Episode 18 Animal 24:7


Episode 18

The RSPCA rescue two flea-infested Alsatians whose owner ignores advice to get them treated and Tom Heap bottle-feeds a real life Bambi.


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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 are victims of cruelty, persecution and neglect.

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Fighting to save them is a dedicated band of people trying to protect and care for them

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right around the clock. 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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but when they come up against man, their lives are often in danger.

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From our cramped inner cities, from our fields and hedgerows, from moorland to coast and beyond,

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Animal 24:7 is with the people working around the clock to save endangered wildlife

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and protect vulnerable pets. These are their stories.

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-Today on Animal 24:7...

-Oh, she's got a really nasty ear there.

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Tara and Tiny - two Alsatians on the edge of being taken away.

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You'll lose them and end up in court.

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-An injured swan with a protective mate.

-All right.

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Just watch him, watch him. Easy, fella. Easy.

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'And Bambi's on the bottle.'

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Cor! Down in one. I don't know who he learned that from.

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-Just like that.

-Is it real ale, though?

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Pets can provide valuable companionship, especially for owners who live alone with their animals.

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So when the RSPCA have to step in for the sake of the animal, it can be heartbreaking.

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German Shepherd Tara and her six-year-old son Tiny live in a flea-infested flat.

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Tiny's hair is falling out because he's being bitten by fleas, which he's allergic to.

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Tara has a serious ear infection. Both dogs are downbeat and lethargic.

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RSPCA inspector Vicky McDonald has spoken to their owner about their health before.

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She's back to see if it has changed.

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Tara! Tiny!

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-Right, he's still got this problem, hasn't he?

-The hair he's lost there.

-Underneath as well.

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-It's instantly clear nothing has.

-You've got more than one problem

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-because you've got fleas on the dogs.

-Right.

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Dogs with an allergic reaction to fleas. And also because there are fleas on the dogs,

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fleas are jumping off the dogs, laying eggs in your carpets...

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-If one flea gets on that dog and has a nibble, it'll set it all off.

-That's what it starts from?

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Yeah. So what you'll need to do is get back on top of it again on the dogs and in the house.

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-Then, every couple of months do it with stuff from the vets.

-Tiny's skin is sore and infected.

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-Tara's poorly ear is even worse.

-Oh, she's got a really nasty ear there. That really is chronic.

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-We need to get to the vet tomorrow.

-I clean it out each morning, but it's just getting worse.

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Steve seems to be taking on board all of Vicky's advice about getting Tiny and Tara treated,

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-but it's vital he cleans their home, too.

-You need to treat the entire house for that.

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If Housing can help you get somebody round to do that,

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that'll probably be the best bet.

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I'll try to catch up with you tomorrow and see how you got on. Or with the vet.

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Tara and Tiny are clearly uncomfortable and need a vet.

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Steve has had them since they were puppies and thinks a lot of them,

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but he's been unable to afford to get them treated. Vicky decides to help him help his pets.

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I'll leave it with you. Thanks for your time.

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She'll be back in 24 hours to make sure these two dogs have had the treatment they need.

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He's had the help and he's had the advice. He needs to get his animals to a vet.

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If he doesn't, he could face prosecution.

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Over the next few weeks, Vicky checks up on Tara and Tiny several times.

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-Steve? Can you answer the door?

-Although the vets report that they have been in for treatment,

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they've missed crucial follow-up visits. There's never anyone at home.

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-Steve, are you home?

-Every time it's the same story.

-I can't see anything.

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Finally, though, Vicky's persistence pays off.

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-DOG WHIMPERS

-Hello!

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After two months of phone calls and visits, the owner's home,

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but it's not good news - Tara still has an ear infection

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and Tiny has been reinfested with fleas and is now losing weight.

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You really, really should have been back to the vet. You cannot leave these things untreated.

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You're falling into the realms now of causing your dogs to suffer by not getting them the treatment.

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You know they need it. You haven't made any attempts to get me here for help,

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to get back to the vet's. I understand you've got bills, but we all have bills to pay

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-and to get our pets to the vet when they need it.

-For the RSPCA, taking older dogs like Tara and Tiny

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away from their home is a last resort. It would be a wrench for both owner and pet.

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I'm going to give you a final chance, but this is going to be under caution today.

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I'll issue you with a warning notice to get them treated and to get the follow-on treatment they need.

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-If you don't...

