Episode 19 Animal 24:7


Episode 19

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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Transcript


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Britain's animals are under threat.

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All too often our wildlife and domestic pets are the victims of cruelty, persecution and neglect.

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Fighting to save them is a dedicated band of people

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

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This is Animal 24/7.

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In the air, on land and in the water,

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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 to our fields and hedgerows,

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from the highest moorland to the coast and beyond

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

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to save endangered wildlife and protect vulnerable pets.

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These are their stories.

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Today on Animal 24/7,

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a house with not one family pet but 14! Can their owner cope?

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

-Well, not for me. I'm used to looking after...

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Well, it obviously is because none of them have got any water.

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The skunk in search of a bunk.

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-He's lifting that gland, isn't he?

-He is.

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But would you give him a home?

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-Oh, dear me! That is strong.

-Goodness me.

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

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

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When animals get older they're often faced with the sad fact

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that they're just too old for anyone to want to keep them as a pet.

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In Bristol the RSPCA has been alerted to a family

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who are struggling to properly care for the sheer number of pets they're looking after.

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It's soon clear that one of the older animals is not getting the attention that he needs.

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This is Furball, a lovable feline who's not in the best nick.

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At 11 years old, he's got a badly overgrown and matted coat, but that's not all.

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It seems there's a good reason why this elderly cat prefers the garden.

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Furball's home is like a mini zoo.

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With two German shepherds,

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seven puppies,

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two gerbils,

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a cockatiel,

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oh, and don't forget the gecko!

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On top of that there are also five children.

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Now the family is about to receive an unexpected visit from RSPCA inspector Becky Griffiths.

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You need a bit of the groom, don't you, sweetheart?

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She's keen to find out if all 14 animals are getting the care and attention they need.

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Hello, sorry to trouble you.

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I'm from the RSPCA. I had a call about your dogs and I wonder if I could take a quick look at them.

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-No, you're more than welcome.

-OK. Is that your cat out there as well, the long-haired ginger and white one?

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-Yeah, I'm taking him to have all his fur cut off.

-Oh, are you?

-Yeah.

-Yeah, he needs it.

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-Is it all right to come in, then?

-Yeah, come on in.

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-How many pets have you got?

-Seven.

-Seven?

-Yeah.

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-What are you going to do with all the puppies?

-I'm advertising them.

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-Are you? How old are they now?

-They're seven weeks.

-Seven weeks.

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Inside the house, Becky quickly realises things are out of control.

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LOUD BARKING

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-Do you want to pop them in a different room for the moment?

-Yeah.

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She needs to check each and every pet for signs of neglect.

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Let's start at the beginning, shall we? Shall we start with the bird? Has it got water in there?

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-It's due to be watered...

-Due to be watered. So, is it dry?

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I'll check.

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-That's just drying.

-OK. Do you want me to do that now, then, so he's got some water?

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Have you got food for the birds as well? Yeah, you have?

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Right, these have got no food and no water.

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OK, the black one is quite skinny, all right?

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Yeah, I'll sort that out now.

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Becky's lost for words.

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Not one of these animals is being cared for properly

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and for the German shepherd and her puppies it's the same story.

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-And where's the dogs' water?

-At the moment it's empty.

-It's empty as well.

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-At the moment, yeah.

-OK, do you want to fill that up while I'm here?

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Becky warns the owner that the way these animals are being kept is simply not good enough.

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First glance, too many animals and too much stuff going on.

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You're obviously not looking after them properly.

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I've walked in, none of them have got any water.

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Well, that doesn't normally happen.

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OK, well, I've come in on spec, you know, not prearranged,

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and there's no water and they look very thirsty.

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I mean, they're guzzling now. I just think you've got too many.

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-How many puppies?

-Seven.

-Seven.

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-Two dogs, two gerbils, a cockatiel, that's a lot of stuff to look after, isn't it?

-Well, not for me.

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I'm used to looking after them.

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Well, it obviously is because...

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Normally I'm on top of everything.

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Right. I can help you out, I can re-home some of your animals if you want me to.

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-Right.

-I... I will also be issuing you a ticket to make sure that you get some weight on the dog here.

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-Yeah, that's fine.

-Has she been into the vet? Have you taken her into the vet's at all?

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-No, not yet.

-You haven't, no.

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Despite the owner's insistence that everything's OK, Becky's not happy.

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She spells out exactly what she wants to see done.

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She needs to be putting on weight. I'm going to come back on spec.

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-Right.

-And hopefully all your animals will have some water.

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Becky wants to help by taking away some of the animals and easing the burden.

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There's too many animals, too much to cope with. She's got to keep her eye on her kids, let alone the animals.

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You just can't keep your eye on everything all at once, so things have obviously...slid.

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But she's most concerned about Furball with his badly matted coat.

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She's worried he's left all alone to fend for himself.

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I want to get that cat off of her because that, obviously, has been neglected for quite a while.

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Once those mats start pulling out, they can become quite sore.

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I've seen a cat, you know, that's got...

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It rips the skin out eventually, if it's left too long.

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Although Becky has agreed to give the owner the chance to prove

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she can care for her pets, she's determined not to leave without Furball.

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She persuades his owner to let him go so he can get the attention he deserves.

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-What's his name?

-Furball.

-How old is he?

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-11 years old.

-11.

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Before she leaves, Becky reiterates what she wants to see done.

