The RSPCA tackle one family who own 14 pets, including a rather shaggy moggy called Furball and the search is on for a new home for a North American skunk.
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Britain's animals are under threat.
All too often our wildlife and domestic pets are the victims of cruelty, persecution and neglect.
Fighting to save them is a dedicated band of people
trying to protect and care for them right around the clock.
This is Animal 24/7.
In the air, on land and in the water,
Britain is a haven for animals,
but when they come up against man their lives are often in danger.
From our cramped inner cities to our fields and hedgerows,
from the highest moorland to the coast and beyond
Animal 24/7 is with the people working around the clock
to save endangered wildlife and protect vulnerable pets.
These are their stories.
Today on Animal 24/7,
a house with not one family pet but 14! Can their owner cope?
-That's a lot of stuff to look after.
-Well, not for me. I'm used to looking after...
Well, it obviously is because none of them have got any water.
The skunk in search of a bunk.
-He's lifting that gland, isn't he?
But would you give him a home?
-Oh, dear me! That is strong.
And I'm in the waiting room of a very unique dentist.
Luckily, though, today it's not me that's going under the grill. It's the chap on my right.
When animals get older they're often faced with the sad fact
that they're just too old for anyone to want to keep them as a pet.
In Bristol the RSPCA has been alerted to a family
who are struggling to properly care for the sheer number of pets they're looking after.
It's soon clear that one of the older animals is not getting the attention that he needs.
This is Furball, a lovable feline who's not in the best nick.
At 11 years old, he's got a badly overgrown and matted coat, but that's not all.
It seems there's a good reason why this elderly cat prefers the garden.
Furball's home is like a mini zoo.
With two German shepherds,
oh, and don't forget the gecko!
On top of that there are also five children.
Now the family is about to receive an unexpected visit from RSPCA inspector Becky Griffiths.
You need a bit of the groom, don't you, sweetheart?
She's keen to find out if all 14 animals are getting the care and attention they need.
Hello, sorry to trouble you.
I'm from the RSPCA. I had a call about your dogs and I wonder if I could take a quick look at them.
-No, you're more than welcome.
-OK. Is that your cat out there as well, the long-haired ginger and white one?
-Yeah, I'm taking him to have all his fur cut off.
-Oh, are you?
-Yeah, he needs it.
-Is it all right to come in, then?
-Yeah, come on in.
-How many pets have you got?
-What are you going to do with all the puppies?
-I'm advertising them.
-Are you? How old are they now?
-They're seven weeks.
Inside the house, Becky quickly realises things are out of control.
-Do you want to pop them in a different room for the moment?
She needs to check each and every pet for signs of neglect.
Let's start at the beginning, shall we? Shall we start with the bird? Has it got water in there?
-It's due to be watered...
-Due to be watered. So, is it dry?
-That's just drying.
-OK. Do you want me to do that now, then, so he's got some water?
Have you got food for the birds as well? Yeah, you have?
Right, these have got no food and no water.
OK, the black one is quite skinny, all right?
Yeah, I'll sort that out now.
Becky's lost for words.
Not one of these animals is being cared for properly
and for the German shepherd and her puppies it's the same story.
-And where's the dogs' water?
-At the moment it's empty.
-It's empty as well.
-At the moment, yeah.
-OK, do you want to fill that up while I'm here?
Becky warns the owner that the way these animals are being kept is simply not good enough.
First glance, too many animals and too much stuff going on.
You're obviously not looking after them properly.
I've walked in, none of them have got any water.
Well, that doesn't normally happen.
OK, well, I've come in on spec, you know, not prearranged,
and there's no water and they look very thirsty.
I mean, they're guzzling now. I just think you've got too many.
-How many puppies?
-Two dogs, two gerbils, a cockatiel, that's a lot of stuff to look after, isn't it?
-Well, not for me.
I'm used to looking after them.
Well, it obviously is because...
Normally I'm on top of everything.
Right. I can help you out, I can re-home some of your animals if you want me to.
-I... I will also be issuing you a ticket to make sure that you get some weight on the dog here.
-Yeah, that's fine.
-Has she been into the vet? Have you taken her into the vet's at all?
