Episode 13 Animal 24:7


Episode 13

Presenter Tom Heap joins the investigation into claims that racing greyhounds are being abused. The RSPCA tries to persuade one pet owner to sign over his beloved cats.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to Episode 13. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

Britain's animals are under threat.

0:00:030:00:05

All too often, our wildlife and domestic pets

0:00:050:00:09

are the victims of cruelty, persecution and neglect.

0:00:090:00:12

Fighting to save them is a dedicated band of people trying

0:00:120:00:15

to protect and care for them right around the clock.

0:00:150:00:18

This is Animal 24/7.

0:00:180:00:21

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

0:00:400:00:47

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

0:00:470:00:51

From our cramped inner cities to our fields and hedgerows,

0:00:510:00:54

from the highest moorland to the coast and beyond, Animal 24/7 is

0:00:540:00:58

with the people working around the clock to save endangered wildlife and protect vulnerable pets.

0:00:580:01:04

These are their stories.

0:01:040:01:07

Today, on Animal 24/7, no way out.

0:01:090:01:12

Three felines locked in a filthy flat.

0:01:120:01:16

I've never actually seen or smelt anything quite like this.

0:01:160:01:21

I can't believe that a living thing is actually here.

0:01:210:01:23

I join an investigation into claims that racing greyhounds are being abused.

0:01:230:01:29

The initial call was about them being locked up 24/7. They were locked up in a shed.

0:01:290:01:33

Oh, no, not in a shed. No.

0:01:330:01:35

And it's a busy day for this canoe club, as they rustle up 60 swans for their annual MOT.

0:01:350:01:41

With these things, you know, they're wild animals, so anything can happen.

0:01:410:01:46

Reports of animals being kept in dirty conditions are an everyday occurrence for the RSPCA,

0:01:480:01:55

but every so often, a case comes along that shocks even the most hardened inspector.

0:01:550:02:00

In North Yorkshire, Helen Smith is on a job where three cats are being kept in horrific surroundings.

0:02:000:02:06

But it's not just the animals that are living in squalor.

0:02:060:02:09

Amazingly, their owner lives here, too.

0:02:090:02:13

It's early morning in Scarborough and in this block of flats

0:02:140:02:19

live three cats that are virtually housebound.

0:02:190:02:21

For the second time in as many days, RSPCA inspector Helen Smith arrives at the property.

0:02:240:02:31

Yesterday, Helen warned the owner about the way he was keeping his pets.

0:02:310:02:34

Now she's come back to see if anything has changed.

0:02:340:02:38

This is a property that has, apparently, three cats in it.

0:02:380:02:41

At the minute, the conditions are not good, to say the least.

0:02:410:02:47

Although the owner's not in, Helen's been given permission by the landlord to go inside.

0:02:470:02:53

The open door instantly reveals why Helen is so concerned for these animals.

0:02:530:02:58

As you can see, there's faeces as soon as you walk in.

0:02:580:03:01

But the state of this flat means she must take extra precautions before she can go in.

0:03:010:03:06

I've served the person who lives here with a warning notice.

0:03:060:03:10

I've given him a week and a half to clean an area for the cats to live in

0:03:100:03:15

and now I'm just going to go and take some photographs for our case.

0:03:150:03:19

Every single room in this small flat is in an appalling state.

0:03:200:03:24

What makes this case worse is that the cats are locked in here, day and night, with no means of escape.

0:03:240:03:32

The evidence of neglect is powerfully obvious and it's amazing

0:03:320:03:35

that anything could survive in these horrific conditions.

0:03:350:03:38

Obviously, I can only describe the smell but it is actually hitting the back of my throat

0:03:380:03:43

and it's just a pure smell of cat faeces and cat urine.

0:03:430:03:47

These cats are living in here, constantly.

0:03:470:03:49

Cannot get any fresh air, whatsoever.

0:03:490:03:51

All they are basically doing is inhaling

0:03:510:03:53

their own faeces and own urine, which eventually, after a period of time, is going to cause damage to them.

0:03:530:03:58

I've never actually seen, or smelt, anything quite like this.

0:04:010:04:05

And I can't believe that a living thing is actually here.

0:04:050:04:10

Although Helen's here to record the conditions, checking up on the state

0:04:100:04:14

of the cats themselves is proving difficult.

0:04:140:04:16

With no contact with the outside world,

0:04:160:04:19

they're scared and hide away in the shelter of this chaotic furniture.

0:04:190:04:22

I'm trying to see a cat.

0:04:220:04:25

I'm trying to scare one out.

0:04:250:04:27

They've probably not seen much daylight,

0:04:270:04:29

and they've probably been left alone for quite long periods of time,

0:04:290:04:32

so they are quite skitty, you know, they run away from you.

0:04:320:04:35

So we might not actually see the cats today but I have seen them.

0:04:350:04:39

They will be hiding. They were hiding yesterday.

0:04:400:04:43

We managed to scare them out so I could have a quick look at them.

0:04:430:04:47

As far as I could tell, they were quite lean.

0:04:470:04:49

As you can see, all the cat food tins are there so we can't tell when they were actually last fed.

0:04:490:04:56

It's hard to imagine animals living in this place, but it's also somebody's home.

0:04:560:05:02

He's shutting them in this environment 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

0:05:020:05:07

As I can see, they have absolutely no clean, fresh drinking water that they can just leisurely drink.

0:05:070:05:12

They are forced to go to the toilet on the carpet, you know, which is just disgusting.

0:05:120:05:18

After checking the cats over only yesterday, Helen knows they're not in any immediate danger.

0:05:200:05:25

She's committed to giving the owner one final chance to mend his ways.

0:05:250:05:29

Obviously, everybody would like to see me coming in now and just taking these cats out today.

0:05:290:05:33

But we're obviously bound by law, this is somebody's property,

0:05:330:05:37

the cats are actually somebody's property, you know,

0:05:370:05:39

cats and animals are classed as property,

0:05:390:05:41

so we can't just come in and take things, obviously, it's theft.

0:05:410:05:44

We have to be able to give this man a reasonable chance to sort the house out,

0:05:440:05:49

just to make it fair on him, really.