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Right, let me go and get you to sign a form for him.

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My job is for the animals' welfare and you just need to spend a bit of time on them, OK?

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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,

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and if you do have any leftover pups, all right, ring me up. What I'll do...

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Keep that bit of paper, I'll put my number on it. Leave a message for me

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and say that you need some help with re-homing, all right?

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Because you don't want more adult dogs

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because then you've got to get more neutered and there's more vet bills, et cetera, et cetera. OK?

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Happy the owner understands,

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Becky's priority now is to get Furball to see the vet.

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Hopefully, Furball will have a bit of a trim or something, and a health check, and we'll go from there.

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If Furball's a healthy cat, and friendly, then he's got every chance of being re-homed.

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We do have problems if they're sick or if, you know, they're feral or whatever.

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Obviously, people want a cat they can cuddle, so... But he's, you know...

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Once his fur is in shape he'll be quite a nice-looking cat.

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People like ginger and white cats, so he's got a decent chance, so...

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fingers crossed for him.

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But, even if Furball is completely healthy, the competition for new homes is stiff

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and at 11 years old he's not a young cat.

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Will anyone be willing to give this old feline a second chance?

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Coming up, Furball needs a haircut, but will it be enough to win him a new home?

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We do have quite a lot of cats in at the moment, so it will decide how suitable for re-homing he is.

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'And the animal dentist battling to save a badger with a broken jaw.'

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What have you just learned?

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The upper jaw's got a fracture, which we didn't pick up from the X-ray.

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If the animal was still in the wild then it would be a goner.

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In the last year alone the number of exotic pets rescued by the RSPCA has increased by 20%,

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but not everybody's responsible enough to call for help.

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Some people simply let their unwanted or unmanageable pets out into the wild.

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This is exactly what's happened to one animal in the north of England,

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a creature that's more commonly associated with North America.

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West Yorkshire, and around these Bradford streets an exotic animal has been on the prowl.

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And it's been causing quite a stink.

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After six months of searching and chasing, the animal's finally been caught,

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but this isn't your usual cat or dog.

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Meet Pepe the skunk.

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RSPCA officer Dennis Lovell has had a four-hour journey up from Hertfordshire

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to collect Pepe and take him to his new home.

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Helping him is colleague Carol Neale.

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Skunks are known to be extremely smelly, but this one, he has had

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his scent glands removed, so he's not, you know, too difficult to deal with.

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Well, I haven't met the skunk yet, so I'm going to go in and see what he's like first.

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You know, if they've been bred in captivity, which most of them are, all of them should be,

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they could be quite handleable, but I'm just going to try and be gentle with him.

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It's well known that if skunks feel threatened they'll release a jet of highly offensive-smelling liquid,

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but, being de-scented, Pepe doesn't pose that risk.

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Come on, Pepe.

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Pop it along the wall.

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-He's having a little grumble.

-Just try and guide him. Just get him to...

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-That's it. Come on, then.

-Come on.

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That's perfect. That's...

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-Just... Yeah, just keep lifting him up, Carol. That's it.

-Yeah, yeah.

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He says he doesn't want to go.

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-He's lifting that gland, isn't he?

-He is.

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But it's only for a show. No scent gland means no smell,

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-but Pepe can still give them the run-around.

-Come on, lad!

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In you go.

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No, he says, "I'm not."

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Come on, little fella.

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Finally Pepe is cornered, but then the unexpected!

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Oh, dear me, that is strong.

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Goodness me!

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It seems this skunk may have those scent glands after all.

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That is strong.

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I wonder if that one has been de-scented, actually.

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It's very strong and it's a bit ammonia-like, to be quite honest.

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-I'm not sure whether he has been de-scented.

-I don't think he has.

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I'll have to disinfect this.

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Oh, dear me! That is strong, isn't it?

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What worries me is that these are being sold now

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and if someone ends up with one of these and just takes it home in the front room

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they don't know what they're going to be expecting.

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Dennis has found a temporary home for Pepe at a zoo in Hertfordshire,

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but they're not expecting the arrival of a fully operational skunk.

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He's going in to see a vet when we get down South

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and I'll phone ahead now and let them know he's not de-scented.

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It is a relatively minor procedure, I suppose.

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Hopefully it can be done quite quickly, but I will phone ahead and warn them.

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Right, Pepe, let's get you down South, my smelly little friend!

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Be a good boy, Pepe.

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With Pepe safely placed in Dennis's van, he sets off on his 180-mile trip.

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But an hour into the journey Dennis pulls into the services to take a call from base,

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and it's not good news for Pepe.

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We've run into a few problems with the skunk.

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I've just spoken to my chief and it is against the Animal...

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the new Animal Welfare Act for us to remove the scent glands.

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No vet would legally be able to do that.

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The Animal Welfare Act of 2006 made it illegal to remove a skunk's scent glands

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as it is a cosmetic operation.

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Dennis phones the zoo, as he knows that trying

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to re-home a scented skunk is a different matter entirely.

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'Mark Amy, who we were going to...who was going to house the skunk

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'cannot accept it because of that reason.'

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It's an unusual situation for Dennis.

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He's stuck on the M1 with a North American skunk that nobody wants.

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He's got no place to go and he's running out of options.

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My chief has also spoken to London Zoo. They cannot accept it for the very same reason.

