the room after an incident.

0:24:300:24:34

He's been thrown about seven foot, landing on a door.

0:24:340:24:38

By the door or against the door?

0:24:380:24:40

He says he's hit the door. In what way, I'm not entirely sure, but he's landed on the door.

0:24:400:24:46

He's been lame ever since. He said he woke up yesterday and was particularly worried about it

0:24:460:24:50

and thought he should take him to a vet.

0:24:500:24:52

Any idea what time he threw the dog?

0:24:520:24:54

Don't know as yet, I've only done a brief interview with him.

0:24:540:24:57

But certainly when we arrived, the dog was laying down and had a lot of difficulty walking.

0:24:570:25:03

He's choosing to sit down on his back end, rather than be up on it.

0:25:030:25:08

And has he made any comment about the scar on top of his head here?

0:25:080:25:12

He says that the scar on the head was a cut

0:25:120:25:15

the dog received some time ago and then the dog was scratching at it.

0:25:150:25:20

It almost looks like it could be some sort of a scald injury, that,

0:25:220:25:25

but I think it's an old injury. I don't think it's related to this episode.

0:25:250:25:30

And we see there's a small cut on his left leg.

0:25:300:25:34

That looks about two days old.

0:25:340:25:36

It doesn't look like it's a big problem, it's healed over all right.

0:25:360:25:41

Good boy.

0:25:410:25:42

After checking all of Buster's scars,

0:25:420:25:45

Gus wants to see how he walks,

0:25:450:25:48

but the young dog can only manage a few short steps. The vet has seen enough.

0:25:480:25:52

Yeah, sore in his left hind leg, isn't he?

0:25:520:25:55

-Yeah.

-Probably both, actually, but he's more painful on his left.

0:25:550:25:59

Good lad, come this way. He'd rather be sitting down.

0:25:590:26:03

That's the thing.

0:26:030:26:05

Even though he's uncomfortable, Buster never once growls and is still desperate for attention.

0:26:050:26:12

Are you a good boy? Who's a brave soldier?!

0:26:120:26:15

Gus wants to know how anyone could ignore his pain.

0:26:150:26:19

There's some...justification, if a dog actually attacks one's child,

0:26:190:26:24

that your reaction would be to pick the dog up

0:26:240:26:27

and throw it out of the way,

0:26:270:26:29

but if it's lame like this, I would expect

0:26:290:26:33

having sorted that problem out, to then seek veterinary advice.

0:26:330:26:36

So it depends what sort of injuries we've got here and whether it's

0:26:360:26:40

reasonable not to have sought veterinary advice.

0:26:400:26:42

Right, what I'm going to do now is assess whether there's any nervous damage to the hind legs.

0:26:420:26:49

You can see he can wag his tail quite happily.

0:26:490:26:53

Don't worry, I'm not going to cut his tail off.

0:26:530:26:56

I just want to see if he can feel this,

0:26:560:26:57

any reaction at the front end there?

0:26:590:27:01

Buster can sense his tail and back feet being squeezed.

0:27:010:27:05

So he can definitely feel that.

0:27:050:27:08

He also reacts to a needle being pricked in his back.

0:27:080:27:11

He can actually feel that needle prick.

0:27:110:27:14

This means there isn't significant nerve damage to his spine.

0:27:140:27:17

I think what is interesting is he's allowed me to squeeze his toes

0:27:170:27:22

with a pair of scissors and his tail and stick needles into them.

0:27:220:27:27

He's shown not the slightest bit of aggression,

0:27:270:27:30

so whether or not, you know...

0:27:300:27:32

what the score was with him apparently going for the child, I don't know.

0:27:320:27:38

So far Gus's examinations aren't showing any nerve damage.

0:27:380:27:43

What they are showing is Buster is a good-natured dog.

0:27:430:27:46

You don't seem to be too bothered.

0:27:460:27:49

-Still wagging.

-Still wagging his tail.