0:05:490:05:51

I mean, he might have a perfectly good excuse for living like this, you know.

0:05:510:05:56

It's very hard not to judge people in this job.

0:05:560:05:59

But whoever's responsible and whatever their reasons are for living like this,

0:06:000:06:05

they won't be given the benefit of the doubt for much longer.

0:06:050:06:09

I'll come back in a week and a half. If it still isn't clean, we'll get the cats out

0:06:090:06:14

and, hopefully, get them into a nice clean environment which they obviously deserve.

0:06:140:06:18

But will she find any cats and will things have improved when Helen returns?

0:06:180:06:23

Later...

0:06:290:06:31

battling the booze, the cats' keeper owns up to why his home is in such a mess.

0:06:310:06:38

I just can't cope any more. So I started drinking.

0:06:380:06:41

-I let things get out of hand, really.

-Yeah.

0:06:410:06:43

And using their loaf - the villagers tempt a group of swans towards their annual check-up.

0:06:430:06:49

They're greedy, as you can see. There's about a tonne, a metric tonne, of swan in there.

0:06:490:06:54

Now, greyhound racing has had a really bad reputation in recent years.

0:06:570:07:03

There have been numerous high-profile cases of neglect

0:07:030:07:07

and claims that hundreds of dogs are dumped every year as soon as their racing days are over.

0:07:070:07:13

So when I was out with the RSPCA and yet another report came in, naturally, I expected the worst.

0:07:130:07:20

Boulby, North Yorkshire, and there's been a serious allegation about a number of racing greyhounds.

0:07:250:07:31

I'm on patrol with RSPCA inspector Laura Hunt following up the complaint.

0:07:310:07:38

Hello.

0:07:380:07:40

A series of people have called in, claiming eight dogs are locked up in a shed.

0:07:400:07:45

My name's Laura. I'm with the RSPCA.

0:07:450:07:46

We've had a call about your greyhounds.

0:07:460:07:49

The initial call was about them being locked up 24/7, so is it all right

0:07:490:07:52

if we come and have a look at them? Is that all right?

0:07:520:07:55

It's also alleged the dogs are muzzled day and night.

0:07:550:07:58

The owner's at work but his daughters, Natalie and Vicky, are minding the pets.

0:07:580:08:03

How many have you got in total, then?

0:08:030:08:05

We've got seven down there. We've got one in the house

0:08:050:08:08

but we're looking after another one while someone's on holiday.

0:08:080:08:10

Blimey. Right. What's the story, then?

0:08:100:08:12

Are they pets or are they racers or ex-racers? You race them, do you?

0:08:120:08:16

Well, not all of them. We've got three that are retired.

0:08:160:08:19

-Right.

-One in the house. And then we've got two more... if you just want to go in.

0:08:190:08:23

-Is that all right?

-Yeah.

0:08:230:08:25

This is a serious allegation and Laura wants to investigate further.

0:08:250:08:29

Now, I mean, the initial call that we had was, as I said,

0:08:290:08:33

that you'd seven greyhounds that are locked up in a shed.

0:08:330:08:35

Oh, no, they're not in a shed. No.

0:08:350:08:37

Another call that we had through was that they're muzzled to stop them from barking.

0:08:370:08:41

Oh, yeah. We used to have...

0:08:410:08:43

-You know the one we're looking after at the minute, he used to bark a lot.

-Right.

0:08:430:08:47

So what about the muzzling, then? Do you muzzle them?

0:08:470:08:50

We muzzle them for a bit, so they know they've got to shut up, but we take it off.

0:08:500:08:54

-We haven't had any on today.

-Right. Right. Right.

0:08:540:08:56

-We don't muzzle them often.

-We've just got two new puppies.

0:08:560:08:58

-They was a bit yappy at first, just cos it's new surroundings.

-Yeah.

0:08:580:09:02

Despite the reassurances, Laura wants to see the kennels

0:09:020:09:06

where these working and retired hounds are being kept.

0:09:060:09:09

Hello, guys.

0:09:100:09:12

-That's great. You've got the water down and all the bedding, as well, in there.

-Yeah.

0:09:120:09:16

Which are the ones that are retired?

0:09:160:09:19

-These two here?

-Why did it retire?

0:09:190:09:21

It broke its leg in a race.

0:09:210:09:23

And my dad's too soft to have them put down so he won't do it.

0:09:230:09:29

We've had them since they were babies. They were our first dogs.

0:09:290:09:32

-Oh, they're beautiful dogs, I must say.

-Yeah.

0:09:320:09:34

As far as I can see, there's not a muzzle in sight.

0:09:340:09:37

Obviously, if I came along and saw like dogs that were

0:09:370:09:40

permanently muzzled, then obviously I'd be giving you advice. Yeah. Yeah.

0:09:400:09:44

My dad hates doing it but obviously you get nervous about complaints.

0:09:440:09:48

But it's only just done in the morning when they're getting wound up

0:09:480:09:51

-and it's taken off once they settle down?

-Yeah. Yeah.

0:09:510:09:53

Right. Right. No. That's fair enough.

0:09:530:09:55

Assured that muzzles are only used as a last resort to stop the dogs barking,

0:09:550:10:00

Laura goes on to check other aspects of their welfare.

0:10:000:10:03

Do they get much exercise at all?

0:10:030:10:05

Are you able to exercise, especially the retired ones?

0:10:050:10:08

Yeah. They get a walk in the morning and night, about a 40-minute walk.

0:10:080:10:13

-The lot of them, together?

-Yeah. My dad does two walks.

0:10:130:10:15

-Oh, right.

-My mum, as well.

0:10:150:10:17

And we've got a gallop. We own about a 500-metre gallop.

0:10:170:10:21

-Right.

-They go there once or twice a week for a gallop.

-Oh, right. Right. Excellent.

0:10:210:10:25

They've also got like a drag hair, but you don't put hair in it, obviously.

0:10:250:10:28

It's like a carrier bag of some fluff and we reel that in

0:10:280:10:32

-and they chase that as part of their training.

-Right.