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At the moment the future looks quite bleak for the skunk and

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unless something happens in the next couple of hours

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our next option would be to put... to put it to sleep.

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With Pepe's life in the balance, Dennis gets back on the phone

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determined to find a home for an aromatic skunk.

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Yeah, yeah.

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OK. Cheers, thanks a lot. Bye.

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There has been a reprieve.

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Blackberry Farm, our re-homing centre down in Oxfordshire,

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has said this skunk can go and stay there for a couple of days

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and we will put a message out nationally across the RSPCA trying to find a place

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that will accept a skunk with these glands intact and, fingers crossed, we might have a brighter future.

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With the new destination, it's back out on the road for Dennis.

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Although unusual, some people do keep skunks as pets

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and if someone agrees to take Pepe his life may have been saved.

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-Hi, Julie.

-Hi, Dennis, are you all right?

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-Yeah, all right, yeah.

-You've got a skunk for me?

-I certainly have.

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Try to keep him calm.

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Yes, please do!

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Julie Allen manages the centre and has prepared a safe house for the new guest.

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That's quite a nice setup, Julie.

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We've had a skunk before. We've tried to set it out as best we can.

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Hopefully he'll be nice and calm in here or the rest of my small animals will smell him.

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Shall we go and put him in?

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I'm just going to open the kennel.

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Slowly but surely, Pepe begins to explore his new surroundings.

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After six months of living rough it's a whole new experience.

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Julie and Dennis are now hoping someone will take Pepe in and give him a good home.

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He is a handsome boy. We just need to find him a really good place to be re-homed in.

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A message has been put out across the society

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for a home for him, somebody who has the facilities to care for him

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-and to keep him, you know, in relative comfort.

-Yeah.

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But Pepe has only 48 hours in which to find a new owner.

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Legally we cannot touch him, legally we cannot take his scent glands away.

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Erm...we would not keep him caged like this. This is a temporary thing.

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We would not keep him caged and, you know, we would be bound to put him to sleep.

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But, fingers crossed,

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-we hope we don't have to go down that road.

-Cos you're a handsome boy.

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He's a lovely animal.

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Later, has Pepe's life on the streets left him in danger?

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He would have been living on kebabs.

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If he was carrying on eating junk food he'd have died of heart failure very, very soon, I should imagine.

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And Furball's makeover reveals the full extent of his neglect.

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And this is a particularly large one that's going all down the side of his body here.

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Catching up with a little celebrity gossip is about all my brain can cope with

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when I'm sitting in fear in the dentist's waiting room.

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

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This is Peter Cortez, one of the country's top dental surgeons.

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From Monday to Thursday he treats humans at his practice in Mayfair, but Friday is animal day,

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where he lends his expertise to help zoos and wildlife sanctuaries across the world.

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Today he's visiting Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital near Aylesbury.

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His next patient is a young badger.

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It's thought he's been hit by a car and has a badly broken jaw.

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Peter consults vet Nick Masters, checking the badger's X-ray to see the extent of the damage.

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What are we looking at here and what are the issues you're facing?

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You've got two fractures, one is quite high there, near the ear,

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and there's at least one down here.

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The muscles are very strong in these animals.

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It's a very young animal, you can tell by the highly immature teeth

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and the very thin walls on those teeth,

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so healing shouldn't be a problem, but we have to see

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if there are any teeth involved in the fracture line

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because those teeth are a perfect pathway for bacteria to get in

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and cause a major and possibly fatal infection.

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So, we'll see once the animal's down exactly what you're looking at,

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but there may be the option to do some internal wiring, that the animal won't be able to get too traumatised,

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or we may even find, with a bit of luck, that it's stable enough

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that we don't need to put any metalwork in there at all,

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which would be ideal.

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'With the badger anaesthetised, Nick and Peter can examine the damage thoroughly.

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'The initial diagnosis is poor.

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Why is it so serious, why is it so bad?

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Because you've got a piece of bone there that is not viable.

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It's infected.

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Now, if you were doing this on a human then you could probably get

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a piece of bone from the pelvis or somewhere and then graft it in,

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or you would get a piece of metal put in there,

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but I think that that piece of bone is going to die off and you're going to have this gap there.

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That's pretty serious, a gap in a badger's jaw. That's not going to be able to survive, is it?

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-We've got nothing to lose.

-No, absolutely not.

-Nothing to lose.

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'But, as the badger's prepared for surgery, things go from bad to worse

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'as more damage to its mouth is found.'

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What have you just learned?

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The upper bit of the jaw, the maxilla on the right side,

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has got a fracture as well, which we didn't pick up from the X-ray.

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It's gone all the way through.

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You can see there's a crack right across the palate, there,

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but unfortunately it goes straight through into the nose.

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If the animal was still in the wild, then it would be a goner.

0:19:100:19:14

The injury is much more serious than first thought.

0:19:140:19:17

Peter now has to decide the best course of action.

0:19:170:19:19

Well, you've only got two options, either you do nothing and the animal is euthanised,

0:19:190:19:25

or you attempt to wire it up internally, and put him on massive antibiotics.

0:19:250:19:30

And then we have to wire it by drilling through the jaw,

0:19:300:19:35

and in that process you would damage all those teeth, probably.

0:19:350:19:39

So you're either sacrificing life or sacrificing teeth,

0:19:390:19:42

because by drilling through, you're going to be damaging the teeth.