-No, not yet.
-You haven't, no.
Despite the owner's insistence that everything's OK, Becky's not happy.
She spells out exactly what she wants to see done.
She needs to be putting on weight. I'm going to come back on spec.
-And hopefully all your animals will have some water.
Becky wants to help by taking away some of the animals and easing the burden.
There's too many animals, too much to cope with. She's got to keep her eye on her kids, let alone the animals.
You just can't keep your eye on everything all at once, so things have obviously...slid.
But she's most concerned about Furball with his badly matted coat.
She's worried he's left all alone to fend for himself.
I want to get that cat off of her because that, obviously, has been neglected for quite a while.
Once those mats start pulling out, they can become quite sore.
I've seen a cat, you know, that's got...
It rips the skin out eventually, if it's left too long.
Although Becky has agreed to give the owner the chance to prove
she can care for her pets, she's determined not to leave without Furball.
She persuades his owner to let him go so he can get the attention he deserves.
-What's his name?
-How old is he?
-11 years old.
Before she leaves, Becky reiterates what she wants to see done.
Right, let me go and get you to sign a form for him.
My job is for the animals' welfare and you just need to spend a bit of time on them, OK?
So I'll pop back in about a couple of weeks on spec and we'll make sure that everything's got food and water,
and if you do have any leftover pups, all right, ring me up. What I'll do...
Keep that bit of paper, I'll put my number on it. Leave a message for me
and say that you need some help with re-homing, all right?
Because you don't want more adult dogs
because then you've got to get more neutered and there's more vet bills, et cetera, et cetera. OK?
Happy the owner understands,
Becky's priority now is to get Furball to see the vet.
Hopefully, Furball will have a bit of a trim or something, and a health check, and we'll go from there.
If Furball's a healthy cat, and friendly, then he's got every chance of being re-homed.
We do have problems if they're sick or if, you know, they're feral or whatever.
Obviously, people want a cat they can cuddle, so... But he's, you know...
Once his fur is in shape he'll be quite a nice-looking cat.
People like ginger and white cats, so he's got a decent chance, so...
fingers crossed for him.
But, even if Furball is completely healthy, the competition for new homes is stiff
and at 11 years old he's not a young cat.
Will anyone be willing to give this old feline a second chance?
Coming up, Furball needs a haircut, but will it be enough to win him a new home?
We do have quite a lot of cats in at the moment, so it will decide how suitable for re-homing he is.
'And the animal dentist battling to save a badger with a broken jaw.'
What have you just learned?
The upper jaw's got a fracture, which we didn't pick up from the X-ray.
If the animal was still in the wild then it would be a goner.
In the last year alone the number of exotic pets rescued by the RSPCA has increased by 20%,
but not everybody's responsible enough to call for help.
Some people simply let their unwanted or unmanageable pets out into the wild.
This is exactly what's happened to one animal in the north of England,
a creature that's more commonly associated with North America.
West Yorkshire, and around these Bradford streets an exotic animal has been on the prowl.
And it's been causing quite a stink.
After six months of searching and chasing, the animal's finally been caught,
but this isn't your usual cat or dog.
Meet Pepe the skunk.
RSPCA officer Dennis Lovell has had a four-hour journey up from Hertfordshire
to collect Pepe and take him to his new home.
Helping him is colleague Carol Neale.
Skunks are known to be extremely smelly, but this one, he has had
his scent glands removed, so he's not, you know, too difficult to deal with.
Well, I haven't met the skunk yet, so I'm going to go in and see what he's like first.
You know, if they've been bred in captivity, which most of them are, all of them should be,
they could be quite handleable, but I'm just going to try and be gentle with him.
It's well known that if skunks feel threatened they'll release a jet of highly offensive-smelling liquid,
but, being de-scented, Pepe doesn't pose that risk.
Come on, Pepe.
Pop it along the wall.
-He's having a little grumble.
-Just try and guide him. Just get him to...
-That's it. Come on, then.
That's perfect. That's...
-Just... Yeah, just keep lifting him up, Carol. That's it.
He says he doesn't want to go.
-He's lifting that gland, isn't he?