0:10:320:10:34

Your dad's got a good setup here.

0:10:340:10:36

It's very, very clean and I mean, I can't see any poo or anything.

0:10:360:10:40

They've got fresh water down.

0:10:400:10:41

-They've got the company from each other, as well.

-Yeah.

0:10:410:10:45

I'm amazed at this setup and Vicky's dad has grand designs out in the garden.

0:10:450:10:50

This work in progress will become a deluxe dog gymnasium, complete with jacuzzi and treadmill.

0:10:500:10:57

The report was of greyhounds kept in a fairly small shed,

0:10:580:11:02

the muzzles on, barking problems.

0:11:020:11:04

We get here and it's almost the completely reverse.

0:11:040:11:06

Really, really, nicely-kept animals.

0:11:060:11:08

But not all greyhounds are quite so lucky.

0:11:080:11:12

Every year, the RSPCA rehomes 1,500 retired greyhounds that have been neglected and abandoned.

0:11:120:11:19

What does your dad plan to do with the retired ones, then?

0:11:200:11:24

Does he want to keep them as pets or would he want us to look at getting them rehomed?

0:11:240:11:29

Well, we've got three that we're definitely keeping.

0:11:290:11:31

We've had one rehomed recently, but when these all retire, he wants to rehome them.

0:11:310:11:35

-Right.

-He's in the Greyhound Trust Fund at Doncaster.

0:11:350:11:37

Oh, right. Yeah. Yeah. OK.

0:11:370:11:39

Satisfied the dogs are clean and have the run of the garden for hours

0:11:390:11:43

at a time, we take a closer look at the next generation of sprinters.

0:11:430:11:48

The big dog's Freddie.

0:11:480:11:50

And the small bitch is Scarlet.

0:11:500:11:53

So these are the newest two that we've got.

0:11:530:11:56

They're just going to be racing.

0:11:560:11:57

Think they're not even a year old, yet.

0:11:570:12:00

I always thought greyhounds would be highly strung and hard work, but this lot are really nice.

0:12:000:12:04

They're really laid-back animals. They really are.

0:12:040:12:06

Although if you go for a walk and you see a cat or something, then...

0:12:060:12:10

they're taking YOU for a walk!

0:12:100:12:13

After a quick examination, Freddie and Scarlet get the thumbs-up from Laura.

0:12:130:12:18

Sometimes, greyhounds are just seen as pound signs rather than actual dogs and pets,

0:12:180:12:22

but I can quite honestly say I can't see that in this scenario, at all.

0:12:220:12:26

They've got chews and toys around.

0:12:260:12:28

They've got a big, large area. They've got company from each other.

0:12:280:12:31

They've all got names.

0:12:310:12:33

They're obviously well-loved pets as well as a bit of a hobby.

0:12:330:12:35

They look in great shape, don't they?

0:12:350:12:37

Really, really well. Yeah.

0:12:370:12:39

They're lovely dogs.

0:12:390:12:41

It's been an unexpected but successful conclusion to our emergency call-out.

0:12:410:12:46

We can leave confident that the dogs are in safe hands.

0:12:460:12:49

Still to come - I spend a night at the dogs to witness just how seriously welfare is taken.

0:12:560:13:01

It's quite common for greyhounds to get wrist injuries. Just a gentle squeeze like that,

0:13:010:13:06

if they've got an injury, they'll squeak and let you know.

0:13:060:13:08

And wild at heart, will these cats let the RSPCA help?

0:13:080:13:13

-..grab him. They think your grab is more vicious than a dog.

-Oh, dear.

0:13:130:13:18

Although swans are probably one of Britain's best-loved birds, every year thousands are attacked,

0:13:210:13:28

poisoned or injured as a direct result of man.

0:13:280:13:32

But in Burton on Trent, the whole community are working together

0:13:320:13:36

to protect and care for a flock of mute swans that live on the river in their village.

0:13:360:13:41

A team of volunteers round up and check over 60 swans

0:13:410:13:45

in a practice called "swan upping" that dates back to the 12th century.

0:13:450:13:50

The River Trent, in Staffordshire, home to over 60 much-loved mute swans.

0:14:000:14:05

And an annual spectacle is about to take place.

0:14:050:14:08

It's the height of summer and the birds are moulting.

0:14:080:14:12

They're unable to fly so it's an ideal opportunity to round them up and give them their yearly MOT.

0:14:120:14:18

It's an event that the whole community, young and old, help out with.

0:14:180:14:23

Bert Coleman is in charge of the operation.

0:14:230:14:26

The data that we collect from today will go into our database.

0:14:260:14:30

This is the longest standing study of mute swans in the world and the database is quite enormous.

0:14:300:14:37

It's used by a number of ornithological societies for

0:14:370:14:41

their research and we're very pleased to be able to give them such data.

0:14:410:14:46

But how do you round up over 60 swans from a river?

0:14:460:14:50

This job calls for the local canoe club.

0:14:500:14:52

Stefan Bodnar is in charge of the flotilla.

0:14:520:14:56

Today we're going to try and bring the swans down the Trent,

0:14:560:14:59

down to this point, and then feed them into this channel.

0:14:590:15:03

We're hopeful we're going to have a nice straight line of canoes

0:15:030:15:06

that are going to push them ahead and we'll head them off at the Corral, so to speak.

0:15:060:15:12

With these things, you know, they're wild animals, so anything can happen.

0:15:120:15:16

While Bert waits for the swans to arrive, he knows that a tricky day lies ahead for the team.

0:15:190:15:25

While swans are very unpredictable creatures, and if they did

0:15:250:15:30

everything we wanted them to do, things would be very simple.

0:15:300:15:32

The birds are about a half a mile away, at the moment, maybe slightly less than that.

0:15:320:15:38

Onlookers wait patiently for the first sign of the majestic swans,

0:15:400:15:44

then finally, a floating white herd hoves into view.

0:15:440:15:49

At the moment, what we've got is about 60 or 70 swans down here.

0:15:490:15:53

And they're being pushed by a small group of people in canoes.

0:15:530:15:59

We're just going to get into position now, sort of head them off so they go into the catching pen.