0:19:420:19:47

The team agree to give the badger a chance of life.

0:19:470:19:49

Peter starts the difficult procedure of threading wire through the animal's broken jaw.

0:19:490:19:55

So we've got to find the wire in the other one,

0:19:550:19:59

and a piece down there,

0:19:590:20:01

which might not be quite so easy.

0:20:010:20:03

It's painstaking work.

0:20:030:20:07

Nick makes sure the badger's heart and breathing are stable

0:20:070:20:10

under the anaesthetic, while Peter wires the jaw, hoping it will fuse together.

0:20:100:20:16

Well, they've already been working on this badger for over an hour, and it'll take much more time yet.

0:20:190:20:24

It really shows the dedication that they have to the animals here,

0:20:240:20:28

that they're prepared to spend all this money and all this time

0:20:280:20:32

on something that only has, probably, a 50/50 chance of survival.

0:20:320:20:37

'The intricate wire work continues for almost another hour,

0:20:370:20:41

'before Peter can start to apply the finishing touches.'

0:20:410:20:45

What stage are you at now, Peter?

0:20:450:20:48

I'm tightening up the wires.

0:20:480:20:51

Hopefully...

0:20:510:20:52

This is the most difficult one, with the risk it's going to break.

0:20:540:20:58

That's the trick? Tight enough to pull it together, but not enough to break?

0:20:590:21:03

-That is correct.

-So, how did the procedure compare with what you expected?

0:21:030:21:08

Very difficult, but I think we've done extremely well.

0:21:080:21:11

It's been a team effort, and the animal has got a very good chance of survival, I think.

0:21:110:21:16

It's pretty amazing, cos you started with a jaw in what, I don't know,

0:21:160:21:19

three or four pieces, and now it seems to move as one.

0:21:190:21:22

Well, we took a lot of big pieces out that were actually infected and loose,

0:21:220:21:26

so we've got no loose pieces except that one fragment,

0:21:260:21:29

which we used to tie everything together,

0:21:290:21:31

and just, hopefully, masses of antibiotics will keep it under control

0:21:310:21:35

till the bone can knit together.

0:21:350:21:38

Well, that was over two hours to repair a jaw that could accurately be described as mashed.

0:21:420:21:48

They were pretty pessimistic when they first started, but thought they'd give it a go anyway.

0:21:480:21:53

I sense slightly greater hope now.

0:21:530:21:54

'Within minutes, the badger starts to come round from his anaesthetic.

0:21:560:22:00

'It seems incredible, to me, the lengths the team have gone to.'

0:22:000:22:04

When you first discovered what the problems were there,

0:22:040:22:08

I thought it was quite likely that you and Nick were going to decide, "It's not worth it," but you didn't.

0:22:080:22:13

It's not a question of, "Is it worth it?"

0:22:130:22:15

You weigh things up, and you say, "Is there a...?"

0:22:150:22:18

Are you giving an animal a reasonably good chance of survival?

0:22:180:22:21

You don't want to cause it unnecessary pain and suffering,

0:22:210:22:24

sometimes it is kinder to euthanise these animals.

0:22:240:22:27

Of course, one advantage about animals,

0:22:270:22:29

is they don't whinge when they go to the dentist, like I probably would. These guys are tough.

0:22:290:22:34

The advantage of working with someone like you is you can give us feedback.

0:22:340:22:40

With these animals, you have to interpret what you see,

0:22:400:22:42

and work out what the priorities are, and what is best for the animal.

0:22:420:22:46

You, I can discuss it after, "Come back tomorrow, come back next week, we'll do a little bit more."

0:22:460:22:51

No, we've got to get it right, first time, every time.

0:22:510:22:54

And, thanks to Peter and his team, this badger will have another shot at life,

0:22:540:22:59

and will hopefully make it back to the wild.

0:22:590:23:02

Later, Pepe the skunk gets lucky, with a new home and some familiar faces.

0:23:050:23:12

The least I can hope for is that he just learns to trust us, and comes out when we're about.

0:23:120:23:16

If we can get him like our other skunks, it will be fantastic.

0:23:160:23:19

Now, we're back to the story of Furball, the elderly feline.

0:23:230:23:26

The cat was rescued from a house overrun with pets.

0:23:260:23:30

There were dogs, birds, gerbils, and even a gecko.

0:23:300:23:33

It was clear the owner was struggling to cope,

0:23:330:23:37

so Furball was taken away to be found a new home,

0:23:370:23:40

but first, he needs to see the vet.

0:23:400:23:42

Poor old Furball is not looking his best at the moment.

0:23:460:23:50

With overgrown and matted fur, he's in desperate need of some TLC.

0:23:500:23:54

But help is at hand.

0:23:560:23:57

RSPCA inspector Becky Griffiths is determined to give Furball a second chance.

0:23:570:24:02

-Hiya.

-She's brought him to the animal clinic, where vet James Yates

0:24:020:24:07

will give him a full health check, and tackle his tangled mane.

0:24:070:24:11

I've been to a house with numerous animals.

0:24:110:24:16

Two German shepherds, seven pups, this cat, two gerbils and a gecko.

0:24:160:24:22

This cat I was particularly concerned about - I found it outside,

0:24:220:24:26

it's obviously been a bit neglected outside, it's completely matted.

0:24:260:24:30

-Do you know how old?

-11 years old, and he's called Furball.

0:24:300:24:33

-Furball.