-I'm going to lose me dogs.

-And end up in court.

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-So this is your last chance. Do you understand?

-Yeah.

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-I shall see you later.

-Right.

-See you.

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Four weeks later and Vicky's back to see Tara and Tiny.

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While she's been on holiday, her colleagues have checked on the dogs and told her things are no better.

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She can't get in touch with Steve, but she knows he hasn't been taking the dogs back to the vet.

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It's all well and good doing the first visit, but if you don't do the follow-ups, you're wasting it.

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The vet isn't telling you to go back other than because it's necessary.

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Yet again, no one's home.

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I'll have a look round the side.

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I'm trying to either attract the attention of him or one of the dogs.

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But the dogs are quite old and one's got an ear condition, so they probably won't hear me.

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Vicky is now extremely concerned about the welfare of these dogs.

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She calls the police to help get them out of their flea-ridden home.

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HE WHISTLES

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But, to Vicky's disappointment, the dogs aren't there.

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There's plenty of dog bowls around. It still smells of them. I think he got wind of me.

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He knows that his chances are up.

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This job is getting more and more frustrating.

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It's already dragged on for 16 weeks and Tara and Tiny are still no closer to the treatment they need.

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Still to come: Tara and Tiny's owner runs out of chances.

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Things just aren't getting better and it feels like I constantly have to chase you.

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I can't do that to them.

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And the bizarre invention to keep a pigeon with two broken legs off his feet.

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-It's the perfect couch potato's arrangement!

-That's exactly it.

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Like us humans, animals can often form close family bonds, few more so than swans.

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Swans mate for life, stay together all year round and both look after the young.

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So when one gets hurt or injured, the whole family can suffer.

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It's an idyllic scene.

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A mother and father swan and their three cygnets,

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quietly enjoying the tranquillity of the East Yorkshire countryside.

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But all is not well.

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The mother swan is seriously injured.

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RSPCA Animal Collection Officer Leanne Honess has been called to check it over.

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One swan we think was either shot or attacked by a dog.

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It's reported to be covered in blood. We need to pull it off the river to investigate.

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These swans are living on a remote part of the river. Two workmen repairing the bridge spotted them.

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Yeah, I see. We just need to get him before he goes down there.

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-Do these get fed by members of the public regularly?

-Quite possibly. Here they're coming now for bread.

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-Exactly. Come on.

-The area is popular with dog walkers. Leanne's worried

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-an attack by a pet could have damaged the swan's wing.

-If we get him to the bank,

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-we can get them out.

-Swans are the largest of all water birds and can be dangerous to approach,

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especially when injured or guarding their young. Leanne attempts to coax the injured bird to the shore.

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I just don't want to go in there with my boots on and scare her over there too much,

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-but she's not coming out otherwise.

-She has to opt for wet feet and eases her way into the stream.

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Good girl!

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Good girl.

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She's been attacked. She's really scared. It's just a bit of patience.

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If you keep throwing the bread in, it'll bring her over here.

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-When I whack my hook round her, we can pull her out.

-Come on, girl.

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Leanne needs to be careful. Swans are graceful creatures, but they can be aggressive.

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-The mother's injured and her mate will try to protect her.

-She's just so wary.

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-We've got to do this at some speed or as soon as I grab her...

-Will he attack you?

-Absolutely.

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-I thought he would do. He's protecting her now.

-As soon as I grab her, he'll go.

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Leanne's struggling to get close. With water coming over the tops of her boots,

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one of the workmen offers to help.

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-If I just put the hook round the swan's neck...

-Shove it round her neck and pull. But watch him.

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-Repairing bridges is one thing, catching swans quite another.

-A first time for everything.

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The family are a close-knit group. Will they be able to separate the injured bird?

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I'll see if I can do anything from that side.

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Leanne's new recruit succeeds in splitting off the mother and has a chance to catch her,

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-but the male isn't happy.

-You're a star. Just watch him!

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Easy, fella. Easy.

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-As the father threatens to attack, the injured swan is finally taken away.

-There, there, big boy.

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Stay there.

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-Now the injury can be assessed.

-Just watch her wings, honey.

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Do you want to hold her head while I look and see?

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Good girl. Come here. ..It seems to be a bite.

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We'll take her to the vet's. Might be advisable to clean her up and give an antibiotic injection

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so we can bring her straight back and there's no disruption to the mate.