0:15:590:16:04

So they should be here in a couple of minutes. We've just got to get in position.

0:16:040:16:09

The canoes herd the swans in the right direction, then volunteers,

0:16:160:16:22

armed with some trusty chunks of bread, tempt the birds toward the channel.

0:16:220:16:27

They're greedy, as you can see.

0:16:270:16:29

They're very hungry birds and this is part of what we're going to do, is entice them with bread.

0:16:290:16:37

The swans have taken the bait.

0:16:370:16:38

All 60 glide into the holding pen.

0:16:380:16:43

There's about a ton, a metric ton, of swan in there.

0:16:430:16:50

The next stage is to get them up onto dry land but that's not as easy as it sounds.

0:16:500:16:55

We've got to make sure they don't come through here so we've got extra people behind

0:16:550:17:00

and really to try and do it with as less stress as possible, really, is the main concern.

0:17:000:17:05

Are we ready?

0:17:050:17:06

They're thinking about it!

0:17:080:17:10

Once on the riverbank, the team gets to work.

0:17:220:17:25

It's mainly weighing that we'll be doing and we will then be checking whether

0:17:250:17:29

or not we caught this swan last year and if so, is it an improvement in

0:17:290:17:33

its condition, is it the same or has it improved, whatever.

0:17:330:17:38

As well as collecting data on the swans, each bird is

0:17:380:17:41

checked for injuries that can be caused by discarded fishing tackle.

0:17:410:17:45

There are about 40,000 mute swans in Britain and their numbers have risen steadily since one of the main

0:17:450:17:51

threats to their health, lead weights used by fishermen, were banned.

0:17:510:17:56

Fishermen are much more careful now than what they were.

0:17:560:17:59

And now the lead alternatives are out,

0:17:590:18:02

the incidents of lead poisoning has, in my opinion, dropped dramatically.

0:18:020:18:06

Unfortunately, of course, you're looking at decades of lead-shot weights on the bottom of rivers

0:18:060:18:14

and very hot summers when the water levels go down, then these birds can actually reach down and pick it up.

0:18:140:18:19

And so when you get an upsurge in lead poisoning, it's nothing to do with fishermen

0:18:190:18:24

using that lead again, it's the birds can go down and reach the lead which they couldn't reach before.

0:18:240:18:30

Thankfully, all these birds seem in perfectly good health..

0:18:300:18:34

We look at the feather stage. This one's quite interesting.

0:18:340:18:37

They're all at slightly different stages of moult.

0:18:370:18:39

This one's regrowing its feathers.

0:18:390:18:41

There's a little bit left in pin which is red, that's the blood.

0:18:410:18:45

So, at this stage, these feathers are still alive.

0:18:450:18:48

Once they're fully formed, the blood withdraws

0:18:480:18:51

so you have to be quite careful we don't break those at this stage.

0:18:510:18:54

And for those taking part in today's checks, they're helping to maintain an age-old tradition.

0:18:540:18:59

I think this is the fifth longest running study of any birds in the world.

0:18:590:19:05

So this was started in 1961 and it's been continuous every year since then, so what's that...

0:19:050:19:11

47 years! So it's a very, very long study and a lot of the information

0:19:110:19:15

about mute swan populations and dynamics and everything else in the UK comes from this study.

0:19:150:19:19

So it's a really important long-term study to continue doing. Lovely.

0:19:190:19:23

That one can go. Let's get some more.

0:19:230:19:26

Need more swans.

0:19:260:19:28

After each swan is checked, they're free to go.

0:19:280:19:31

Enthusiastic helpers of all ages play their part in making sure everything runs smoothly.

0:19:310:19:38

My job has mainly been to carry swans to Bert and he's releasing them.

0:19:380:19:44

And one by one, the swans are swiftly put back where they came from.

0:19:450:19:51

We want to try and get them on the water as quickly as we can.

0:19:510:19:54

As the operation reaches its swan song for another year, the team can look back on a job well done.

0:19:540:20:01

I'm quite delighted with the whole round-up. It's gone splendidly.

0:20:010:20:06

One of the best swan round-ups we've had at Burton-on-Trent for many a long year.

0:20:060:20:10

Still to come...

0:20:190:20:21

I meet one greyhound racer who gives his dogs the five-star treatment.

0:20:210:20:25

It assists in repairing injuries, takes bruising out.

0:20:250:20:30

-As well as being a very relaxing time, by the look of it.

-Yeah.

0:20:300:20:33

Now it's back to RSPCA inspector, Helen Smith and three cats living in a filthy flat.

0:20:370:20:44

The pets are locked in the house day and night

0:20:440:20:47

with no way of getting out and the conditions are appalling.

0:20:470:20:51

Helen desperately wants to get the cats away from the mess

0:20:510:20:54

but she's also keen to know why they've been left to live like this.

0:20:540:20:59

Helen Smith is back in Scarborough to see if anything has changed for the three cats living in squalor.

0:21:050:21:11

Just returned today, just to see if he's done what I've asked him to do.

0:21:110:21:15

Just have a look at the cats' condition and obviously give him some

0:21:150:21:18

more advice on how they can live in a clean environment.

0:21:180:21:23

If the flat's in the same mess, Helen plans to take the cats away,

0:21:230:21:27

-so she's brought colleague Leanne Honus as backup.

-Oh, he's here.

0:21:270:21:32

The cats' owner, Thomas, is there to meet them.

0:21:320:21:36

Have you taken the carpet up?

0:21:360:21:38

Yeah. Taken it up to scrub the floor.

0:21:380:21:40

Helen's impressed and can a definite attempt has been made to improve things.

0:21:400:21:46

-Can I come in and have a chat with you?

-Yeah, if you want to.

0:21:460:21:51

Well, it's a lot better than when I saw it last time.

0:21:510:21:53

So how come you've done this... because of my warning notice that I gave you, is it?

0:21:530:21:58

Well, it wasn't only that, was it.

0:21:580:21:59

I mean...

0:21:590:22:01

-the mess here...

-Yeah.

0:22:010:22:03

-is nobody's fault but my own.

-Yeah.