-Who's a good boy?

0:27:490:27:53

But then Gus performs some simple tests on his back feet

0:27:530:27:57

and they reveal a worrying problem.

0:27:570:27:59

See, when I turn it,

0:27:590:28:01

he's snapping that straight into position.

0:28:010:28:04

Whereas with that one, he's not.

0:28:040:28:09

That means the nervous pathways aren't working properly.

0:28:090:28:12

His mind isn't telling him that his foot's in that position

0:28:120:28:16

and that he needs to correct it.

0:28:160:28:18

-We'll just see what the X-rays tell us.

-Good boy.

0:28:180:28:22

Buster is sedated and anaesthetised ready for his X-rays.

0:28:220:28:27

Then Vicki spots yet another old wound.

0:28:270:28:31

I've found a stitch still in him here

0:28:310:28:34

and you can actually see a faint line running down here,

0:28:340:28:38

which suggests that he has, for some reason, had an operation before.

0:28:380:28:43

Two things I'd be interested to know, why has he, what was it for?

0:28:430:28:47

But also, it goes to show that if this is some surgery he's had whilst in the care of this man,

0:28:470:28:54

this man has the knowledge that veterinary treatment is at times necessary.

0:28:540:28:59

And a closer examination reveals even more scars on Buster's body.

0:28:590:29:03

He's got further grazing here.

0:29:030:29:05

Vicki takes photographs. These will form evidence for the court case.

0:29:050:29:09

He appears to...to have had several...several injuries,

0:29:090:29:16

yeah, for seven months old, I think he's been very unlucky.

0:29:160:29:21

It's just establishing exactly how unlucky, isn't it?

0:29:210:29:25

This job has suddenly become much more complicated than first thought

0:29:270:29:32

and Gus still needs to know what's causing his lameness.

0:29:320:29:36

Difficult on examination to say

0:29:360:29:39

whether there's going to be any fractures there or not.

0:29:390:29:43

It could be simply muscular but X-rays will tell us.

0:29:430:29:47

Coming up: Buster's owner is finally brought to justice.

0:29:520:29:56

I don't want to be filmed.

0:29:560:29:59

This is the actual warrant here.

0:29:590:30:01

Earlier in the programme, animal rescuer Trevor Weekes

0:30:040:30:08

was called to some baby hedgehogs living in a garage cupboard.

0:30:080:30:12

It seemed like their mother had abandoned them.

0:30:120:30:15

Trevor left the babies with food and water and promised to return later,

0:30:150:30:20

giving their mum a chance to come back.

0:30:200:30:22

It's almost 11pm in Sussex and Trevor Weekes is back at Paula Bond's garage.

0:30:280:30:32

He wants to know if mother hedgehog has returned to her babies.

0:30:320:30:37

OK...well, the food hasn't been touched.

0:30:410:30:44

Trevor's attempt to lure her back with a plate of free food hasn't worked.

0:30:440:30:49

Now, with the babies potentially at risk, he has a tough choice to make.

0:30:490:30:54

This is difficult to call, to be honest.

0:30:540:30:57

The food hasn't been touched

0:30:570:30:59

but they're still nicely cuddled up together

0:30:590:31:02

and they're still nice and warm.

0:31:020:31:04

They may well survive the night, I think.

0:31:040:31:08

The fact that they're not moving at all as yet,

0:31:080:31:11

nothing has come back to look at the food at all

0:31:110:31:14

but they're not calling.

0:31:140:31:16

You know, they're nicely curled up together.

0:31:160:31:19

I would have expected Mum to have come back, eaten the food and the youngsters to be OK.

0:31:190:31:24

Although there's no sign of the mother, Trevor decides to give her one final chance to return.

0:31:240:31:30

Abandoned youngsters are normally calling and wandering around

0:31:300:31:35

and that clearly isn't what we've got here.