But it's only for a show. No scent gland means no smell,
-but Pepe can still give them the run-around.
-Come on, lad!
In you go.
No, he says, "I'm not."
Come on, little fella.
Finally Pepe is cornered, but then the unexpected!
Oh, dear me, that is strong.
It seems this skunk may have those scent glands after all.
That is strong.
I wonder if that one has been de-scented, actually.
It's very strong and it's a bit ammonia-like, to be quite honest.
-I'm not sure whether he has been de-scented.
-I don't think he has.
I'll have to disinfect this.
Oh, dear me! That is strong, isn't it?
What worries me is that these are being sold now
and if someone ends up with one of these and just takes it home in the front room
they don't know what they're going to be expecting.
Dennis has found a temporary home for Pepe at a zoo in Hertfordshire,
but they're not expecting the arrival of a fully operational skunk.
He's going in to see a vet when we get down South
and I'll phone ahead now and let them know he's not de-scented.
It is a relatively minor procedure, I suppose.
Hopefully it can be done quite quickly, but I will phone ahead and warn them.
Right, Pepe, let's get you down South, my smelly little friend!
Be a good boy, Pepe.
With Pepe safely placed in Dennis's van, he sets off on his 180-mile trip.
But an hour into the journey Dennis pulls into the services to take a call from base,
and it's not good news for Pepe.
We've run into a few problems with the skunk.
I've just spoken to my chief and it is against the Animal...
the new Animal Welfare Act for us to remove the scent glands.
No vet would legally be able to do that.
The Animal Welfare Act of 2006 made it illegal to remove a skunk's scent glands
as it is a cosmetic operation.
Dennis phones the zoo, as he knows that trying
to re-home a scented skunk is a different matter entirely.
'Mark Amy, who we were going to...who was going to house the skunk
'cannot accept it because of that reason.'
It's an unusual situation for Dennis.
He's stuck on the M1 with a North American skunk that nobody wants.
He's got no place to go and he's running out of options.
My chief has also spoken to London Zoo. They cannot accept it for the very same reason.
At the moment the future looks quite bleak for the skunk and
unless something happens in the next couple of hours
our next option would be to put... to put it to sleep.
With Pepe's life in the balance, Dennis gets back on the phone
determined to find a home for an aromatic skunk.
OK. Cheers, thanks a lot. Bye.
There has been a reprieve.
Blackberry Farm, our re-homing centre down in Oxfordshire,
has said this skunk can go and stay there for a couple of days
and we will put a message out nationally across the RSPCA trying to find a place
that will accept a skunk with these glands intact and, fingers crossed, we might have a brighter future.
With the new destination, it's back out on the road for Dennis.
Although unusual, some people do keep skunks as pets
and if someone agrees to take Pepe his life may have been saved.
-Hi, Dennis, are you all right?
-Yeah, all right, yeah.
-You've got a skunk for me?
-I certainly have.
Try to keep him calm.
Yes, please do!
Julie Allen manages the centre and has prepared a safe house for the new guest.
That's quite a nice setup, Julie.
We've had a skunk before. We've tried to set it out as best we can.
Hopefully he'll be nice and calm in here or the rest of my small animals will smell him.
Shall we go and put him in?
I'm just going to open the kennel.
Slowly but surely, Pepe begins to explore his new surroundings.
After six months of living rough it's a whole new experience.
Julie and Dennis are now hoping someone will take Pepe in and give him a good home.
He is a handsome boy. We just need to find him a really good place to be re-homed in.
A message has been put out across the society
for a home for him, somebody who has the facilities to care for him
-and to keep him, you know, in relative comfort.
But Pepe has only 48 hours in which to find a new owner.
Legally we cannot touch him, legally we cannot take his scent glands away.
Erm...we would not keep him caged like this. This is a temporary thing.
We would not keep him caged and, you know, we would be bound to put him to sleep.
But, fingers crossed,
-we hope we don't have to go down that road.
-Cos you're a handsome boy.
He's a lovely animal.
Later, has Pepe's life on the streets left him in danger?
He would have been living on kebabs.
If he was carrying on eating junk food he'd have died of heart failure very, very soon, I should imagine.
And Furball's makeover reveals the full extent of his neglect.