0:22:030:22:06

-OK.

-I went on the...

0:22:060:22:08

-Beer. Well, at least you're honest.

-I am...

0:22:080:22:11

But I'm not usually a drinker.

0:22:110:22:13

The mess I've been getting in and other things, I thought...

0:22:130:22:17

I just can't do it any more. I just started drinking.

0:22:170:22:19

-Right.

-I let things get out of hand, really.

-Yeah.

0:22:190:22:23

Thomas' drinking problem has meant his life has taken a turn for the worse and he's struggling to cope.

0:22:230:22:29

But despite the conditions he keeps them in, his cats are his companions and he doesn't want to lose them.

0:22:290:22:35

When I saw them last time, they were quite wild.

0:22:350:22:38

I can't even get this out until I get somewhere to move.

0:22:380:22:42

-Yeah.

-I've been offered a load of help.

-Yeah.

0:22:420:22:45

-Are they in here?

-They're in here, somewhere.

0:22:450:22:47

Although the hallway is cleaner, Thomas hasn't yet got round to clearing the rest of the flat.

0:22:470:22:53

Have you cleaned up all by yourself in the hallway, taken the carpet up and everything?

0:22:530:22:57

Yes. I've refused help from my mates and everything.

0:22:570:22:59

Why? Why don't you let them help you?

0:22:590:23:02

-No. Like I said, it's my mess, I've got to do it.

-Fair enough.

0:23:020:23:05

I've got to prove it to myself. Now where are they hiding?

0:23:050:23:08

Although Thomas is now trying to care for his pets, Helen still needs to check them over...

0:23:080:23:14

but because they've not been getting much attention, they're skittish and hide away.

0:23:140:23:18

-They're quite wild, aren't they.

-No.

0:23:180:23:21

-Are they not with you?

-No. Come on.

0:23:210:23:22

They must have been scared when I came, that's all.

0:23:220:23:25

The little one, she's a bit of a... what I call a lad.

0:23:250:23:29

-Yeah.

-You know, he takes no nonsense.

0:23:290:23:32

Yeah.

0:23:320:23:33

Will they come out for food, do you think?

0:23:330:23:35

Suddenly, Thomas spots the first of his cats, Tigger.

0:23:350:23:39

-Can you see him?

-Come here, Tigger.

0:23:390:23:42

But he won't be coaxed from his hiding place, so Helen and Leanne offer to help.

0:23:420:23:46

Thomas warns them his cats can be temperamental.

0:23:460:23:49

Maybe, in a cat basket, maybe.

0:23:490:23:52

You see the one with two white marks here. Don't grab him.

0:23:520:23:56

OK. All right. I'll get some gloves.

0:23:560:23:59

-Sometimes he's more vicious than a dog.

-Oh, dear.

0:23:590:24:02

Frightened cats can give a nasty bite.

0:24:020:24:05

-Leanne and Helen aren't taking any chances.

-I can't even see them.

0:24:050:24:08

-You can't?

-No.

0:24:080:24:10

It may be a small flat but this jumble of furniture makes it easy for these cats to disappear.

0:24:100:24:17

They've got to be somewhere.

0:24:170:24:18

It's a mystery where these cats have gone.

0:24:180:24:21

How bizarre. Not under here.

0:24:210:24:23

But then Leanne discovers their secret hiding place.

0:24:230:24:26

Hey, there's a great big hole in the back of this sofa.

0:24:260:24:29

-I think they can get inside.

-Right.

0:24:290:24:32

There's one.

0:24:320:24:34

Just under that unit.

0:24:340:24:35

Tigger's cover is blown again and he makes a bolt for it.

0:24:350:24:39

Helen seizes the opportunity and finally, the first cat is caught.

0:24:390:24:44

Yeah. Get the basket.

0:24:440:24:45

But the victory's short-lived and he's not yet in the bag.

0:24:450:24:49

Quick. Quick. Quick.

0:24:490:24:50

That's why you need gloves on.

0:24:530:24:56

Tigger heads for the bedroom where Leanne spots a window of opportunity.

0:24:560:25:00

-Wheezing.

-With nowhere to run and nowhere to hide...

0:25:020:25:06

-Right, Helen, have you got the basket?

-Yeah.

0:25:060:25:09

Tigger is brought to book.

0:25:090:25:10

-There you go.

-Brilliant.

0:25:100:25:13

Now Helen can give the cat a health check.

0:25:130:25:15

If he's not in good condition, Thomas could face losing Tigger and the rest of his pets, too.

0:25:150:25:21

Let's bring him into the light for you. Mind your fingers.

0:25:210:25:24

-Chuck it in the lounge.

-Right.

0:25:240:25:26

-He looks in reasonable condition.

-He looks all right.

0:25:260:25:29

His coat's in quite good condition.

0:25:290:25:31

He's not got any fur loss which is a good indication that he's not got a flea allergy.

0:25:310:25:35

He's obviously quite scared at the minute.

0:25:350:25:38

He's not really, really skinny.

0:25:380:25:40

His fur's all right. His coat's quite shiny which means he's obviously getting an all right diet.

0:25:400:25:44

If all the cats are as healthy as Tigger, Helen is happy for Thomas

0:25:440:25:49

to keep them as long as he continues to clear up the flat.

0:25:490:25:52

We'll just catch them all like this, all three of them,

0:25:520:25:55

and then what I'll do is, I'll nip them down to the vet...

0:25:550:25:58

just get them checked out, get them flead and then we can bring them back here.

0:25:580:26:02

But as Helen sets out her plans for Thomas to make a fresh start,

0:26:020:26:05

he begins to wonder if he can give his cats the care they need.

0:26:050:26:10

-I know I wanted to keep them...

-Yeah.

0:26:100:26:13

It's not only upsetting me, it's upsetting them worse.

0:26:130:26:17

Well, I can tell you now, they have got a place at an animal home.

0:26:170:26:20

I've already sorted that out because I didn't expect you to be in

0:26:200:26:23

and I expected the place to be in the state it was when I last came...

0:26:230:26:26

but that's something that you're going to have to think about and decide.