0:31:350:31:39

I really don't want to bring them in unless I absolutely have to

0:31:390:31:42

because quite often if a cat disturbs the nest, Mum will leave,

0:31:420:31:47

to draw the attention away from where the youngsters are.

0:31:470:31:50

But that's normally at the time of the disturbance,

0:31:500:31:53

rather than this long afterwards.

0:31:530:31:55

-I'm inclined to say we'll leave them and check on them again first thing in the morning.

-OK.

0:31:550:32:00

That's the best way forward.

0:32:000:32:02

Nine hours later and Trevor is back at the garage again.

0:32:060:32:09

This time, though, there's been an unexpected development.

0:32:090:32:13

Any sign of possible mum?

0:32:130:32:15

-No but the food's all gone.

-Right, OK.

0:32:150:32:18

Oh, there has been some movement.

0:32:180:32:20

The food has been eaten and there's evidence the young are starting to move around.

0:32:220:32:27

The cat food is down onto the floor. We've got bedding down on the floor.

0:32:270:32:31

The only thing that concerns me is they're not as warm as yesterday.

0:32:310:32:36

And one of the six babies has vanished.

0:32:360:32:39

But as Trevor weighs up what to do, he hears a noise.

0:32:390:32:42

-SQUEAKING

-That is a bird outside, isn't it?

0:32:420:32:48

-SQUEAKING

-Ooh... Follow me.

0:32:480:32:53

It's the missing baby - lost, distressed and calling for Mum.

0:32:530:32:58

There's number six. I thought there were six last night and I could only count five.

0:32:580:33:02

Then I heard some squeaking in the background and initially I thought that was a bird.

0:33:020:33:07

And it's not, it's a little hedgehog.

0:33:070:33:10

And then I looked out the garage and I could just about see him.

0:33:100:33:13

That gives me a clear indication that these are probably abandoned,

0:33:130:33:17

so I think I've now got the evidence and proof I need to bring them in.

0:33:170:33:22

The babies are just a few weeks old

0:33:220:33:24

and still reliant on their mother's milk.

0:33:240:33:27

If Trevor left them, their chance of survival would be bleak.

0:33:270:33:31

These animals probably would have a vitamin deficiency or nutritional problems if we left them

0:33:310:33:37

and just kept putting food down for them.

0:33:370:33:40

So I think we need to bring them in so they can begiven the care and treatment that Mum would give them.

0:33:400:33:45

It's time for these babies to move out of their makeshift home.

0:33:450:33:51

Come on then, you, little 'un. So in you go.

0:33:510:33:55

The Bond family have done a good joblooking after them

0:33:550:33:59

but now Paula has to say a reluctant goodbye.

0:33:590:34:02

We've been checking them every evening, every morning, especially my daughter.

0:34:020:34:06

She wanted to rear them herself now.

0:34:060:34:09

But if they've got a good chance of surviving, it's better they've gone.

0:34:090:34:13

The hedgehog hospital is just a short distance away

0:34:130:34:17

and staff have been preparing for the new arrivals.

0:34:170:34:21

Hedgehog specialist Melissa Fisk will now be their foster mum.

0:34:210:34:25

OK, we've got six young hedgehogs. I think they're about four weeks old.

0:34:250:34:30

I put some cat food in a dish and most was eaten in the night.

0:34:300:34:34

Oh, excellent, that's good. OK, right.

0:34:340:34:36

First, the hedgehogs are weighed and marked so their progress can be monitored.

0:34:360:34:41

Right, so we just put a bit of colour on each one -

0:34:410:34:45

this is non-toxic - so we know who's who and what the weight is, erm...

0:34:450:34:49

Yeah, and if they need medicines.

0:34:490:34:52

Yeah, that's a little boy.

0:34:540:34:56

They look nice and healthy in themselves. They're nice and clean.

0:34:560:34:59

Usually the flies will get to them and they'll sort of lay eggs in no time at all.

0:34:590:35:04

We usually, you know, do get them in at this size where they've been covered in fly eggs.