-Which he seems to have developed into.

-Yes.

0:24:330:24:36

I'll just check his chest to make sure that's OK.

0:24:360:24:38

That sounds all right. His heart sounds fine.

0:24:400:24:43

His eyes look fairly OK. There's little bit of gunk. He's a bit run down.

0:24:430:24:47

Furball's given a clean bill of health, but James is concerned about the state of his coat.

0:24:470:24:52

He's got a little matt behind there,

0:24:520:24:54

and then, sort of, that matt there, and some around there.

0:24:540:24:57

And he's got that big huge wedge along there.

0:24:570:24:59

Yeah. We might be able to get those matts off just clipping consciously.

0:24:590:25:04

But otherwise he might need an anaesthetic, if they're too sore to take them off him.

0:25:040:25:08

We do have quite a lot of cats in at the moment,

0:25:080:25:11

so it will decide how suitable for a re-homing he is,

0:25:110:25:15

-though he is very nice.

-He is a nice old puss.

-Yes.

0:25:150:25:18

Everyone agrees that Furball is good-natured, and would make a lovely family pet.

0:25:200:25:24

We don't know what's going to happen yet. I've put him in at the clinic.

0:25:250:25:29

Unfortunately, they are absolutely packed full of cats.

0:25:290:25:32

It might be due to space and the fact that he is an older cat,

0:25:320:25:35

that he might have to be put to sleep, which is a shame.

0:25:350:25:38

I have this decision to make when I visit a house.

0:25:380:25:40

Do I leave them in situ where he might not get the care he needs, or do I bring him in?

0:25:400:25:44

Hopefully, we can have a space for him, but he might be put to sleep.

0:25:440:25:48

It's quite hard, as an inspector. It's something you have to deal with.

0:25:480:25:52

For now, Furball is left to get used to his new surroundings.

0:25:530:25:57

In a few hours' time, he'll be given that much-needed haircut.

0:25:570:26:00

Becky's work continues.

0:26:040:26:06

She's just been told about another cat that needs her help.

0:26:060:26:10

We've got an abandoned cat at this address. The owners have been evicted.

0:26:110:26:15

There's a great big metal door on the flat, and the cat is basically hanging about outside.

0:26:150:26:19

The neighbours have been feeding it.

0:26:190:26:21

I'm going to pick up the cat, check that it's healthy,

0:26:210:26:25

perhaps leave a notice up for the owners, where to contact,

0:26:250:26:30

and try and put the cat somewhere.

0:26:300:26:33

Is that the cat?

0:26:350:26:36

Becky's met by Tina Hale, who found the cat.

0:26:360:26:40

She's worried he may have some health problems.

0:26:400:26:42

-Hello, puss.

-If you look at his back end, he's got loads of sores and stuff.

0:26:420:26:47

Yeah, that's a flea allergy, yeah.

0:26:470:26:49

It's not too bad, actually.

0:26:510:26:53

-He likes you.

-He likes everyone.

0:26:550:26:57

-Is he really friendly?

-Yeah.

0:26:570:26:58

Do you know how old he is, or anything like that?

0:26:580:27:01

I'd say about a couple of years old.

0:27:010:27:02

-Quite young, isn't he?

-Yeah.

-What a friendly little pussycat, he's lovely.

0:27:020:27:06

Do you know his name or anything?

0:27:060:27:08

-Marley.

-Sorry?

-Marley.

0:27:080:27:10

Marley, as in Bob, Bob Marley?

0:27:100:27:12

Jammin'!

0:27:120:27:13

In the unlikely event of the owners coming back for Marley, Becky leaves details of how to contact her.

0:27:150:27:22

It is a really common problem. If they phone us in advance and ask for help,

0:27:220:27:26

we could arrange for spaces to help them out with their animals.

0:27:260:27:29

Unfortunately, they leave everything to the last minute,

0:27:290:27:32

we get called on the day, or after the event, and we have to pick up the pieces.

0:27:320:27:37

Becky now has to get Marley to a vet to find out if being abandoned has caused him any health problems.

0:27:370:27:43

-Hiya.

-Hi, Becky.

0:27:430:27:44

Vet Damian Puccini will now decide if Marley can be re-homed.

0:27:440:27:48

He's got a mild flea allergy which might even be healing up, actually, to tell the truth.

0:27:480:27:53

-He seems a very friendly type.

-He is, he's lovely.

-Yeah.

0:27:530:27:57

He's obviously lost a little bit of hair, hasn't he, along the back of his neck and his back.

0:27:570:28:02

He's got a very mild degree of gingivitis,

0:28:020:28:07

a little bit of inflammation of his gums, but otherwise fine.

0:28:070:28:10

They look pretty clean. We'll just check for mites.

0:28:100:28:13

Yeah, they're both clear, so that's good.

0:28:130:28:16

Marley's given the all-clear, and seems to be quite happy to be finally getting some attention.

0:28:160:28:21

He looks like a relatively young cat, I'm guessing sort of two, three years old.

0:28:210:28:25

He seems a very nice-natured cat. Hopefully, we should be able to find him a home.

0:28:250:28:29

This is the bit I love about my job, giving him a cuddle.

0:28:290:28:33

Marley's owners now have seven days in which to come back for him.

0:28:350:28:38

If they don't, he'll be on the lookout for a new family.