And this is a particularly large one that's going all down the side of his body here.
Catching up with a little celebrity gossip is about all my brain can cope with
when I'm sitting in fear in the dentist's waiting room.
Luckily, though, today it's not me that's going under the drill, it's the chap on my right.
This is Peter Cortez, one of the country's top dental surgeons.
From Monday to Thursday he treats humans at his practice in Mayfair, but Friday is animal day,
where he lends his expertise to help zoos and wildlife sanctuaries across the world.
Today he's visiting Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital near Aylesbury.
His next patient is a young badger.
It's thought he's been hit by a car and has a badly broken jaw.
Peter consults vet Nick Masters, checking the badger's X-ray to see the extent of the damage.
What are we looking at here and what are the issues you're facing?
You've got two fractures, one is quite high there, near the ear,
and there's at least one down here.
The muscles are very strong in these animals.
It's a very young animal, you can tell by the highly immature teeth
and the very thin walls on those teeth,
so healing shouldn't be a problem, but we have to see
if there are any teeth involved in the fracture line
because those teeth are a perfect pathway for bacteria to get in
and cause a major and possibly fatal infection.
So, we'll see once the animal's down exactly what you're looking at,
but there may be the option to do some internal wiring, that the animal won't be able to get too traumatised,
or we may even find, with a bit of luck, that it's stable enough
that we don't need to put any metalwork in there at all,
which would be ideal.
'With the badger anaesthetised, Nick and Peter can examine the damage thoroughly.
'The initial diagnosis is poor.
Why is it so serious, why is it so bad?
Because you've got a piece of bone there that is not viable.
Now, if you were doing this on a human then you could probably get
a piece of bone from the pelvis or somewhere and then graft it in,
or you would get a piece of metal put in there,
but I think that that piece of bone is going to die off and you're going to have this gap there.
That's pretty serious, a gap in a badger's jaw. That's not going to be able to survive, is it?
-We've got nothing to lose.
-No, absolutely not.
-Nothing to lose.
'But, as the badger's prepared for surgery, things go from bad to worse
'as more damage to its mouth is found.'
What have you just learned?
The upper bit of the jaw, the maxilla on the right side,
has got a fracture as well, which we didn't pick up from the X-ray.
It's gone all the way through.
You can see there's a crack right across the palate, there,
but unfortunately it goes straight through into the nose.
If the animal was still in the wild, then it would be a goner.
The injury is much more serious than first thought.
Peter now has to decide the best course of action.
Well, you've only got two options, either you do nothing and the animal is euthanised,
or you attempt to wire it up internally, and put him on massive antibiotics.
And then we have to wire it by drilling through the jaw,
and in that process you would damage all those teeth, probably.
So you're either sacrificing life or sacrificing teeth,
because by drilling through, you're going to be damaging the teeth.
The team agree to give the badger a chance of life.
Peter starts the difficult procedure of threading wire through the animal's broken jaw.
So we've got to find the wire in the other one,
and a piece down there,
which might not be quite so easy.
It's painstaking work.
Nick makes sure the badger's heart and breathing are stable
under the anaesthetic, while Peter wires the jaw, hoping it will fuse together.
Well, they've already been working on this badger for over an hour, and it'll take much more time yet.
It really shows the dedication that they have to the animals here,
that they're prepared to spend all this money and all this time
on something that only has, probably, a 50/50 chance of survival.
'The intricate wire work continues for almost another hour,
'before Peter can start to apply the finishing touches.'
What stage are you at now, Peter?
I'm tightening up the wires.
This is the most difficult one, with the risk it's going to break.
That's the trick? Tight enough to pull it together, but not enough to break?
-That is correct.
-So, how did the procedure compare with what you expected?
Very difficult, but I think we've done extremely well.
It's been a team effort, and the animal has got a very good chance of survival, I think.
It's pretty amazing, cos you started with a jaw in what, I don't know,
three or four pieces, and now it seems to move as one.
Well, we took a lot of big pieces out that were actually infected and loose,
so we've got no loose pieces except that one fragment,
which we used to tie everything together,
and just, hopefully, masses of antibiotics will keep it under control
till the bone can knit together.