0:35:040:35:08

Looking after baby hedgehogs is much harder than people think.

0:35:080:35:12

Hedgehogs have got so many illnesses that they can suffer from

0:35:120:35:16

that if you don't know what you're looking at, an animal could go downhill quickly and then die.

0:35:160:35:21

But luckily these youngsters were rescued just in time

0:35:210:35:24

and now they're able to stay as a family group.

0:35:240:35:27

I'll put them into their bed now. They're all weighed

0:35:270:35:30

and we will get them into bed and get them some food and drink.

0:35:300:35:32

The future for these looks good, yeah, hopeful.

0:35:320:35:35

It doesn't look like there's anything obviously wrong with them, so just a case of building them up,

0:35:350:35:40

monitoring their health and off they go in a couple of months

0:35:400:35:43

We now know that these are definitely abandoned,

0:35:430:35:46

so there isn't a mum out there looking and searching for them.

0:35:460:35:49

And we know they'll be hand-reared properly.

0:35:490:35:51

They will hopefully be nice and fit and healthy in a couple of months

0:35:510:35:54

and can go back out to where they deserve to be, in the wild.

0:35:540:35:58

Living in the garage may have been a case of cupboard love for these young orphans

0:35:580:36:03

but the experts can give them the long-term specialist care they need

0:36:030:36:07

and they'll be back in the wild very soon.

0:36:070:36:11

Finally today, it's back to Bury in Greater Manchester,

0:36:150:36:18

where RSPCA inspector Vicki McDonald is investigating a dog cruelty case.

0:36:180:36:23

Buster the seven-month-old Staffie had been thrown across the room by his owner.

0:36:230:36:28

He's had difficulty bearing weight on his hind legs ever since.

0:36:280:36:32

Now he's at the vets and his X-ray results are back.

0:36:320:36:37

Buster is shaky and unsure

0:36:430:36:45

and is left in peace to come round from the anaesthetic.

0:36:450:36:49

Meanwhile, vet Gus Mackenzie is trying to establish the cause of his lameness.

0:36:490:36:54

The left hip is definitely abnormal compared to the right hip.

0:36:540:36:58

The bone development is not normal in this area here,

0:36:580:37:01

compared to the other side, where you've got more normal development there.

0:37:010:37:06

There's a possibility of Legg-Perthes disease going on here.

0:37:060:37:11

We can't make a definitive diagnosis on that

0:37:110:37:14

and my plan would be to put it on pain relief, rest,

0:37:140:37:18

re X-ray in four to six weeks' time,

0:37:180:37:20

and then confirm whether or not we've got Legg-Perthes disease,

0:37:200:37:24

in which case we may need to recommend surgery.

0:37:240:37:27

Another problem for Buster to overcome.

0:37:270:37:30

It's relatively common and could be cured by an operation

0:37:300:37:34

but the X-rays also reveal more unusual injuries that may prevent this surgery.

0:37:340:37:39

There has been a fracture of some description here,

0:37:390:37:43

which has been repaired with a screw

0:37:430:37:47

and what we call a Kirschner wire. That stabilises the fracture.

0:37:470:37:52

The dog was probably three to four months old

0:37:520:37:56

when it received that injury, whatever that injury was.

0:37:560:38:00

It's not a hugely common injury but we do see it

0:38:000:38:05

and it can happen as a result of all sorts of traumatic episodes.

0:38:050:38:11

Buster's X-rays are slowly unravelling this dog's troubled past.

0:38:120:38:17

Next, Gus attempts to determine what may have caused the scars on his head.

0:38:170:38:21

There's a lump of extra bone here and that extra bone,

0:38:210:38:26

we would normally expect, would be as a result of some sort of bang on the head.

0:38:260:38:30

Buster's got a distressing portfolio of pictures,

0:38:300:38:33

something his owner will now have to explain.