0:26:260:26:30

Let me go and get the forms, give you a minute to have a think.

0:26:300:26:33

-OK. And I'll go and get a couple of baskets. All right?

-Yeah.

0:26:330:26:38

I won't be a minute.

0:26:380:26:39

There are still two cats that Helen and Leanne need to find.

0:26:420:26:46

In the meantime, Thomas is left to reflect on what's best for his pets,

0:26:460:26:50

but can he bear to let his companions go.

0:26:500:26:54

Later...

0:26:570:26:58

a tough decision for Thomas, as Helen and Leanne round up his remaining flatmates.

0:26:580:27:04

Good boy. In.

0:27:040:27:07

That is one wild cat.

0:27:070:27:10

I'm back in the village of Boulby and last time, I was with the RSPCA following up reports

0:27:130:27:20

of greyhounds being mistreated, but when we arrived at this house, it was quite the reverse...

0:27:200:27:26

owners that were very caring and dogs that were not only contented

0:27:260:27:30

but extremely fit and now, it's race day.

0:27:300:27:34

It's certainly a dog's life here, home of eight racing thoroughbreds, living in immaculate conditions.

0:27:370:27:43

Today, I'm helping their owner Paul, whose five-year hobby has become his passion.

0:27:430:27:49

You must be Paul. I'm Tom. Very nice to meet you.

0:27:490:27:52

-The big day, a kind of a bit of pressure day for you.

-It is. It is.

0:27:520:27:56

It gets you a little bit dizzy at times, especially with having all the others to care for before you go.

0:27:560:28:01

Is there a lot about kind of how you handle them in

0:28:010:28:04

those last hours up to the race that kind of gets them in the right mood?

0:28:040:28:07

Yes. Yes. That's what the grooming comes in for. You tense them up.

0:28:070:28:12

Groom them to get them tense...

0:28:120:28:14

excited, that they know they're going to go somewhere and they're going to have to perform.

0:28:140:28:19

Right. know the grooming, something's coming up.

0:28:190:28:23

They're really, really excited. They know they're going somewhere.

0:28:230:28:27

Well, what can I help you with? Can I get my hands dirty with something?

0:28:270:28:30

You can certainly get them wet cos one of the things that we do is we give them a Jacuzzi bath.

0:28:300:28:35

Wow!

0:28:350:28:36

-It's fitness inducing and it relaxes them, as well.

-I've got to see this!

0:28:360:28:40

And first up for the five-star treatment is Mal. Hello.

0:28:400:28:44

You're absolutely gorgeous.

0:28:440:28:47

When I think about greyhounds, I always think they're racing and they're going to be

0:28:470:28:50

-rather kind of skittish, they're going to be rather nervous, but he's incredibly placid.

-They are.

0:28:500:28:56

They race flat out for 30 seconds and they'll sleep the rest...

0:28:560:29:00

If you let them.

0:29:000:29:02

But Mal won't be sleeping this morning.

0:29:020:29:04

He's about to practise his doggy paddle in Paul's purpose-built health spa.

0:29:040:29:10

Now, last time I came, this was just a shell. Look at it now.

0:29:100:29:13

A regular doggy fitness boutique you've got going here.

0:29:130:29:16

Yeah. Well, I've bought a few bits and bobs.

0:29:160:29:18

I thought I might as well put them somewhere nice.

0:29:180:29:22

You give them nice sash windows and everything.

0:29:220:29:25

Well, it does pay to be in the joinery game.

0:29:250:29:27

Inside, the Jacuzzi has been filled and after taking the necessary precautions,

0:29:270:29:32

Paul checks the temperature and Mal takes the plunge.

0:29:320:29:36

There we go.

0:29:380:29:41

-He likes this, does Mal.

-And he likes it even more when the bubbles start.

0:29:410:29:45

So what does this actually do to help the dogs win races, then?

0:29:470:29:52

It tones them. It exercises them.

0:29:520:29:56

And also, it assists in repairing injuries, bruising, takes bruising out.

0:29:560:30:03

As well as being a very relaxing tonic!

0:30:030:30:05

It relaxes them. Yeah. Relaxes them.

0:30:050:30:08

-There we go. Time's up.

-Yeah.

0:30:080:30:10

Turn it off.

0:30:100:30:12

This is where we get wet.

0:30:120:30:14

Bit heavier now, carrying a bit of water.

0:30:180:30:21

Soak over, we give him a quick rub down.

0:30:220:30:26

And as Mal's not competing today, it's back to bed to get his head down, again.

0:30:260:30:30

But racing later is Paul's champion sprinter, three year old Polly.

0:30:300:30:35

Baths are banned on race day but she's due some star treatment.

0:30:350:30:39

-She's so slender and elegant.

-She is, isn't she?

0:30:400:30:44

She's a little beauty.

0:30:440:30:46

The bubbles help to stimulate blood flow.

0:30:480:30:52

Get her blood coursing through her veins.

0:30:520:30:55

And the other side?

0:30:570:30:58

And the other side...

0:30:580:31:00

just a gentle massage...

0:31:000:31:02

and to pick the hairs up.

0:31:020:31:05

I'm impressed with the way Paul cares for his dogs,

0:31:050:31:08

but I'm now keen to find out whether they get the same level of attention at the race track.

0:31:080:31:13

Meadow Court Stadium, Doncaster, and Polly's ready for the off.

0:31:180:31:23

The welfare of racing greyhounds has been heavily criticised,

0:31:230:31:27

but at Doncaster, it seems to be taken very seriously.

0:31:270:31:31

Helen Smiley is the resident vet and is on hand to ensure that

0:31:310:31:34

every one of the 90 athletes are fit and healthy.

0:31:340:31:39

So what do you look for?

0:31:390:31:41

OK. So first time I'm looking at the whole dog for

0:31:410:31:44

general health and condition, so we can see she's got a lovely shiny coat, she's well muscled.

0:31:440:31:49

Then I'm going to start at the head so I'm first looking at her eye.

0:31:490:31:54

You can tell a lot about a dog's health from the eye.

0:31:540:31:56

We're looking for a nice bright, shiny eye.