Well, that was over two hours to repair a jaw that could accurately be described as mashed.
They were pretty pessimistic when they first started, but thought they'd give it a go anyway.
I sense slightly greater hope now.
'Within minutes, the badger starts to come round from his anaesthetic.
'It seems incredible, to me, the lengths the team have gone to.'
When you first discovered what the problems were there,
I thought it was quite likely that you and Nick were going to decide, "It's not worth it," but you didn't.
It's not a question of, "Is it worth it?"
You weigh things up, and you say, "Is there a...?"
Are you giving an animal a reasonably good chance of survival?
You don't want to cause it unnecessary pain and suffering,
sometimes it is kinder to euthanise these animals.
Of course, one advantage about animals,
is they don't whinge when they go to the dentist, like I probably would. These guys are tough.
The advantage of working with someone like you is you can give us feedback.
With these animals, you have to interpret what you see,
and work out what the priorities are, and what is best for the animal.
You, I can discuss it after, "Come back tomorrow, come back next week, we'll do a little bit more."
No, we've got to get it right, first time, every time.
And, thanks to Peter and his team, this badger will have another shot at life,
and will hopefully make it back to the wild.
Later, Pepe the skunk gets lucky, with a new home and some familiar faces.
The least I can hope for is that he just learns to trust us, and comes out when we're about.
If we can get him like our other skunks, it will be fantastic.
Now, we're back to the story of Furball, the elderly feline.
The cat was rescued from a house overrun with pets.
There were dogs, birds, gerbils, and even a gecko.
It was clear the owner was struggling to cope,
so Furball was taken away to be found a new home,
but first, he needs to see the vet.
Poor old Furball is not looking his best at the moment.
With overgrown and matted fur, he's in desperate need of some TLC.
But help is at hand.
RSPCA inspector Becky Griffiths is determined to give Furball a second chance.
-She's brought him to the animal clinic, where vet James Yates
will give him a full health check, and tackle his tangled mane.
I've been to a house with numerous animals.
Two German shepherds, seven pups, this cat, two gerbils and a gecko.
This cat I was particularly concerned about - I found it outside,
it's obviously been a bit neglected outside, it's completely matted.
-Do you know how old?
-11 years old, and he's called Furball.
-Which he seems to have developed into.
I'll just check his chest to make sure that's OK.
That sounds all right. His heart sounds fine.
His eyes look fairly OK. There's little bit of gunk. He's a bit run down.
Furball's given a clean bill of health, but James is concerned about the state of his coat.
He's got a little matt behind there,
and then, sort of, that matt there, and some around there.
And he's got that big huge wedge along there.
Yeah. We might be able to get those matts off just clipping consciously.
But otherwise he might need an anaesthetic, if they're too sore to take them off him.
We do have quite a lot of cats in at the moment,
so it will decide how suitable for a re-homing he is,
-though he is very nice.
-He is a nice old puss.
Everyone agrees that Furball is good-natured, and would make a lovely family pet.
We don't know what's going to happen yet. I've put him in at the clinic.
Unfortunately, they are absolutely packed full of cats.
It might be due to space and the fact that he is an older cat,
that he might have to be put to sleep, which is a shame.
I have this decision to make when I visit a house.
Do I leave them in situ where he might not get the care he needs, or do I bring him in?
Hopefully, we can have a space for him, but he might be put to sleep.
It's quite hard, as an inspector. It's something you have to deal with.
For now, Furball is left to get used to his new surroundings.
In a few hours' time, he'll be given that much-needed haircut.
Becky's work continues.
She's just been told about another cat that needs her help.
We've got an abandoned cat at this address. The owners have been evicted.
There's a great big metal door on the flat, and the cat is basically hanging about outside.
The neighbours have been feeding it.
I'm going to pick up the cat, check that it's healthy,
perhaps leave a notice up for the owners, where to contact,
and try and put the cat somewhere.
Is that the cat?
Becky's met by Tina Hale, who found the cat.
She's worried he may have some health problems.
-If you look at his back end, he's got loads of sores and stuff.
Yeah, that's a flea allergy, yeah.
It's not too bad, actually.