0:38:330:38:37

It worries me that a dog of this age has received as many injuries as it has and appears to have...

0:38:370:38:43

..other suggestions of traumatic experiences.

0:38:450:38:48

What I need to do now is speak to... Go back and speak to him,

0:38:480:38:52

interview him and see what he has to say about it,

0:38:540:38:58

and it will help us form a better picture of what the situation is that we've got here.

0:38:580:39:04

But I think Buster's certainly been through a lot in a short period of time.

0:39:040:39:09

Vicki may never be able to prove how Buster's old injuries were caused

0:39:090:39:13

but his owner has already admitted that he threw him across the room. That in itself is cruelty.

0:39:130:39:19

Are you feeling a bit woozy?

0:39:230:39:26

Hey? You're a good boy.

0:39:260:39:28

Yes, you are. You are a bit wobbly, aren't you?

0:39:280:39:32

After seven long months of tests and X-rays,

0:39:390:39:42

the vets finally come to an agonising decision.

0:39:420:39:46

Buster is just over a year old

0:39:460:39:48

but has more than a lifetime of injuries.

0:39:480:39:52

Even if they operated, his damaged limbs are just too weak

0:39:520:39:55

to support him through his recovery.

0:39:550:39:58

It's heartbreaking but the best thing for Buster is to end his suffering.

0:39:580:40:03

Vicki is with him in his final moments.

0:40:030:40:06

We've just given him mild sedation, prior to putting him to sleep.

0:40:060:40:11

I think it's better for him just to be a little bit woozy just before.

0:40:110:40:18

I want this just to be as least stressful for him as possible.

0:40:190:40:25

He's had enough stress in his life already.

0:40:250:40:29

It's a sad end for Buster

0:40:310:40:33

and a day all RSPCA inspectors dread

0:40:330:40:37

but at least Buster's pain will soon be over.

0:40:370:40:40

You always hope for a happy ending, especially with, like,

0:40:400:40:46

cases that have been particularly cruel and nasty.

0:40:460:40:51

You always like to have a happy ending

0:40:510:40:54

but unfortunately life isn't always like that.

0:40:540:40:59

It's not always the happy ending that you want.

0:41:000:41:04

Buster's owner still has to account for his cruelty.

0:41:140:41:18

The RSPCA charge him with causing unnecessary suffering to his dog.

0:41:180:41:23

But he fails to turn up at court on two occasions

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and is found guilty in his absence.

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23 weeks after Buster was thrown against a door,

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the police arrest his owner.

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This is the warrant that's been issued.

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Now there is another charge to add to his conviction for cruelty - failing to appear in court.

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Buster's owner is ordered to do 200 hours' community service

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and banned from keeping any animal for ten years.

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Although it's been a sad ending for Buster, for the RSPCA

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this has been a chance to show there's no excuse for animal cruelty and no escape from the law.

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If you think you know of a case of wildlife crime,

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or a creature that needs immediate protection,

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remember there are dedicated professionals out there who will answer your call around the clock.

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They are the people we meet on Animal 24:7.

0:42:240:42:28

Next time: The frightened boxer in need of rescue.

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A dog that's nervous can turn aggressive,

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so I'm just gonna give him chance to recognise what's going on.

0:42:370:42:41

In search of the 30 foot sharks in Scottish waters.

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Yeah, there's a shark about 100 metres at half-past 12.

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Oh, fantastic!

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And the home-grown squirrels fighting for survival.

0:42:500:42:53

It's my first proper sight, actually, of a red squirrel other than on the telly.

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-They're beautiful creatures.

-They are.

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd 2009

0:43:220:43:26

E-mail [email protected]

0:43:260:43:29

Series following people who protect and work closely with wildlife and domestic animals.

Animal 24:7 presenter Tom Heap goes a few rounds with Rocky the 16 foot python. Also featured are Buster - a puppy struggling to walk because of cruelty - and a group of baby hedgehogs squatting in a garage.