0:28:380:28:42

On the other side of the clinic, the time has come for Furball to have his much-needed makeover.

0:28:440:28:50

Hello, sweetheart. Good cat.

0:28:500:28:54

-There we go.

-Vet nurse Lucy Sverring is in charge of his new look,

0:28:540:28:58

and hopes it will make him feel a lot better.

0:28:580:29:01

He's got quite a lot of big, matted areas of fur on him,

0:29:030:29:08

so we're just going to clip some of them off, just to try and make him a little bit more comfortable.

0:29:080:29:13

He is quite overweight, so I think he probably is struggling to groom himself around the back, as well.

0:29:150:29:21

And as Lucy trims away his fur, she's shocked at how badly matted it's become.

0:29:210:29:26

It's going to make him feel a lot more comfortable.

0:29:260:29:29

I mean, if you could imagine having that stuck to you, that's going to be quite itchy and irritating.

0:29:290:29:34

He has got signs of fleas, so he's going to have a lot of fleas and that crawling around in there.

0:29:340:29:39

It's just going to get a little bit hot, it's not going to be that comfortable.

0:29:390:29:44

He's being ever so well-behaved, aren't you, sweetheart?

0:29:440:29:47

She says!

0:29:480:29:50

Despite being a little uncomfortable at times, Furball's good nature shines through.

0:29:530:29:58

This is a particularly large one, that's going all down the side of his body here.

0:29:580:30:03

It's clear he'll make someone a lovely pet.

0:30:030:30:06

After saying goodbye to his matted mane, Furball heads to the cattery.

0:30:090:30:14

He joins Marley and all the other moggies hoping to catch the eye of a new owner.

0:30:140:30:19

But the competition is fierce, and while the youthful Marley stands a good chance,

0:30:210:30:26

being 11 years old, Furball could struggle.

0:30:260:30:30

Coming up, one down, 13 to go.

0:30:350:30:39

Will Furball's old owner have listened to Becky's advice?

0:30:390:30:42

I'm hoping she would have sorted things out.

0:30:420:30:45

You always live in hope.

0:30:450:30:47

Now, let's catch up with Pepe the skunk, found wandering the streets of West Yorkshire.

0:30:500:30:56

Everyone thought Pepe had his scent glands removed so he could easily be re-homed,

0:30:560:31:01

but when RSPCA officer Dennis Lovell arrived to take him away,

0:31:010:31:05

he got an unpleasant surprise.

0:31:050:31:08

Pepe was in fact a fully-operational skunk.

0:31:080:31:11

Dennis was left with a problem.

0:31:110:31:13

The original home couldn't take him,

0:31:130:31:15

and if a new owner couldn't be found, Pepe's future looked bleak.

0:31:150:31:20

North Devon, and this is home of Ray Baker, keeper of exotic pets.

0:31:290:31:35

He has snakes, lizards, fish, and a rather bullied black Labrador

0:31:360:31:39

called Blaze, who gets a hard time from five domesticated skunks.

0:31:390:31:45

Make that six - it's now Pepe's new home, too!

0:31:450:31:49

We got a call from a friend of ours, Richard, who's quite close with a couple of the RSPCA inspectors,

0:31:510:31:56

and said that Pepe was in dire need of a home, and were we interested?

0:31:560:32:01

I said, "Yeah, where is he? I'll go and get him tonight."

0:32:010:32:04

That was to Blackberry Farm, to Oxford, but I'd have driven to Scotland for him.

0:32:040:32:08

We'd have gone anywhere. They're fantastic animals, and I wouldn't have seen him destroyed.

0:32:080:32:13

Pepe has been given a room of his own, to give him time to get used to his new home and family,

0:32:130:32:19

but Ray is worried that Pepe is overweight.

0:32:190:32:22

It seems that during his six months on the streets, he'd been surviving on a diet of junk food.

0:32:220:32:28

He would have been living on kebabs, throwaway junk.

0:32:280:32:31

We're a very untidy species ourselves.

0:32:310:32:33

We throw so much food away.

0:32:330:32:34

He'd have found no problems at all getting into bins and just basically feeding on whatever he wanted.

0:32:340:32:39

If he was carrying on eating junk food, he'd have...

0:32:390:32:43

Well, he'd have died of heart failure very, very soon, I should imagine.

0:32:430:32:48

Some of this food looks good enough for us to eat, but that can't be said about all of it.

0:32:480:32:53

Now he's getting a nice mixture of fresh veg.

0:32:530:32:55

We've got some corn, sweet potato, courgette, cauliflower.

0:32:550:33:00

He's going to have some mealworms, because they're omnivorous, they like to... They like their insects.

0:33:000:33:05

We feed them... Feed the adults twice a day,

0:33:050:33:08

youngsters get fed three times a day, but there's always food down on the floor for them.

0:33:080:33:12

You know, we'll pack the bowl out.

0:33:120:33:14

They don't eat that much during the day, more in the evening.

0:33:140:33:17

There's always water, they do drink.

0:33:170:33:19

In the wild they're never more than, sort of, a kilometre away from a water source and that.

0:33:190:33:25

Hello, Pepe. Dinner time, mate.

0:33:250:33:27

Hello. Are you going to come out for your dinner, mate?

0:33:280:33:31

Come on, then.

0:33:310:33:33

While delivering dinner, Ray has to be careful not to get squirted, but he's used to rearing scented skunks.