0:31:560:31:59

Next, I'm going to look at the legs and the feet.

0:31:590:32:02

So, going to start with this near front leg.

0:32:020:32:06

I squeeze the wrist cos it's quite common for greyhounds to get wrist injuries.

0:32:060:32:11

And just a gentle squeeze like that, if they've got an injury, they'll squeak and let you know.

0:32:110:32:15

How's she looking overall?

0:32:150:32:18

-She's looking good.

-Yeah.

-I'm pleased.

0:32:180:32:20

Having passed with flying colours, next it's the weigh-in.

0:32:200:32:25

-22.1.

-Polly's in tiptop condition and can now have a rest before her big moment.

0:32:250:32:31

In the meantime, I join vet Helen for a track inspection.

0:32:310:32:36

So tell me why we've come out here.

0:32:400:32:42

We've come out to check the condition of the track to make sure that it's fit for the dogs to run on.

0:32:420:32:48

-Oh, right.

-It is a welfare issue.

0:32:480:32:51

-What can go wrong?

-Well, if the track's too soft,

0:32:510:32:54

the dogs find it difficult to run on...

0:32:540:32:56

and they can get pulled muscles.

0:32:560:32:59

Normally what I do is

0:32:590:33:01

at one or two points round the track, I test the depth of the sand and it goes in just over an inch.

0:33:010:33:08

-Is that good?

-It's just right. Yes.

0:33:080:33:11

After seeing the lengths Helen goes to to make sure it's safe for these dogs,

0:33:110:33:15

I'm curious to know what she thinks about the sport's bad reputation.

0:33:150:33:19

People outside who don't know about greyhound racing maybe

0:33:190:33:22

still have the opinion that's perhaps a bit out of date.

0:33:220:33:25

They're associated with a lot of punishment for the dogs,

0:33:250:33:28

a fairly unpleasant future for them when they've finished racing. Do you think that's not warranted any more?

0:33:280:33:33

I do think that's unjustified now.

0:33:330:33:36

Some people say that it's cruel but I think in a lot of cases,

0:33:360:33:40

racing greyhounds are better looked after than pet dogs.

0:33:400:33:43

They're kept in really superb condition.

0:33:430:33:46

I don't think it's hard on the dogs.

0:33:460:33:48

The dogs really enjoy the racing.

0:33:480:33:50

And with Helen's standards met, racing can begin.

0:33:510:33:55

It's almost time for Polly's big moment.

0:33:580:34:01

-Our call, is it?

-That's our call. Are you going to get that rabbit for me in a minute?

0:34:110:34:16

After Paul's five-star treatment, Polly's raring to go.

0:34:160:34:20

She'll sprint 480 metres, reaching speeds of almost 40 mph.

0:34:200:34:25

Well, there goes Polly into trap two.

0:34:250:34:27

I think she's the favourite for this race, so with a bit of luck, Paul...

0:34:270:34:30

Fingers crossed.

0:34:300:34:32

And they're off!

0:34:340:34:36

Come on, Polly!

0:34:390:34:41

Come on, Polly. Go on.

0:34:410:34:43

-Second?

-Yeah.

-Second.

0:34:510:34:54

But although first place may have eluded Polly, she smashed her own record and Paul's delighted.

0:34:540:35:01

She ran her time. She ran as fast as she could run.

0:35:010:35:04

The time was 30.20 and the fastest time was about 30.30, just lately.

0:35:040:35:09

-Right.

-She's running equivalent to that.

0:35:090:35:12

A personal best for her.

0:35:120:35:14

Just today, the opposition was that much better.

0:35:140:35:16

Just a little bit better. Yeah.

0:35:160:35:19

The RSPCA do still come across cases of abuse, but here at least, that's certainly not the case.

0:35:190:35:26

I think I've won greater respect for the sport of greyhound racing.

0:35:260:35:30

In my ignorance, I was a bit suspicious of the way they handled and treated their dogs but from

0:35:300:35:34

what I've seen here, and what I've seen at Paul's house, I've no doubt they're very well cared for.

0:35:340:35:40

Finally, we're back in Scarborough, to the filthy flat that's home to three cats.

0:35:450:35:51

Their owner admits he's struggling to care for his pets as he battles with a drink problem.

0:35:510:35:56

His animals are locked in his house day and night but he's

0:35:560:35:59

rarely at home and this has left his cats almost feral.

0:35:590:36:04

Helen's trying to round up the cats to get them checked by a vet.

0:36:040:36:08

She's also hoping Thomas will sign them over, but can he bear to let them go?

0:36:080:36:14

In Scarborough, Thomas is still trying to decide whether saying

0:36:180:36:21

goodbye to his companions is the kindest thing to do.

0:36:210:36:25

Inside his flat, Leanne and Helen are struggling to catch the two remaining cats, Sam and Felix.

0:36:250:36:31

Let me get round this end and then its natural instincts will be to run away from you.

0:36:310:36:35

They're refusing to budge out of their hiding place inside this old settee.

0:36:350:36:40

So some gentle persuasion is required.

0:36:400:36:42

-I hope I don't break the floor.

-You're going to break the legs!

0:36:450:36:50

Oh, one's come out there.

0:36:500:36:53

One of the cats makes a dash for it.

0:36:530:36:55

He's there behind you.

0:36:550:36:58

-Have you cornered him?

-And it's Sam, by far the wildest of the bunch,

0:36:580:37:02

-Slightly crazy.

-He escapes into the bedroom but his attempts to hide under the covers don't fool Leanne.

0:37:040:37:10

I've got him, Helen.

0:37:100:37:12

Right.

0:37:120:37:14

Good boy. Good boy.

0:37:170:37:18

Basket on the floor.

0:37:180:37:20

Good boy. In.

0:37:200:37:23

-Good lad.

-He's in.

-Yeah.

0:37:230:37:25

That is one wild cat.

0:37:280:37:29

With Sam finally restrained, Helen gets a chance to check him over.

0:37:290:37:34

He looks again in OK bodily condition.

0:37:340:37:38

He's acting the way I would expect a cat in this environment to act like, really.