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Leanne's hoping the treatment will be brief so she can bring the swan back as soon as possible.

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As soon as she's back with her family, the less stress there is on the cygnets and the male as well.

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Hopefully, that's what will happen. We'll see.

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Swans take equal responsibility for their cygnets' care and the burden will now fall on the father,

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but the trip to the vet is vital if the mother is to have any chance of rejoining her family.

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-Hello!

-Hi, Leanne.

-Any injury to a bird's wing is a worry

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and the bite could be infected. Vet Carol Paterson assesses what's wrong.

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It certainly doesn't look like there's a horrendous wound.

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-They're so white.

-While the size of the blood stain hinted at a serious injury,

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-the true cause comes as a surprise.

-It's not as bad as we thought.

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It's just damaged one of her flight feathers. She can manage without one.

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-So we can get rid of that?

-They do bleed like stink.

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We'll just get that tidied up, pulled out and cauterised.

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Carol decides to remove the broken feather.

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The swan's maintained her serenity.

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Whoa, whoa, big girl.

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Although they are trying to help, the swan becomes more anxious.

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OK, OK...

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-If you steady her body.

-Extra help is needed.

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You ARE being brave.

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-With the swan calm again, Carol can get back to work.

-Will it be painful?

-No, not at this point.

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-There we are.

-The broken feather is gently removed.

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-That's you.

-Fabulous.

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After a spray with antibiotics, she's zipped into the carrying bag to be taken back to her family.

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-But then Leanne finds another cause for concern.

-I found a lump. Could that be a possible float

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-or something?

-Oh.

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-There's a swelling on the swan's neck.

-It moves.

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But how far does it move? That's not good news.

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Leanne was hoping to have this mother back with her cygnets today. This is a major setback.

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-There's not much point...

-Releasing her?

-No.

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Unfortunately, in a swan the most likely thing is picking up some fishing tackle.

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You do get a lot of swans that swallow fishing tackle.

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People do leave it around and it's easy for them to pick up.

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Removing an object this far down the swan's throat

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is a risky operation. She needs specialist help.

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Sometimes they do pull through it. Sometimes due to stress, they don't.

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But hopefully it will be able to be removed and it won't cause her too much hassle or stress.

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Right. I'll leave her in your care.

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-OK. Thanks, Carol.

-You're welcome. Good luck.

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It's an unexpected blow. The nearest help is 30 miles away

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and the operation to remove fishing floats will take some time.

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As the father glides on alone, any hopes of a quick family reunion have now disappeared.

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Later: mother swan is prepared to go under the knife.

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The next job is to pluck our swan.

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A good method for making one sneeze.

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And Tara and Tiny have to be taken from their owner.

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It's just really upsetting. It's not fair on them, at the end of the day.

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Here on Animal 24:7, we've spent a lot of time at Tiggywinkles in Aylesbury with founder Les Stocker.

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I'm always impressed at the level of dedication Les and his team show to the patients that are brought in.

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Whatever the animal, and whatever its problem, they never fail to give them total commitment.

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'This is Arthur, an orphaned red deer.

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'He was found alone, wandering in a park, looking for his mum.

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'Here at Tiggywinkles, the real-life Bambi has now become a bit of a hit with Les Stocker and his staff.'

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-Wow.

-Wants its food.

-I've never seen red deer with you here before.

-It's the first one we've ever had.

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It was quite stunning when it came in. It was so much bigger than a normal calf, a normal deer.

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And it's just taken over the life of the nurses. They all love it.

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I don't think he ever saw his mother. I think he just popped out and something happened.

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The minute he was in here, he was up to us, interacting with us, pushing and wanting feeding.

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'Without any maternal bond, Arthur's been forced to rely on humans for help.'

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-Vicky, you're his mother.

-One of his mothers. A few of us feed him, Sharon and Francesca.

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Sharon's more his mum than I am, but whoever's got the bottle.

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-So do we feed him in here?

-No, we'll take him out to Les's garden. It's a nice environment for him.

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-Have some lunch.

-OK.

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'As we make our way to greener pastures, Arthur makes a tentative move out of his stables.

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'Without any parental role models to guide him, he falls into step behind me!'

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-You coming as well, Goose?

-'It's easy to see why all of the staff have fallen in love with him.'

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It's extraordinary to be able to stroke him and touch him. He's very tame. Will that be a problem?