-He likes you.
-He likes everyone.
-Is he really friendly?
Do you know how old he is, or anything like that?
I'd say about a couple of years old.
-Quite young, isn't he?
-What a friendly little pussycat, he's lovely.
Do you know his name or anything?
Marley, as in Bob, Bob Marley?
In the unlikely event of the owners coming back for Marley, Becky leaves details of how to contact her.
It is a really common problem. If they phone us in advance and ask for help,
we could arrange for spaces to help them out with their animals.
Unfortunately, they leave everything to the last minute,
we get called on the day, or after the event, and we have to pick up the pieces.
Becky now has to get Marley to a vet to find out if being abandoned has caused him any health problems.
Vet Damian Puccini will now decide if Marley can be re-homed.
He's got a mild flea allergy which might even be healing up, actually, to tell the truth.
-He seems a very friendly type.
-He is, he's lovely.
He's obviously lost a little bit of hair, hasn't he, along the back of his neck and his back.
He's got a very mild degree of gingivitis,
a little bit of inflammation of his gums, but otherwise fine.
They look pretty clean. We'll just check for mites.
Yeah, they're both clear, so that's good.
Marley's given the all-clear, and seems to be quite happy to be finally getting some attention.
He looks like a relatively young cat, I'm guessing sort of two, three years old.
He seems a very nice-natured cat. Hopefully, we should be able to find him a home.
This is the bit I love about my job, giving him a cuddle.
Marley's owners now have seven days in which to come back for him.
If they don't, he'll be on the lookout for a new family.
On the other side of the clinic, the time has come for Furball to have his much-needed makeover.
Hello, sweetheart. Good cat.
-There we go.
-Vet nurse Lucy Sverring is in charge of his new look,
and hopes it will make him feel a lot better.
He's got quite a lot of big, matted areas of fur on him,
so we're just going to clip some of them off, just to try and make him a little bit more comfortable.
He is quite overweight, so I think he probably is struggling to groom himself around the back, as well.
And as Lucy trims away his fur, she's shocked at how badly matted it's become.
It's going to make him feel a lot more comfortable.
I mean, if you could imagine having that stuck to you, that's going to be quite itchy and irritating.
He has got signs of fleas, so he's going to have a lot of fleas and that crawling around in there.
It's just going to get a little bit hot, it's not going to be that comfortable.
He's being ever so well-behaved, aren't you, sweetheart?
Despite being a little uncomfortable at times, Furball's good nature shines through.
This is a particularly large one, that's going all down the side of his body here.
It's clear he'll make someone a lovely pet.
After saying goodbye to his matted mane, Furball heads to the cattery.
He joins Marley and all the other moggies hoping to catch the eye of a new owner.
But the competition is fierce, and while the youthful Marley stands a good chance,
being 11 years old, Furball could struggle.
Coming up, one down, 13 to go.
Will Furball's old owner have listened to Becky's advice?
I'm hoping she would have sorted things out.
You always live in hope.
Now, let's catch up with Pepe the skunk, found wandering the streets of West Yorkshire.
Everyone thought Pepe had his scent glands removed so he could easily be re-homed,
but when RSPCA officer Dennis Lovell arrived to take him away,
he got an unpleasant surprise.
Pepe was in fact a fully-operational skunk.
Dennis was left with a problem.
The original home couldn't take him,
and if a new owner couldn't be found, Pepe's future looked bleak.
North Devon, and this is home of Ray Baker, keeper of exotic pets.
He has snakes, lizards, fish, and a rather bullied black Labrador
called Blaze, who gets a hard time from five domesticated skunks.
Make that six - it's now Pepe's new home, too!
We got a call from a friend of ours, Richard, who's quite close with a couple of the RSPCA inspectors,
and said that Pepe was in dire need of a home, and were we interested?
I said, "Yeah, where is he? I'll go and get him tonight."
That was to Blackberry Farm, to Oxford, but I'd have driven to Scotland for him.
We'd have gone anywhere. They're fantastic animals, and I wouldn't have seen him destroyed.
Pepe has been given a room of his own, to give him time to get used to his new home and family,
but Ray is worried that Pepe is overweight.