0:33:330:33:40

Two of his other pets have their scent glands intact.

0:33:400:33:43

As they've become used to people, they're now unlikely to spray.

0:33:430:33:47

Instead, they just raise their tails as a threat, which is good news for Ray.

0:33:470:33:51

It's a really strong smell of garlic and onions, with a hint of burnt electricals,

0:33:510:33:56

burnt rubber in it, and it does shut your nose down.

0:33:560:33:59

You stop smelling it after a very short while because it...

0:33:590:34:02

I don't know whether it literally burns, but it just shuts your nose down.

0:34:020:34:06

And it lingers for a long time.

0:34:060:34:09

If you get sprayed in your clothes,

0:34:090:34:11

throw them away, because you won't be able to wash it out.

0:34:110:34:14

Ray is trying to get Pepe used to people...

0:34:140:34:17

-Come on, trouble.

-.. so he doesn't feel scared, and the first signs are good.

0:34:170:34:21

He's slowly getting better. He's not as stompy,

0:34:210:34:25

he doesn't show his backside to us as much as he used to.

0:34:250:34:29

He's a lot better than he was.

0:34:290:34:31

If we can get him like our others, it'd be fantastic.

0:34:310:34:34

Ray's other skunks have a whale of a time here.

0:34:350:34:39

Which is more than can be said for Blaze...

0:34:410:34:45

Blaze, be good.

0:34:450:34:46

..who rarely gets a moment's peace.

0:34:460:34:49

We've only been keeping skunks for three years, and as far as

0:34:530:34:57

I'm aware, up until recently there's only ever been sort of 300, 400 skunks in the UK.

0:34:570:35:01

They're starting to become more popular.

0:35:010:35:04

I think there is going to be more in the future coming out and because

0:35:040:35:08

you can't de-scent them, there will e a problem with re-homing.

0:35:080:35:11

But Pepe's one of the lucky ones.

0:35:110:35:13

Scent glands intact, he's been given a second chance.

0:35:130:35:17

Ray's taken him into his heart and will do anything to make sure he settles in.

0:35:170:35:21

If he decides that he doesn't want to be a house skunk and he's not happy living in a house,

0:35:210:35:26

we'll build a nice big enclosure out in the garden for him and he can go and live out there.

0:35:260:35:31

The least I can hope for is the fact that he just learns to trust us and comes out when we're about.

0:35:310:35:37

They're worth getting passionate about.

0:35:370:35:40

It'll take a while for Ray to earn Pepe's trust, but with his owner determined to make it work,

0:35:400:35:45

this is one skunk who's come up smelling of roses.

0:35:450:35:50

Earlier, we saw RSPCA officer Becky Griffiths rescue two neglected cats.

0:35:540:36:00

Both the abandoned youngster Marley and the older feline called Furball have been taken to a local cattery,

0:36:000:36:06

where they're looking for new owners.

0:36:060:36:09

Furball was taken from a family who were having difficulties

0:36:090:36:12

caring for the huge number of animals in their house.

0:36:120:36:15

We catch up with Becky as she makes an unannounced visit to the property.

0:36:150:36:19

On her last visit to the property, Becky was concerned that the owner

0:36:270:36:31

was struggling to care for such a large number of pets.

0:36:310:36:34

None of the animals had any water, and she had six puppies, two adult dogs,

0:36:360:36:42

a gerbil, a cockatiel and a lizard.

0:36:420:36:45

I'm hoping she would have sorted things out.

0:36:450:36:47

You always live in hope.

0:36:470:36:49

-Hiya. It's me again, I'm afraid.

-Come in.

-Is it all right to come in?

0:36:520:36:55

If this owner hasn't followed the advice, she could risk losing even more of her pets.

0:36:550:37:00

DOGS BARK

0:37:000:37:02

But to Becky's surprise, first impressions look good.

0:37:020:37:06

So, this is the female one?

0:37:060:37:08

Yeah? That's OK. What's her name again?

0:37:090:37:12

-Tia.

-Tia.

0:37:120:37:13

She's put on loads of weight, fantastic, and I notice you've got rid of some of the puppies, so...

0:37:130:37:18

-Yeah.

-So that's helped her put on weight as well, yeah?

0:37:180:37:21

-Plus the fact we've wormed her out, as well.

-All right, then.

0:37:210:37:24

-The cockatiel.

-He's got more water.

0:37:240:37:26

He's got... He's got food and water.

0:37:260:37:29

-Fantastic. So, have you got a bit more of a routine now?

-Yes.

0:37:290:37:32

You get up in the morning and check through them?

0:37:320:37:35

Well, the routine is, I get the kids to school, I go down to

0:37:350:37:38

the shop, get the dogs' food, put fresh water down for the dogs, then they're fed straightaway.

0:37:380:37:43

Can I just stick my head into the dog's room to check that he's got his water?

0:37:430:37:46

-Yeah.

-Thank you. Fantastic.

0:37:460:37:49

-Brilliant. And the other two pups, have they got a home to go to?

-Yeah.

0:37:490:37:52

They have? OK. Hello, little one.

0:37:520:37:55

Hello, you're lovely. It's a lot better.

0:37:550:37:57

Fantastic. So, if you keep it up, you won't get any more phone calls, and then I'll be off your back then.

0:37:570:38:03

-No, that's fine.

-OK. Brilliant.