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It is. Normally, small deer come in and they're very trusting, but we can get them wild.

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We let them grow up - fallow deer, roe deer, muntjac.

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He's just going to be too dangerous when he gets up here,

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so we've got to find him a home. We've got a couple lined up.

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Somebody with a private deer park to keep an eye on him

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or a place that does animals for television and films. So he might go there and get on the telly.

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'To help him become a big stag, Arthur is given lots of bottles.

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'He's averaging around four a day and I'm privileged to have a go.'

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Amazing. You can really feel him tugging away at the milk. He really wants it.

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Very powerful jaws.

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There he goes.

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Cor! Down in one, Les! I don't know who he learnt that from(!)

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Is it real ale, though?

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That must have taken about 20 seconds, I think.

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What else, apart from food, does he need for rehabilitation and growth?

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Just exercise, really. Build him up, his strength.

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And then find him a home.

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'As Arthur frolics outside, it's been a rare pleasure to see such a beautiful animal close up.

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'And being the first red deer to ever be brought to Tiggywinkles, he gets lots of attention.

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'But Les and his staff never discriminate. Even the most common creatures here get the same care.'

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-Hello, Abby.

-Hiya.

-That looks like quite an injury.

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Yeah, this little guy came in. He's broken both legs in different places. He broke his femur.

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You can see here. And he's broken his metatarsals on both legs.

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-So we've put Hexalite on.

-Hexalite?

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Yeah, it starts off quite malleable, so you can wrap it round the leg. And it stiffens up

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-and just holds them in place so the bones fix.

-Like a plaster for a human on a broken arm.

-Yes.

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-And how did he do this?

-We think he might have crash landed.

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He's only a youngster, so he was maybe having problems with flight, crash landed and broke his legs.

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-That happens to pigeons.

-Unfortunately, yeah. Especially young ones.

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'Putting such effort into caring for a familiar bird with two broken legs may seem extraordinary,

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'but not to Les and his team. They've invented a unique device to give this pigeon a second chance.'

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Now he's got the casts on, so that's holding the fractures in place, but he still can't stand,

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so what Les has designed is a cradle.

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He sits in the little harness in this, Les's contraption.

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He sits in there and he doesn't have to weight-bear on his legs and injure himself.

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-Wow. It seems like incredible innovation!

-Yeah!

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-The bird will sit in this?

-Yep.

-And hang under the cradle here?

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So there's no pressure on the legs.

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Like the perfect couch potato's arrangement - sit there, or lie there, and drink and eat

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-without having to move!

-Exactly. No effort.

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'Time to get him back into his harness, but which part of our pigeon pokes out where?'

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Just put one leg through there. And one leg through the other one.

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-Squeeze that one through.

-Lovely.

-'That's his feet into position. Now where does his head go?'

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His head comes out that bit. That's great.

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-The back bits hook on there.

-Right.

-And one under.

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-Over like that?

-Yep.

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-That's it.

-'Safely in his cradle, this pigeon is now within pecking distance of everything he needs.'

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-How long will he be in this cradle?

-Until his legs fix. The Hexalite can be on for a couple of weeks.

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Obviously, we'll keep checking him. Once we remove that, we'll see how stable the fracture is.

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-If he can walk on those legs, he won't need the cradle.

-How long before he's flying somewhat better?

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-Hopefully it won't be too long! A couple of weeks.

-That's amazing. Incredible ingenuity.

-It is.

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'From a bird in a brace to bottle-feeding an adorable red deer.

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'I'm always amazed at the effort staff make here to give every single animal a second chance,

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'however bizarre it might be.'

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Coming up: a worrying discovery for the swan with the lump.

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We have a fishing hook, which is in the soft tissues.

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Very unpleasant

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Now back to the story of Tara and Tiny, two German Shepherds whose owner has repeatedly ignored

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RSPCA advice about their treatment.

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Tara has a nasty ear infection and her son, Tiny, is allergic to being bitten by fleas.

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On her last visit, RSPCA inspector Vicky McDonald failed to see the dogs, but she's tracked them down.

0:24:060:24:13

'In the last three months, over ten visits have been made by the RSPCA to Steve and his Alsatians.

0:24:180:24:25

'There's been little progress. Today is the day of reckoning.'

0:24:250:24:29

I've spoken to him since my last visit. He's agreed to meet me today.

0:24:290:24:36

I'm just going to give him a call.

0:24:360:24:38

Hiya. It's the RSPCA.

0:24:390:24:41

Yeah, I'm here now. Yeah.

0:24:410:24:44

Okey doke. Thank you.

0:24:440:24:46

Bye.

0:24:460:24:48

'After a few minutes, Steve arrives with Tara, the mum, in tow.'

0:24:480:24:52

-Just the one you've got with you?

-No, he's...

0:24:520:24:57

-He's a bit slower than her.

-Come on, you.

0:24:570:25:00

'Tiny is very lethargic. Incredibly, he's the younger of the two.'

0:25:000:25:05

In your own time. The door's shut.

0:25:050:25:07

'Steve has taken the dogs to the vet this morning, but for Vicky it's too little, too late.'

0:25:070:25:13

This morning? Is that the first time you've been back to the vet's?

0:25:130:25:18

-No, I went back a fortnight ago.

-We checked. They said you hadn't been back.

-No, I've been in.

0:25:180:25:24

You got that warning notice and I said the stipulation on that warning notice

0:25:240:25:30

was to do your return visits to the vet's.

0:25:300:25:34

And your appointment this morning is the first time you've had them back for treatment since then.

0:25:340:25:41

Yeah.

0:25:410:25:43

'Tara's ear is still badly infected and causing a lot of discomfort.

0:25:430:25:48

'Tiny seems to have lost more weight and appears downbeat.'

0:25:480:25:52

I'm going to have to go and get some advice on this, Steve.

0:25:520:25:57

Things just aren't getting better and it feels like I'm constantly having to chase you.

0:25:580:26:04

And I can't do that to them.

0:26:040:26:06

-OK? I'm going to go and make a phone call.

-I know.

-All right.

0:26:080:26:13

'This is a difficult job. Vicky calls head office for a second opinion.'

0:26:140:26:21

He's certainly not meeting the needs of them because he is not following the advice the vet has given him.

0:26:210:26:27

Good. Right. That's all I need to know.

0:26:270:26:31

OK, thank you very much. Yes, thank you.

0:26:310:26:35

Bye.

0:26:350:26:37

The dogs are coming with me.

0:26:380:26:41

'This situation has dragged on for more than four months. Now Steve has run out of time.'

0:26:410:26:47

Right, Steve, I'm going to caution you again now. OK?

0:26:470:26:52

You do not have to say anything...

0:26:520:26:55

'Despite his failings, Steve does love Tara and Tiny.

0:26:550:26:59

'This is the first time he's been separated from his dogs in 7 years.

0:26:590:27:03

'It's going to be a wrench for both him and his pets, but this can't continue.'

0:27:030:27:09

-Right. I'll be in touch, Steve. OK?

-Yeah.

0:27:120:27:16

'Steve goes back to an empty flat.

0:27:190:27:21

'His dogs are now going to the vet's but they are clearly distressed to be leaving their home.'

0:27:210:27:28

DOGS WHIMPER

0:27:280:27:30

'For Vicky, it all becomes too much.'

0:27:300:27:33

Because he hasn't done what they needed,

0:27:330:27:37

I've now had to uproot them

0:27:370:27:40

and take them to a strange place.

0:27:410:27:43

And the chances are they'll have to remain in our care for some time.

0:27:430:27:48

And it's... it's just really upsetting.

0:27:480:27:53

It's not fair on them, at the end of the day.

0:27:540:27:59

'Vicky's now keen to see the vet to reassure herself that taking Tara and Tiny away from their owner

0:28:000:28:07

'was the right thing to do.'

0:28:070:28:10

Still to come: under the spotlight, the consequences of months of neglect.

0:28:140:28:20

-Is that going to be seriously painful? Absolutely.

-That's nasty.

0:28:200:28:24

Earlier in the programme, we saw the RSPCA's Leanne Honess rescuing a mother swan

0:28:290:28:36

with what she thought was an injured wing. She hoped to treat her quickly and have her returned to her family,

0:28:360:28:43

but all hopes of a quick reunion were dashed when Leanne found a lump in her neck.

0:28:430:28:50

'It's the second trip to the vet in as many days for this unlucky mother swan.

0:28:520:28:57

'Vet Andy Forsyth needs to find out if the lump Leanne discovered is blocking her throat.'

0:28:590:29:06

-We've definitely got a swelling down there.

-Anything we can do?

0:29:060:29:11

-I think probably the first thing to do is anaesthetise this swan and then have a look further.

-OK.

0:29:110:29:17

-Maybe pop a wee endoscope down.

-Fabulous.

0:29:170:29:21

And we'll put a wee towel over this one's head to make it less stressed.

0:29:210:29:26

'Suffering from a slight loss of dignity and a mystery swelling,

0:29:260:29:31

-'the swan is anaesthetised so Andy can put a camera down her throat.'

-The endoscope.

0:29:310:29:38

And we're travelling down the oesophagus. The top part over the back of the tongue is fine.

0:29:390:29:47

There's no obvious wire trapped in there as there sometimes is,

0:29:470:29:51

where we get wires or fishing lines that have been discarded, hooked around the base of the tongue.

0:29:510:29:57

And so far... we haven't found anything at all.

0:29:590:30:03

Well, what we can say from that is that our foreign body, this lump we're talking about,

0:30:030:30:09

is not, in fact, in the oesophagus. It's in the tissues off to the side.

0:30:090:30:15

'Andy's worried it is something that has worked its way through the feathers and into its skin

0:30:150:30:20

'near the spine. The X-ray confirms his suspicions.'

0:30:200:30:25

We have a fishing hook, which is in the soft tissues above the windpipe

0:30:250:30:32

and not in the oesophagus. So it will have gone in through the side of the neck.

0:30:320:30:38

And then the wound's closed over. This will have been in there for a wee while.

0:30:380:30:44

We'll clip up just over that and take the thing out.

0:30:440:30:47

'Removing the hook will require delicate surgery. First, the area around it needs to be prepared.'

0:30:470:30:54

Now our next job is to pluck our swan.

0:30:540:30:58

Which is always a good method for making one sneeze.

0:31:010:31:07

'The swan's been under for two hours.

0:31:090:31:14

'Speed is of the essence. And as Andy begins the operation

0:31:140:31:19

'he realises the hook has worked into an area thick with nerves and blood vessels.'

0:31:190:31:24

It's a very vascular area that we're dealing with here. We need to do a minimal amount of damage.

0:31:240:31:31

Of course, with wildlife, the whole aim of the process is to get them back

0:31:330:31:39

fit to compete with their peers as soon as possible.

0:31:390:31:43

Your other consideration is whether there are any dependent youngsters. We know this rather lovely swan

0:31:430:31:50

has got three cygnets. So I'm sure when she recovers she'll be very happy to be back with them.

0:31:500:31:57

There we go. That's the object of our desire. Good.

0:31:580:32:02

-So that's that done.

-'The operation has been a success.

0:32:020:32:07

'After the swan is stitched up, Andy takes a closer look at what caused the trouble.'

0:32:070:32:12

Ah. There - one hook.

0:32:120:32:14

-Very unpleasant.

-Something we see far too often.

0:32:160:32:20

Och, yeah, a very common occurrence.

0:32:200:32:23

'Gradually, the swan begins to come round from the anaesthetic.'

0:32:230:32:27

Whoa! We have a lively swan.

0:32:270:32:31

'Her wing mended and minus a rusty hook, she should be in good shape,

0:32:310:32:36

'but what she really needs is to be back with her family. After a night of rehabilitation,

0:32:360:32:42

-'mother swan will be returned to her babies.'

-It's all right, Sausage. Stressful process.

0:32:420:32:48

'The next morning, the swan's had a good night's rest and appears to be in fine fettle.'

0:32:550:33:02

I don't want to see you again.

0:33:020:33:04

I think she'll be all right.

0:33:040:33:07

'She appears strong enough to look after herself and Leanne escorts her back to the riverbank.

0:33:070:33:13

'Last time the swan was here, she was swimming with her young family.'

0:33:130:33:19

-Good girl.

-'Today her mate and three cygnets are nowhere to be seen.

0:33:190:33:24

'Now she's in a hurry to find them.'

0:33:240:33:27

Good girl. You calling your friends?

0:33:270:33:29

'Her family will be looking for her and Leanne is confident she will soon find them.'

0:33:290:33:35

She's taken to the water quite well.

0:33:380:33:40

The operation she's had hasn't caused her any concern.

0:33:400:33:44

The calling she's actually doing is to get her cygnets and mate back.

0:33:440:33:49

It might take a few hours, it might even take a day or so.

0:33:490:33:54

The river is quite long and she'll have to trek up and down until she finds them,

0:33:540:34:00

but they do mate for life and they will be waiting for her.

0:34:000:34:04

When they hear her call, they'll be a family unit again.

0:34:040:34:08

'After a few moments, she heads up river after her brood.'

0:34:080:34:12

Finally, let's catch up with Tara and Tiny, the two dogs whose owner ignored his vet's advice

0:34:180:34:24

by not returning for follow-up treatment. RSPCA inspector Vicky McDonald has given several warnings

0:34:240:34:31

over a number of weeks. Now, as a last resort, she's taken Tara and her son, Tiny,

0:34:310:34:37

for much-needed medical help.

0:34:370:34:40

Carefully does it. There we go.

0:34:430:34:46

'This is Tara and Tiny's first visit to vet Gus McKenzie.

0:34:460:34:51

'Vicky's big concern about Tiny is his skin allergy, but the fact that he's so lethargic means

0:34:510:34:57

'he might have an even more serious underlying problem.'

0:34:570:35:01

-What have you got for me today?

-Two dogs, two German Shepherd types.

0:35:010:35:06

Both from the same household. It's mum and son. This is son.

0:35:060:35:11

This one has a skin condition and fur loss.

0:35:110:35:14

-You can smell the skin. You can smell it from here.

-Yeah.

0:35:140:35:19

'Tiny has no records here, so Vicky has to rely on what his owner has told her.'

0:35:190:35:25

He's meant to be six years old.

0:35:250:35:28

From his teeth, it looks to me as if he's significantly older than that.

0:35:280:35:33

Let's have a look down your ears.

0:35:330:35:36

-Good boy. All right.

-There is an infection. I haven't seen any mites.

0:35:380:35:43

-There is?

-There is an infection.

0:35:430:35:45

-Probably more irritating than severe.

-'Vicky thought it was only Tara with the ear infection.

0:35:450:35:53

'Next, Gus turns his attention to Tiny's skin allergy.'

0:35:530:35:57

There's two very obvious things. First of all, the smell.

0:35:570:36:02

As soon as this dog walked in, you could smell his skin.

0:36:020:36:07

It's a typical smell of what we call a seborrhoeic dermatitis,

0:36:070:36:12

which is dermatitis which is often affected with bacterial infections and yeasts and fungi.

0:36:120:36:19

But also the actual position of it and the loss of hair and the presentation of it is classic

0:36:220:36:29

of allergy to flea bites.

0:36:290:36:31

'Tiny's fleas and resulting skin allergy can be easily treated.'

0:36:310:36:36

22.2.

0:36:360:36:39

'But one problem is more worrying.'

0:36:390:36:41

I'm concerned about the dog's weight. He's significantly underweight.

0:36:410:36:47

And I'm just concerned about how lethargic he is.

0:36:470:36:51

This is not the normal behaviour I'd expect of a six-year-old dog,

0:36:510:36:56

although I suspect that he is quite a lot older than six.

0:36:560:37:00

So what I think we need to do is take a blood sample from him and run a proper routine profile

0:37:000:37:06

-and see if there's anything else going on with him.

-OK.

0:37:060:37:10

'Blood tests will tell Gus if there's any hidden condition making Tiny lose weight and be lethargic.

0:37:100:37:17

'Meanwhile, it's now Tara's turn to be examined.'

0:37:170:37:22

This is a really, really nasty infection. The ear is completely red raw.

0:37:220:37:28

I want to take swabs. It needs to be syringed.

0:37:280:37:32

I think we need to do that tonight. I'll get my night staff to do that.

0:37:320:37:37

But...I think we'll have to knock her out. This is a really, really nasty ear.

0:37:370:37:43

-Is that going to be seriously painful for her?

-Absolutely. That's nasty.

0:37:430:37:49

'Tara's ears are in a much poorer state than Vicky originally thought.

0:37:490:37:54

'What makes this worse is that the dog has lived with this for months.

0:37:540:38:00

'And it's not just an infected ear.'

0:38:000:38:03

She's crawling with fleas.

0:38:030:38:06

Oh, she is, isn't she? Mutant fleas - they're huge!

0:38:070:38:11

-There's one.

-'The size of these fleas is shocking.

0:38:110:38:15

'On paper it's easy to see how big they are.'

0:38:150:38:19

See it hop over there? She does have an allergy to flea bites. There's hair loss here.

0:38:190:38:26

It's not nearly as severe as his. They would be far more comfortable with ongoing skin treatment.

0:38:260:38:33

-They could be completely cured.

-'Tara and Tiny will now stay with the RSPCA until they get better.'

0:38:330:38:41

These dogs will not be getting into a situation where they get into this state again.

0:38:410:38:47

This is the road back to health now.

0:38:470:38:50

There's absolutely no way they are not going to receive the necessary treatment.

0:38:500:38:56

'Vicky really didn't want to take the two dogs away from their owner,

0:38:560:39:00

'but at least now she's confident it's been the right decision.

0:39:000:39:05

'Three weeks have passed since Tara and Tiny came to the vet's.

0:39:070:39:13

'They've undergone extensive treatment. Now Vicky's brought them for another health check.

0:39:130:39:19

'They certainly look livelier and sound it, too, but will Gus agree?'

0:39:190:39:25

-Make an entrance(!)

-'First to be examined is Tiny.'

0:39:250:39:29

He's visibly gained weight. His fur and skin is much better.

0:39:290:39:34

-Can you pop him on the scales?

-Come on, then.

0:39:340:39:38

Oh, right. All four feet on.

0:39:400:39:43

25 point...three.

0:39:430:39:47

'Tiny's put on three-and-a-half kilos, but what about his skin?'

0:39:470:39:52

This skin is just so much better.

0:39:520:39:55

And we've really not given him a whole lot of treatment. We've treated him for his fleas

0:39:550:40:01

and given him a short course of antibiotics. He's more comfortable and all that smell's gone.

0:40:010:40:07

That may not ever grow in but it's a lot better than it was. Much less flaky.

0:40:070:40:13

-And he seems really happy.

-'Tiny's blood tests showed he had anaemia, caused by the fleas.

0:40:130:40:19

'This explains why he was so lethargic and why, now the fleas have gone, he's much brighter.'

0:40:190:40:26

-Right. Now Tara had that really horrible ear, didn't she?

-Yeah.

0:40:270:40:31

How's she been getting on?

0:40:310:40:35

She's been getting on much better.

0:40:350:40:37

She's holding her head properly now,

0:40:370:40:40

-whereas before she was always on the tilt with it. She's not shaking her head.

-Come on, girl.

0:40:400:40:47

Much, much better, that.

0:40:480:40:50

This has been such a long-standing condition, we won't cure it quickly.

0:40:500:40:55

-It's just going to take time, but she's far more comfortable.

-It was so bad.

0:40:550:41:00

'It's amazing that just weeks of treatment has almost cured months of neglect.'

0:41:000:41:06

They're both looking happier and more comfortable, with their different challenges.

0:41:060:41:12

Both put weight on, both seemed a lot brighter than last time, happier.

0:41:120:41:18

-Happier dogs altogether.

-'It's been difficult for Vicky.

0:41:180:41:22

'Although Tiny and Tara's owner does love his dogs, by failing to take them to the vet he let them suffer.'

0:41:220:41:30

It's not easy to take two older dogs away from a home they've been in since they were young.

0:41:300:41:35

I really had no choice but to ensure they got treatment,

0:41:350:41:40

but I'm glad they've got it now. Just in the three weeks they've improved so much already.

0:41:400:41:47

They've just had basic treatment and care and are doing brilliantly.

0:41:470:41:51

'Vicky will now spend time working with their owner to make sure they don't get in trouble again.'

0:41:510:41:58

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

0:42:040:42:10

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

0:42:100:42:17

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

0:42:170:42:21

-Next time: 14 family pets. Too much for their owner?

-That's a lot of stuff to look after.

0:42:240:42:31

-Not for me. I'm used to it.

-It is because none of them got any water.

0:42:310:42:36

-The skunk in search of a new home:

-Oh, dear me! That is strong.

0:42:360:42:41

Goodness me!

0:42:410:42:43

And I'm in the waiting room of a unique dentist.

0:42:430:42:47

Luckily, though, today it's not me that is going under the drill. It's the chap on my right.

0:42:470:42:54

Subtitles by for Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:100:43:14

Email [email protected]

0:43:140:43:18

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

The RSPCA rescue two flea-infested Alsatians whose owner ignores advice to get them treated. A swan is spotted with a serious injury to its wing, but its protective mate makes catching it extremely difficult. And Tom Heap bottle-feeds a real life Bambi.