It seems that during his six months on the streets, he'd been surviving on a diet of junk food.
He would have been living on kebabs, throwaway junk.
We're a very untidy species ourselves.
We throw so much food away.
He'd have found no problems at all getting into bins and just basically feeding on whatever he wanted.
If he was carrying on eating junk food, he'd have...
Well, he'd have died of heart failure very, very soon, I should imagine.
Some of this food looks good enough for us to eat, but that can't be said about all of it.
Now he's getting a nice mixture of fresh veg.
We've got some corn, sweet potato, courgette, cauliflower.
He's going to have some mealworms, because they're omnivorous, they like to... They like their insects.
We feed them... Feed the adults twice a day,
youngsters get fed three times a day, but there's always food down on the floor for them.
You know, we'll pack the bowl out.
They don't eat that much during the day, more in the evening.
There's always water, they do drink.
In the wild they're never more than, sort of, a kilometre away from a water source and that.
Hello, Pepe. Dinner time, mate.
Hello. Are you going to come out for your dinner, mate?
Come on, then.
While delivering dinner, Ray has to be careful not to get squirted, but he's used to rearing scented skunks.
Two of his other pets have their scent glands intact.
As they've become used to people, they're now unlikely to spray.
Instead, they just raise their tails as a threat, which is good news for Ray.
It's a really strong smell of garlic and onions, with a hint of burnt electricals,
burnt rubber in it, and it does shut your nose down.
You stop smelling it after a very short while because it...
I don't know whether it literally burns, but it just shuts your nose down.
And it lingers for a long time.
If you get sprayed in your clothes,
throw them away, because you won't be able to wash it out.
Ray is trying to get Pepe used to people...
-Come on, trouble.
-.. so he doesn't feel scared, and the first signs are good.
He's slowly getting better. He's not as stompy,
he doesn't show his backside to us as much as he used to.
He's a lot better than he was.
If we can get him like our others, it'd be fantastic.
Ray's other skunks have a whale of a time here.
Which is more than can be said for Blaze...
Blaze, be good.
..who rarely gets a moment's peace.
We've only been keeping skunks for three years, and as far as
I'm aware, up until recently there's only ever been sort of 300, 400 skunks in the UK.
They're starting to become more popular.
I think there is going to be more in the future coming out and because
you can't de-scent them, there will e a problem with re-homing.
But Pepe's one of the lucky ones.
Scent glands intact, he's been given a second chance.
Ray's taken him into his heart and will do anything to make sure he settles in.
If he decides that he doesn't want to be a house skunk and he's not happy living in a house,
we'll build a nice big enclosure out in the garden for him and he can go and live out there.
The least I can hope for is the fact that he just learns to trust us and comes out when we're about.
They're worth getting passionate about.
It'll take a while for Ray to earn Pepe's trust, but with his owner determined to make it work,
this is one skunk who's come up smelling of roses.
Earlier, we saw RSPCA officer Becky Griffiths rescue two neglected cats.
Both the abandoned youngster Marley and the older feline called Furball have been taken to a local cattery,
where they're looking for new owners.
Furball was taken from a family who were having difficulties
caring for the huge number of animals in their house.
We catch up with Becky as she makes an unannounced visit to the property.
On her last visit to the property, Becky was concerned that the owner
was struggling to care for such a large number of pets.
None of the animals had any water, and she had six puppies, two adult dogs,
a gerbil, a cockatiel and a lizard.
I'm hoping she would have sorted things out.
You always live in hope.
-Hiya. It's me again, I'm afraid.
-Is it all right to come in?
If this owner hasn't followed the advice, she could risk losing even more of her pets.
But to Becky's surprise, first impressions look good.
So, this is the female one?
Yeah? That's OK. What's her name again?
She's put on loads of weight, fantastic, and I notice you've got rid of some of the puppies, so...
-So that's helped her put on weight as well, yeah?
-Plus the fact we've wormed her out, as well.
-All right, then.
-He's got more water.
He's got... He's got food and water.
-Fantastic. So, have you got a bit more of a routine now?
You get up in the morning and check through them?
Well, the routine is, I get the kids to school, I go down to
the shop, get the dogs' food, put fresh water down for the dogs, then they're fed straightaway.
Can I just stick my head into the dog's room to check that he's got his water?
-Thank you. Fantastic.
-Brilliant. And the other two pups, have they got a home to go to?
They have? OK. Hello, little one.
Hello, you're lovely. It's a lot better.
Fantastic. So, if you keep it up, you won't get any more phone calls, and then I'll be off your back then.
-No, that's fine.
Having so many pets needs an organised approach...
-Cheers, then, bye.
-Thank you. Bye.
..and thankfully this owner now has a good routine that helps her deal with their every need.
It's a lot better. She's got rid of some of the puppies.
The female adult dog has put on some weight.
The male adult dog is being treated, and it's re-grown its hair.
The bird had some water, the gerbil had some water.
She seems to be sorting things out.
Hopefully, you know, she'll keep that up.
Hopefully I won't get another phone call about her and I won't have to go back there again.
Three weeks have passed since Becky picked up
the black cat that had been abandoned on the Bristol estate.
His owner never did come back for him, so he was put up for adoption.
But just two days later, he was snapped up.
Meet Marley's new family, Helen, Neil and their two sons, Finn and Lewis.
And Marley also has a new name - Bertie.
It's a bit too tricky, that is.
What about Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?
I've always liked cats, and our other cat got run over... Two years ago or something?
-He got run over.
So we wanted another cat, and I finally persuaded Neil to get a cat, so we got Bertie.
Now we've got a cat!
I went along on my own first.
I thought kind of like a male tomcat that was friendly was probably
the best with children, because sometimes the female cats seem a bit scratchy with kids.
And so the woman there immediately said Bertie's brilliant, he'd be fine with children.
I think the very first night the kids had a sleepover, and so
there was, I think, four boys bouncing on the bed in the bedroom, and Bertie
right in the middle purring away as the kids leapt off the beds, so I think just sort of immediately
you think, "Oh, he's quite chilled with children and he's not going to be too stressed."
He's a very friendly puss.
With one cat happily settled in, it's now just Furball who's desperate for a new home.
The ginger tom was originally taken from the family overrun with animals.
He's been at the cattery for over five weeks,
but space is limited here.
Furball can't stay forever.
There he is.
But just as things seemed hopeless, he was spotted by Kieron and Verity Pitts.
We've already chipped him, so he's all ready to go.
They've been looking for an older cat, and Furball fits the bill perfectly.
If you just pop it back on the floor, that would be great.
So today they're taking him home.
Oh, it's fantastic. It's great to see him looking so well and we just can't wait to get him home, really.
-Thanks ever so much.
Being old, the odds of finding a new home were firmly
stacked against Furball, but now he can look forward to enjoying his twilight years in comfort.
Well, I've always loved cats.
I've always had cats, really enjoyed having them, and then our last cat died in January,
so we thought we'd wait until after the wedding until we got a new one.
We were looking for an older cat, really, and as soon as we saw Furball we just fell in love with him.
Are you coming out?
Straight back in!
Considering what he's gone through,
he seems a remarkably relaxed cat, and, you know, he's extremely affectionate.
In his autumn years it's good for a cat
to have a nice place to sort of curl up and watch the world go by.
I think it's just
a mark of his character that he's so friendly after all he's been through.
If you think you know of a case of wildlife crime or a creature that needs immediate attention,
remember there are dedicated professionals out there who will answer your call around the clock.
They're the people we meet on Animal 24:7.
Next time, the police are called to four neglected dogs...
I'll be looking at getting the animals seized.
We'll have a vet here when you arrive.
..Ozzie the bad-tempered lizard who needs a new owner...
-On a scale of most aggressive iguanas...
-I've got his tail.
Yeah, I'm not worried about the tail, it's the legs.
..and, on the move, the birds evicted from their upmarket home.
We're going to do some duck herding.
That sounds suspiciously like I'm going to be made to look like a fool!
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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Series following people who protect and work closely with wildlife and domestic animals.
The RSPCA tackle one family who own 14 pets, including a rather shaggy moggy called Furball. We go in search of a new home for a North American skunk and presenter Tom Heap visits the animal dentist.