0:38:030:38:05

Having so many pets needs an organised approach...

0:38:050:38:08

-Cheers, then, bye.

-Thank you. Bye.

0:38:080:38:11

..and thankfully this owner now has a good routine that helps her deal with their every need.

0:38:110:38:17

It's a lot better. She's got rid of some of the puppies.

0:38:170:38:19

The female adult dog has put on some weight.

0:38:190:38:22

The male adult dog is being treated, and it's re-grown its hair.

0:38:220:38:27

The bird had some water, the gerbil had some water.

0:38:270:38:30

She seems to be sorting things out.

0:38:300:38:32

Hopefully, you know, she'll keep that up.

0:38:320:38:35

Hopefully I won't get another phone call about her and I won't have to go back there again.

0:38:350:38:40

Three weeks have passed since Becky picked up

0:38:450:38:48

the black cat that had been abandoned on the Bristol estate.

0:38:480:38:51

His owner never did come back for him, so he was put up for adoption.

0:38:520:38:56

But just two days later, he was snapped up.

0:38:560:39:01

Meet Marley's new family, Helen, Neil and their two sons, Finn and Lewis.

0:39:020:39:08

And Marley also has a new name - Bertie.

0:39:100:39:14

It's a bit too tricky, that is.

0:39:140:39:17

What about Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?

0:39:170:39:20

I've always liked cats, and our other cat got run over... Two years ago or something?

0:39:200:39:25

-Yeah, 2006.

-He got run over.

0:39:250:39:27

So we wanted another cat, and I finally persuaded Neil to get a cat, so we got Bertie.

0:39:270:39:32

Now we've got a cat!

0:39:320:39:34

I went along on my own first.

0:39:340:39:37

I thought kind of like a male tomcat that was friendly was probably

0:39:370:39:41

the best with children, because sometimes the female cats seem a bit scratchy with kids.

0:39:410:39:46

And so the woman there immediately said Bertie's brilliant, he'd be fine with children.

0:39:460:39:53

I think the very first night the kids had a sleepover, and so

0:39:530:39:58

there was, I think, four boys bouncing on the bed in the bedroom, and Bertie

0:39:580:40:02

right in the middle purring away as the kids leapt off the beds, so I think just sort of immediately

0:40:020:40:08

you think, "Oh, he's quite chilled with children and he's not going to be too stressed."

0:40:080:40:12

He's a very friendly puss.

0:40:120:40:15

Like fishing!

0:40:150:40:17

With one cat happily settled in, it's now just Furball who's desperate for a new home.

0:40:190:40:24

The ginger tom was originally taken from the family overrun with animals.

0:40:240:40:30

He's been at the cattery for over five weeks,

0:40:300:40:33

but space is limited here.

0:40:330:40:35

Furball can't stay forever.

0:40:350:40:37

There he is.

0:40:430:40:45

But just as things seemed hopeless, he was spotted by Kieron and Verity Pitts.

0:40:450:40:49

We've already chipped him, so he's all ready to go.

0:40:490:40:52

Oh, fantastic.

0:40:520:40:54

They've been looking for an older cat, and Furball fits the bill perfectly.

0:40:550:41:00

If you just pop it back on the floor, that would be great.

0:41:000:41:03

So today they're taking him home.

0:41:030:41:05

Oh, it's fantastic. It's great to see him looking so well and we just can't wait to get him home, really.

0:41:050:41:12

-OK?

-Thanks ever so much.

-Cheers.

-Cheers.

0:41:120:41:14

Being old, the odds of finding a new home were firmly

0:41:140:41:18

stacked against Furball, but now he can look forward to enjoying his twilight years in comfort.

0:41:180:41:24

Well, I've always loved cats.

0:41:240:41:26

I've always had cats, really enjoyed having them, and then our last cat died in January,

0:41:260:41:31

so we thought we'd wait until after the wedding until we got a new one.

0:41:310:41:35

We were looking for an older cat, really, and as soon as we saw Furball we just fell in love with him.

0:41:350:41:40

Are you coming out?

0:41:400:41:42

Straight back in!

0:41:460:41:47

Considering what he's gone through,

0:41:470:41:50

he seems a remarkably relaxed cat, and, you know, he's extremely affectionate.

0:41:500:41:54

In his autumn years it's good for a cat

0:41:540:41:56

to have a nice place to sort of curl up and watch the world go by.

0:41:560:41:59

I think it's just

0:41:590:42:01

a mark of his character that he's so friendly after all he's been through.

0:42:010:42:05

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

0:42:140:42:20

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

0:42:200:42:26

They're the people we meet on Animal 24:7.

0:42:260:42:29

Next time, the police are called to four neglected dogs...

0:42:320:42:37

I'll be looking at getting the animals seized.

0:42:370:42:39

We'll have a vet here when you arrive.

0:42:390:42:41

..Ozzie the bad-tempered lizard who needs a new owner...

0:42:410:42:45

-On a scale of most aggressive iguanas...

-I've got his tail.

0:42:450:42:49

Yeah, I'm not worried about the tail, it's the legs.

0:42:490:42:52

..and, on the move, the birds evicted from their upmarket home.

0:42:520:42:55

We're going to do some duck herding.

0:42:550:42:58

That sounds suspiciously like I'm going to be made to look like a fool!

0:42:580:43:02

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:090:43:11

E-mail [email protected]

0:43:110:43:13

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.