0:37:380:37:42

I think I'd be more worried if he was not showing any signs of fight. He's feisty.

0:37:420:37:47

He's got a lot of energy and he's using his instincts.

0:37:470:37:50

He just wants to, basically, get away from us.

0:37:500:37:53

As does the third and final cat, Felix.

0:37:530:37:57

There we are.

0:37:570:37:59

Once shaken free from his hiding place, he's quickly cornered.

0:37:590:38:03

He looks all right, as well. All right, darling. All right.

0:38:030:38:06

CAT MEOWS I know, darling.

0:38:060:38:08

I've got him, Leanne. Do you want to come over with the basket?

0:38:080:38:12

-And after a bit of a fight, he, too, is in the basket.

-Good boy.

0:38:120:38:17

With all three cats caught, Helen and Leanne can now get them to the vet.

0:38:170:38:21

For Thomas, he's come to a heartbreaking decision about what's best for his pets.

0:38:210:38:27

I'd rather them gone now.

0:38:270:38:30

-If they can't be looked after, aye.

-What, all three of them?

0:38:300:38:34

All three of them. If it's going to better them all.

0:38:340:38:37

I wouldn't stop them.

0:38:370:38:39

Don't get me wrong, I'll miss them.

0:38:390:38:40

Of course you would. Yeah. They're your pets, aren't they, your companions.

0:38:400:38:44

I call them my bairns.

0:38:440:38:46

All right, chick.

0:38:460:38:49

I'm glad that he's been quite selfless, really and

0:38:510:38:54

said that they would be better off not being in this property any more.

0:38:540:38:58

I think he realises that he needs time to sort himself out and obviously, like I say, he's not

0:38:580:39:03

in very often and it's not fair on cats having sporadic feeding patterns, you know.

0:39:030:39:07

They're quite routine animals so it'll do them good getting in a clean environment where

0:39:070:39:12

they can use a litter tray, and then hopefully get re-homed.

0:39:120:39:17

Thomas knows that letting his pets go is the kindest thing to do.

0:39:170:39:20

But he's clearly going to miss his old flatmates.

0:39:200:39:26

Thank you and I'll just sign at the bottom, here.

0:39:260:39:29

And like I said, we'll take them to the animal home now.

0:39:290:39:32

All right.

0:39:320:39:34

You've done a really selfless thing, there,

0:39:340:39:36

by giving them a new life.

0:39:360:39:39

-Are you all right?

-Yeah. I'll be all right...

0:39:390:39:42

after another two dozen bottles.

0:39:420:39:44

With Thomas left all alone, Sam, Felix and Tigger are on their way to a new life.

0:39:440:39:49

They now need to spend time getting used to human contact, to give them a chance of finding a new family.

0:39:490:39:56

Helen takes them to the local vets' surgery where they'll get the care and attention they need.

0:40:000:40:07

They've calmed down a lot.

0:40:070:40:09

In the house, you saw they were running around everywhere.

0:40:090:40:12

They're not scratching at the cage or anything, so to see animals in that environment

0:40:120:40:17

that we saw them in this afternoon, to now seeing them with a comfy bed, they've got a litter tray,

0:40:170:40:22

they've got fresh water, food and they're all together. They've all made themselves quite comfy...

0:40:220:40:28

Those two at the back are used to living together

0:40:280:40:30

cos they're kind of protecting each other which is nice to see.

0:40:300:40:33

So, yeah, it's been a good result all round.

0:40:330:40:36

A few weeks later, and only two cats remain at the vets' surgery.

0:40:380:40:43

Felix and Tigger are making excellent progress, becoming more accustomed to human contact.

0:40:430:40:49

Michelle Moore has been in charge of their care and is delighted with their progress.

0:40:490:40:54

When they first came in, they used to be shooting about in the kennel and completely unhandleable.

0:40:570:41:02

And we had to sedate them just to examine them,

0:41:020:41:07

so you can imagine how stressful it was.

0:41:070:41:11

And they have really, really come on in leaps and bounds since they came in.

0:41:110:41:15

Happy in each other's company, it's important they're allowed to face the future as a pair.

0:41:150:41:20

We'd like them to go together, if that's possible.

0:41:200:41:23

I think if they get the right home then they'll end up being perfectly normal cats.

0:41:230:41:29

Hopefully, that's what we'll achieve and they'll be lucky enough to find

0:41:290:41:32

a home that will take them on and give them that love that they need,

0:41:320:41:36

cos you deserve it, don't you?

0:41:380:41:40

after such a horrible start.

0:41:400:41:42

Although Tigger and Felix are now happy around people, for the third cat Sam, it's a different story.

0:41:440:41:51

Unfortunately, his wild ways couldn't be tamed

0:41:510:41:54

so there was no way he could ever be re-homed as a family pet...

0:41:540:41:57

but all was not lost.

0:41:570:42:00

He's now in his element with plenty of places to hide.

0:42:000:42:04

Sam's enjoying life as a resident rat catcher on a Yorkshire farm.

0:42:040:42:08

If you think you know of a case of wildlife crime, or a creature that needs immediate protection,

0:42:130:42:19

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

0:42:190:42:25

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

0:42:250:42:29

Next time, the dog shut in a cage for being too lively.

0:42:320:42:36

There's very few people who realise the amount of time you have to put in with a springer spaniel.

0:42:360:42:42

A search for the truth with this pet owner.

0:42:420:42:45

Can you please, just be honest with me?

0:42:450:42:47

-Has the dog received flea treatment?

-He has.

0:42:470:42:50

-Has the dog been to the vet?

-Yes.

0:42:500:42:52

And I have to watch my step while searching for some of Britain's rarest chicks.

0:42:520:42:57

You can see how amazingly camouflaged they are with the sand.

0:42:570:43:01

So terrifying!

0:43:010:43:02

Subtitles by Red Bee Media

0:43:080:43:11

E-mail [email protected]

0:43:110:43:15

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

Presenter Tom Heap joins the investigation into claims that racing greyhounds are being abused. The RSPCA tries to persuade one pet owner to sign over his beloved cats, and a canoe club helps rustle up 60 swans for their annual MOT.


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS