Episode 13 Animal 24:7


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Episode 13

Presenter Tom Heap is on the trail of the whale lost in the city of Glasgow. RSPCA Inspector Clare Ponsford cracks down on animals being kept on high rise balconies.


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Britain's animals are under threat.

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All too often our wildlife and domestic pets

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are the victims of cruelty, persecution and neglect.

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Fighting to save them is a dedicated band of people

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

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This is Animal 24:7.

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Today on Animal 24:7...

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We're calling the police.

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Rescue for the skinny dog locked in a high-rise prison.

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There's still no reply.

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I've been upstairs and looked down and the dog's collapsed on the balcony. It's a bag of bones.

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Horses for courses -

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a tough handicap for these golfers.

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The owners obviously aren't used to handling them because they can't even get anywhere near them.

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And I join the search for a whale in the city centre.

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There it is, right by behind my shoulder!

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London is one of the world's most densely populated cities

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and in amongst the high-rise blocks and council estates,

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problems can often come to a head.

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It's also where RSPCA inspectors often find their most challenging cases.

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For millions of people who live in the concrete tower blocks of Britain

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the balconies can be a window to the outside world.

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DOGS BARK

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But sadly, for some pets, they can also be lonely prisons.

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In the East End of London, RSPCA inspector Claire Ponsford is following up the latest allegation.

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I've had a call about a dog that's living in very bad conditions,

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and the dog itself is supposed to be in quite a bad state, at one of these flats here in this block.

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But although there's a dog reported to be living here there's no-one at home.

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Hello?

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It's the RSPCA.

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It's filthy dirty,

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full of rubbish and dirt and mess.

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It doesn't look like anybody's living here except this is how the property was described to me, so...

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we know that there's supposed to be a young family living here with quite a...

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a dog in quite bad condition, but I can't see a dog.

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With no access to the flat, Claire tries a different approach.

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This is the floor above, so I'm hoping that I can see down onto the balcony.

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If I can see the dog down there then I'll ask the police to come round and have a look.

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Luckily, the neighbours are in and Claire heads straight for a high vantage point.

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What she sees below confirms her worst fears.

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OK, we're calling the police.

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The dog is emaciated and seems to have collapsed.

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Claire needs to get access to the flat as quickly as possible.

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It's a bag of bones.

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I'm contacting the police now and see if I can get someone to assist me with getting into the property.

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The police have the power to break in and rescue the dog.

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Hello, could I speak to DS O'Sullivan, please?

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Claire has no idea how long the dog has been left alone or when it last had something to eat.

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There's still no reply. I've been to the property upstairs

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and looked down and the dog's collapsed on the balcony.

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The police are on their way.

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While she waits, Claire makes the van more comfortable.

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I'm just getting a kennel ready in the van for this dog

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because from what I've seen, it's not in good condition.

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I want it to have quite a comfortable ride to the veterinary surgeon.

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I have alerted the surgeon that we're on our way.

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15 minutes later, the police arrive.

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And inside the tower block they force their way into the flat.

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DOOR BREAKING

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That's it. Nearly there.

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Now Claire can finally get to the dog.

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DOOR BANGS

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Police!

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Right, I'm just going to get this dog out of here.

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-As she approaches the door...

-Hello, mate!

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The dog suddenly springs to life and seems delighted to finally have some company.

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Quite bouncy, which is good because he wasn't earlier.

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Hello. He's quite a nice dog, actually, but the faeces and everything out here is unreal.

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She's desperate to get out.

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Hello! Hello! Hello!

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And as Claire unlocks the door it's clear why.

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Oh, did you go straight in the kitchen and there wasn't anything to eat?

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This dog is dangerously skinny and she's starving.

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She frantically begins scavenging the flat for any scraps of food.

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So hungry. Well, I think she's just starving now.

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Claire tries to calm her down but she's far too distracted.

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She's so hungry. Well...

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Oh, don't eat that, that's rotten chicken, mate!

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Claire is treating this as a cruelty case and the dog's owner may go to court.

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I'm pleased it looks a bit happier than it did when I first looked over the balcony.

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She gathers evidence of how the dog was left.

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The balcony's absolutely covered in faeces.

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There's nothing out here for the dog really to lie on.

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There's no water, broken bowls, rubbish.

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It's just unbelievable.

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Good girl, I'm coming.

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The priority now is to get this pet to the vet's.

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She needs a full health check and some food to give her the best chance of making a full recovery.

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Come on, there's a good girl. She's very thin, you know, she's still...

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a bit...a bit size zero at the back there, but...

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she's quite lively, but probably just because she's really hungry.

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To see her actively rooting through dirty, disgusting old binbags in the property looking for food...

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It's very nervous on a lead.

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It's just quite disturbing and it's just really unnecessary.

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It makes me quite angry that people have these animals and just cannot be bothered to look after them properly.

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Later...

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Now that's a hungry dog. That's a dog that's not eaten for a while.

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She's very hungry.

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And the huge operation to find an elusive whale lost in the city.

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The fact that we can't see or hear it at the moment is good news for you - he's not in trouble tonight.

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We'll keep our fingers crossed that it's managed

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to turn itself around and head back out to open sea.

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Every once in a while a sporting event comes to

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a juddering halt because an animal is loose on the pitch.

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Test matches at the Oval, internationals at Wembley

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have both suffered because birds, dogs or cattle are out of control,

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but for one RSPCA inspector, the problem is a whole different ballgame.

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Some people like nothing more than a quiet round of golf.

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But for this group teeing off in Wigan, the handicap was a bit bigger than they would have planned.

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These horses have been on the fairways for two days.

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Now RSPCA inspector Lisa Lupson has been called in to round them up.

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So, I need to just go and assess the condition, see if there's any

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injuries or marks on them and then we'll...

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We'll nip back to the vehicle and just make a few enquiries.

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As well as Lisa's concerns over the state of the horses,

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back at the clubhouse members are worried about the damage being done to the course.

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They were frightened, and galloped across them and the hooves have dug quite a few divots in the green,

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so it'll a job to rectify them.

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With a full 18 holes available for the horses to graze on, Lisa's no chance of catching them on her own.

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But she does know the owner.

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She calls him and tells him he must come and help catch his runaway horses straight away.

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He's had plenty of warnings. He's had dealings with us before about other horses in a different area.

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This is the second time in the space of a week that horses have escaped this field.

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He doesn't care about his horses. If he's putting them

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in a field where they aren't secure he doesn't care about them.

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With balls still flying as the golfers continue to drive...

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You can get them to smell the ginger biscuits.

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..Lisa tries to coax the horses to safety with a few treats.

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Well, the fact that we're trying to entice them with ginger biscuits

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normally entices any horse and it's not even attracting these.

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They're just running away from us, they're not interested.

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They're obviously quite scared and timid which just shows me that they're not handled very well.

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We need to just wait for the owner and I'm absolutely 100% sure he'll

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come because he'll be scared to death that we'll take them

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and he doesn't want to get into any trouble.

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And, sure enough, a few minutes later the owner does turn up

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with some helpers.

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We meet again.

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But there's an immediate stand-off.

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As soon as he sees Lisa and our cameras he makes off, leaving his friends to catch the horses.

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The round-up begins with the horses trampling all over the greens.

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Frightened, but fortunately sticking together,

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the ponies are ushered towards the rough...

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..but they're not out of danger yet.

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That is a steep bank in those woods.

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My worry is that they've chased them down there, it's obviously thick woodland, so trying to confine them

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now is going to be really hard work and if it's steep banking there's the potential they could slip and fall.

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Lisa has two problems on her hands.

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She wants the horses caught, but also wants to confront the owner.

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But both are avoiding her.

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I think they're going to walk them back to where they've come from,

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which means they might not even come back out of here.

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The horses break cover at the other end of the fairway.

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Lisa hitches a ride to get there as soon as she can.

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The owners obviously aren't used to handling them because they can't even

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get anywhere near them, so my point is proved.

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But before she gets a chance to speak to the owner, the horses

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vanish off her radar again and go into the thick of the woods.

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-Apparently it's all fenced off.

-There's a brook there. They can't...

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-They can't get through the fence unless they bulldoze their way through.

-Unless they jump.

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All that's branched off as well, so...they really can't get through, you know?

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-We might see them.

-They could do some damage to themselves.

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Eventually Lisa spots them in the distance.

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Where are you taking them?

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They've finally been caught and are being quickly led away from Lisa.

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Don't take them back to Adlington because I'm going there now.

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He's got 24 hours to shift them.

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She may be unable to confront him face to face, but Lisa's not prepared to let the owner get away.

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It's not the end for us.

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I'm going to speak to the owner.

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I want to give him a warning notice.

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I want to get these horses moved out of this field that he's got them in.

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It's not secure. It's causing havoc for everybody who lives in the local area.

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The drama may be at an end here for now, but Lisa knows this won't be

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the last time she has dealings with this owner and his runaway horses.

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Coming up, rescue for two tiny kittens dumped in a box.

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Obviously nervous, shaking a bit, so if I pop it in the cage.

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Hey, look who it is!

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And a testing time for Olga, the abandoned dog.

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Dogs that have been starved for some time

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can become possessive of food, so it's an interesting test

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to sort of remove the food bowl while it's eating and see what kind of reaction you get.

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Marine mammals like whales and dolphins frequently visit Britain's estuaries and river mouths,

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but sometimes they get lost and just head a bit too far upstream.

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In Scotland, one such visitor has made a wrong turn and has taken an unexpected city break.

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The River Clyde in the heart of Glasgow and Strathclyde Police Marine Unit

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is searching for something in the water.

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The officers on board are used to searching this river, but today's operation is out of the ordinary.

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They're on the lookout for a whale.

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Police Wildlife Crime Officer Craig Borthwick is co-ordinating the search.

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How long has this story been going on from your point of view and what have you been up to?

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Well, I got the call yesterday at five o'clock to say that there had

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been a sighting of a marine mammal in the water.

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People had phoned up thinking there was a dolphin in the water.

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So we've been watching this creature swimming up and down the Clyde.

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But Craig soon realised the creature wasn't a dolphin.

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It's a northern bottlenosed whale and it's a long way from home.

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The pattern of swimming seems to suggest that it's got itself quite well and truly lost.

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They're deep diving whales. Normally you'd find them in the Atlantic Ocean,

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so to find them this far up into the centre of the Clyde is a bit worrying.

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Despite the team's attempts to redirect the whale towards the sea,

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it keeps swimming back upstream and this is a major concern.

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We don't know why it's here.

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Often when they come up this far and so far out of their habitat, it's because they're ill already.

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So, there's a possibility that that's caused the problem, it's just got lost.

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Making its way own out,

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it's extremely remote.

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The chance to spot such an unusual creature is pulling in the crowds,

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but it's not an easy animal to track.

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British Divers' marine vet Cameron MacPherson has been trying to assess its condition for several hours.

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I had my first view of it about half an hour or so ago now

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for about half a second each time as it was coming up close enough for any meaningful view of it.

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Can you tell in that time if it's young or old, if it's looking fat or thin, any of those things?

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It's certainly looking thin, I think. It isn't fat from what I've seen of it.

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That would concern me if it is underweight because it normally lives in the Atlantic Ocean,

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diving deep down into trenches to feed off squid.

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Clearly not going to be able to be feeding in the Clyde, unfortunately,

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so probably hasn't eaten for quite some time, therefore it's going to be losing weight,

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getting dehydrated as well because they get a lot of their water from the food that they eat.

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Last night the whale beached during low tide, but eventually it did manage to free itself.

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In two hours there will be another low tide and the team is worried the whale will beach again.

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For now though, there is nothing we can do but sit and wait.

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This afternoon, members of the rescue team and ourselves have been

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scouring the surface of the Clyde without seeing anything.

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There it is, right behind my shoulder!

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The whale has finally reappeared.

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Now, the thing is, the tide's going down so it's got less and less water

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to swim in all the time and that was the place that it beached yesterday evening.

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The whale is staying above the water longer than ever before.

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It's a chance the team can't afford to miss.

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We head out on the boat to try and take a closer look and guide it back to sea.

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-In the last hour or so it seems to have been surfacing a lot more regularly here.

-Yes, it's...

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It could be because the water depth is dropping so it's got less water to actually swim around in.

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It can't follow its pattern of taking a couple of surface breaths

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-and going down for an extended period of time.

-There, there!

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The whale's regular appearances are attracting more spectators,

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but for Cameron this sighting doesn't bode well.

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I feel a bit guilty getting excited about seeing it, all these people here are seeing it and, you know,

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it's interesting in one way, but at the same time it's so sad.

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-I don't get excited. I'd rather see it in the Atlantic. I'd be much...

-Yeah, you'd rather not see it.

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Yeah, I'd be much more excited about seeing it there. Here it just makes me nervous and sad.

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But just as quickly as it appeared,

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the whale descends back into the murky grey depths of the Clyde.

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All we can do now is head back to the banks to see if the whale beaches again.

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It does feel really strange that under the water here is an animal

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that should be in the North Atlantic virtually up to the Arctic, and yet it's here in the heart of the city,

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where people are stopping on their way home in rush hour just to take a little glance down at the river.

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It's nine o'clock in the evening and the tide is at its lowest.

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Extra helpers have now been drafted in.

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If the animal beaches, every available hand will be needed.

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But the whale hasn't been spotted for several hours now.

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This is the longest period of time without a sighting.

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It could mean the whale has found its way back to sea,

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but it could also mean the whale is stranded somewhere on the river.

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-It's pretty shallow here then, is it?

-Yes, aye, very shallow.

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We're probably in the deepest part just now.

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-So, we're really searching for it now to see where it is.

-We are indeed.

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We're looking to see if we can see it stranded on any of these sandbanks which have now appeared.

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Earlier on, we were looking at it in the Clyde the water was a lot higher,

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a good four or five metres higher than it is just now, so all this was covered and the whale could move

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in this, but obviously we're now at the stage where the water is really, really shallow.

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'Finding the whale in daylight was difficult, but at night it's proving impossible.'

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ON RADIO: 'Negative. There hasn't been a sighting, but the vet...'

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'Our search downstream takes us towards deeper water, but there's still no sign of the whale.'

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So, the fact that we can't see or hear at the moment

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is good news for you - at least he was not in trouble tonight.

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-Yeah, it is.

-So far.

-It is good news, so it's like anything else -

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keep fingers crossed it's managed to turn itself around and head back out to open sea.

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'With no sightings downstream,

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'we head back to the location where the whale beached before.

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'Once again, we draw a blank.'

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Would you rather see it or rather not this evening?

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It's... It's a tough question.

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Ideally, obviously you'd rather see it... Not see it here,

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and it's got out, but the problem is that the state of it,

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the condition of it, the fact it's been here so long and the manner

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in which it's been swimming up and down there's concern for its welfare now.

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-So, it becomes a kind of an animal welfare issue as well.

-'It's a Catch-22 situation.

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'Failing to find the whale could mean it's safe,

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'but it could also be seriously ill in the river's deeper channels.'

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'If we take a run up towards the parapet

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'and see if we can come across it, over.'

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We've gone right down as far as the Squinty Bridge,

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-turned and came back so we've gone beyond the Kingston Bridge.

-Right.

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But again the sandbanks and all there, we would see it.

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-So, best case scenario it's got into the channel and it's... It's doing its own thing.

-Yeah.

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-It's nice to be wrong.

-Yes, well, aye.

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It's almost midnight. The search has been extensive,

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but there's no sign of the whale. The operation is called off.

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It's a bit frustrating for them and for us that there's no definite end or closure to this story,

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but when dealing with something as rare as a bottlenosed whale,

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there's no reason why it should be certain.

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There is no rule book for it to go by, no reason why it should be clear cut.

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Later, two abandoned kittens pass their medical.

0:21:180:21:22

-Very good. Nice healthy kittens.

-It's unusual for such healthy kittens to have been dumped.

0:21:220:21:27

Now we're back with Inspector Claire Ponsford in the East End of London.

0:21:310:21:36

Earlier, Claire rescued an emaciated dog from a flat in the city.

0:21:360:21:40

The dog was so hungry she was scavenging in the bins for scraps of food.

0:21:400:21:44

Now it's time for her health and temperament to be assessed.

0:21:440:21:48

Claire is on her way to the vet's.

0:21:510:21:54

In the back of her van is Olga,

0:21:540:21:56

the skinny dog that was left without food and water on a dirty balcony.

0:21:560:22:01

I'm actually quite sad about this job, really, because it's just so unnecessary.

0:22:020:22:06

She's a really lovely dog, but quite clearly never leaves the flat, is very nervous on a lead,

0:22:060:22:12

claws are very long, didn't like going down the stairs.

0:22:120:22:16

It's vital Olga gets a health check.

0:22:160:22:20

At the surgery, Claire makes a quick assessment.

0:22:200:22:23

She's not in too bad condition. I mean, she is underweight by about 10kg, so she needs to put on

0:22:250:22:31

quite a bit of weight, but her skin looks quite nice and she's quite happy and alert in herself.

0:22:310:22:36

She loves attention, she likes people and, you know, she's just...

0:22:360:22:40

She's a really nice dog. It's such a shame, really.

0:22:400:22:43

Claire believes the dog is a Hungarian Vizsla,

0:22:430:22:46

an expensive breed and one that should be stocky and muscular.

0:22:460:22:50

This dog's body shape suggest she's been denied food for some time,

0:22:560:23:01

and her reaction to a bowl is yet more evidence of neglect.

0:23:010:23:05

Now, that's a hungry dog. That's a dog that's not eaten for a while.

0:23:080:23:12

Good girl.

0:23:120:23:14

So far Olga's remained good-natured,

0:23:140:23:16

but she is a big dog and has the potential to be aggressive.

0:23:160:23:20

Claire needs to know if she can be trusted.

0:23:200:23:23

Dogs that have been starved or not been given food for quite some time

0:23:260:23:29

can become really possessive of food, so it's quite an interesting test

0:23:290:23:32

to remove the food bowl while it's eating and see what kind of reaction you get.

0:23:320:23:37

This is a big test, especially for such a hungry animal.

0:23:370:23:40

Is that nice? Is that? Good girl.

0:23:400:23:43

Is it? Oh, waggy wags, waggy wags!

0:23:430:23:46

Is that? Good girl.

0:23:480:23:50

There's a good girl. There's a good girl! There you go.

0:23:500:23:53

Thankfully, Olga passes Claire's table manners test with flying colours.

0:23:530:23:58

Re-homeable. Easily re-homeable.

0:23:580:24:00

Good girl!

0:24:000:24:02

She's shown no aggression whatsoever, which is brilliant.

0:24:020:24:04

You could put in a home maybe with young children that might get on the floor when she's eating or something.

0:24:040:24:10

She's going to be fine.

0:24:100:24:12

Within minutes, Olga has finished the bowl of food.

0:24:120:24:16

She's actively seeking food all the time. This behaviour is looking for food. She's very hungry.

0:24:160:24:22

But she's not just starving, she's also desperately thirsty.

0:24:220:24:26

Good girl. Do you want some water? Would you like a bowl of water?

0:24:260:24:32

Shall I put some water in there for you now? Look, there you go.

0:24:320:24:36

With hunger sated and thirst quenched, time for Claire to turn her attention

0:24:390:24:45

to what happens next to this unfortunate dog.

0:24:450:24:48

If the owner comes forward then obviously she'll be encouraged

0:24:480:24:51

to sign the dog over to the RSPCA.

0:24:510:24:55

If she doesn't come over forward within a couple of weeks she'll be re-homed.

0:24:550:24:58

I don't think we'll have any problem re-homing a dog that's as nice as that.

0:24:580:25:01

Olga is now in safe hands, and will begin the road to recovery at the vet's.

0:25:030:25:08

-For Claire though, there are still plenty of questions to be answered.

-Bye bye, darling.

0:25:100:25:15

She's determined to find out why such a lovely dog was left alone and starving on a dirty balcony.

0:25:160:25:22

A few weeks later, and Claire is back on the road dealing

0:25:310:25:35

with another complaint about animals being kept on a balcony.

0:25:350:25:40

She's following up on an earlier visit to a flat where the owners

0:25:400:25:43

were keeping dozens of chickens in cramped and filthy cages.

0:25:430:25:47

This is the property here, with the washing on the line.

0:25:470:25:50

It's the same situation as it was when we came before.

0:25:500:25:54

The cages and boxes are full of birds and we've had information from one of the local housing officers here

0:25:540:26:01

that they're still receiving complaints.

0:26:010:26:04

The owner's been given a chance to improve things, but nothing's changed.

0:26:040:26:09

Now it's time for Claire to get tough.

0:26:090:26:13

Because he's received a warning notice on a previous occasion about keeping birds

0:26:130:26:16

in unsanitary conditions on a balcony and from what we can see, those situations haven't changed,

0:26:160:26:20

it justifies us escalating it to where they're getting removed, and he's facing prosecution.

0:26:200:26:26

Today, Claire is joined by RSPCA inspector Imara Alagaratnam

0:26:310:26:33

and two police officers. She's determined to take the animals away from the flat, no matter what.

0:26:330:26:37

We are here with the police, could you open the door, please?

0:26:370:26:41

Once inside, Claire discovers the situation is more serious than she first thought.

0:26:410:26:47

There are young birds on the balcony, so they've been breeding since we were here before.

0:26:470:26:53

-Claire wants a closer look.

-You don't need to ask your husband, Madam, we're here with the police.

0:26:530:26:58

And once on the balcony, it's clear why it's so important to rescue them.

0:26:580:27:04

There's just numerous birds on the balcony, very young birds that are in quite poor condition.

0:27:040:27:09

They're very thin, they're obviously not getting very well fed up here.

0:27:090:27:12

There's lots of faeces and urine all over the balcony.

0:27:120:27:15

It's very unsanitary, very unpleasant up here.

0:27:150:27:18

The balcony has become a potential breeding ground for disease,

0:27:180:27:22

but adult birds and their chicks have been forced to live here.

0:27:220:27:26

We've put all the chickens into the Vari Kennel,

0:27:260:27:29

but there's two pigeons here with a baby pigeon, so we need to put that in a different container and then

0:27:290:27:34

need to just start dismantling some of these makeshift containers so that the gentleman doesn't get any more.

0:27:340:27:40

As Claire continues the round-up...

0:27:420:27:46

-That's it, mate.

-Imara emerges with the first of the rescued birds.

0:27:460:27:50

And there was no food or water for any of these animals in any of the pens, so they've got no access to it,

0:27:500:27:56

and they're living in their own excrement, as you see from some of the litter trays that we've removed.

0:27:560:28:00

After half an hour, Claire leaves the flat with the rest of the birds.

0:28:000:28:04

We've got 14 chickens in here, most of them are in pretty bad condition.

0:28:040:28:09

They're thin, they're scabby, they're quite clearly underweight,

0:28:090:28:12

some of them are quite young.

0:28:120:28:15

We're taking them down now to the forensic vet who is going

0:28:150:28:17

to individually look at each bird and let us know how bad they really are.

0:28:170:28:22

The chickens and the pigeon are taken to a vet surgery a few miles away.

0:28:220:28:27

Here their condition will be recorded for use in any case against the owners.

0:28:270:28:34

I think that both the chickens and the pigeons have been reared for food, quite honestly.

0:28:340:28:38

I don't see any other reason why you would keep them there.

0:28:380:28:41

They're certainly not pets.

0:28:410:28:44

They don't have any interaction with the people in the flat or anything like that.

0:28:440:28:47

The only logical explanation is that they are as a source of food.

0:28:470:28:50

The checks start with the pigeon, and Claire believes it has been taken from the wild.

0:28:500:28:56

This is a... It's certainly a bird that appears to be acting in a wild behaviour.

0:28:560:29:01

Yeah, in a wild way. It's not used to being handled, it's not ringed,

0:29:010:29:05

it doesn't have any tattoo markings on the wing, anything like that.

0:29:050:29:09

The pigeon is given a clean bill of health and the vet shares Claire's suspicions about his origins.

0:29:090:29:14

Well, the vet's recommendation is that this bird is suffering

0:29:140:29:17

because it's a wild-caught bird, therefore I'm going to release it.

0:29:170:29:20

Can you fly? Thank you!

0:29:230:29:26

It's gone. It's flown away quite nicely, strongly.

0:29:260:29:30

But for the chickens, there's no luxury of freedom.

0:29:300:29:35

They're quite alert though, bless them, but they're in a bad way.

0:29:350:29:39

Many are clearly going to take some time to recover.

0:29:390:29:41

You can see the breastbone there, there is no meat on this bird at all.

0:29:410:29:45

It hasn't got many feathers and things on top.

0:29:450:29:48

This would almost certainly be either stress or from pecking from the other birds.

0:29:480:29:53

It's not an area that it can peck itself.

0:29:530:29:56

These will go down to a boarding establishment to get some condition and put on some weight,

0:29:560:30:02

and look a bit more like chickens, and the result will be decided by the court.

0:30:020:30:07

All the birds are checked and photographed for evidence,

0:30:070:30:11

but it will be some time before their futures can be decided.

0:30:110:30:15

Coming up, another day, another high-rise problem.

0:30:220:30:27

-Were they out on the balcony?

-This is kept open for him...

0:30:270:30:30

So they can come and go all the time.

0:30:300:30:33

In the last year alone,

0:30:350:30:37

the number of animals dumped or abandoned has risen by 57% -

0:30:370:30:43

that's a staggering 30 animals per day.

0:30:430:30:46

The stories are always sad - dogs tied to lampposts, or,

0:30:460:30:50

like Mr Jingles here, just dumped outside the RSPCA.

0:30:500:30:55

And when the animals are so young,

0:30:550:30:58

and it makes it even more upsetting and difficult to understand.

0:30:580:31:02

On a street in Wigan,

0:31:030:31:06

two kittens have been found dumped in a cardboard box.

0:31:060:31:11

They've been taken to two separate addresses by the people who have discovered them.

0:31:110:31:17

Now RSPCA inspector Lisa Lupson has been called.

0:31:170:31:21

They're about three weeks old, which is slightly worrying,

0:31:210:31:25

so we'll go to this house now and check on this kitten and then we'll try and find the other one.

0:31:250:31:30

The babies will be frightened and missing their mum.

0:31:300:31:34

Hiya, RSPCA.

0:31:340:31:37

To help them feel safe, Lisa wants to reunite the siblings as soon as possible.

0:31:370:31:43

-Do you want me to take it from you?

-Yeah, you can do, there you go.

0:31:430:31:46

-Thank you.

-Hang on,

0:31:460:31:48

-hang on.

-Have you got... Hello, darling. Hello.

0:31:480:31:52

The family here have tried to give the kitten the best start they can.

0:31:520:31:56

We've given it milk, kept it nice and warm,

0:31:560:31:59

kept an eye on it, looked after it.

0:31:590:32:02

-Even though its stay was brief...

-It's a shame it's been separated.

0:32:020:32:07

You're very sweet, aren't you?

0:32:070:32:09

For one of the foster carers, it's still a wrench to see it go.

0:32:090:32:12

There's no need to cry, you've done the right thing. But to be honest because it's been found in a box,

0:32:120:32:18

we do need to get it to the vet's and get it health checked and make sure that it's all right.

0:32:180:32:24

Come on then, sweetie pie.

0:32:240:32:26

Let's try and find your brother.

0:32:260:32:28

I'm just going to just bob round to the other address where this other kitten has been taken,

0:32:290:32:35

and then take them up to the vet's,

0:32:350:32:38

and get them health checked up there.

0:32:380:32:41

KNOCK Hiya, RSPCA.

0:32:440:32:47

Inside, the family say they're thinking of keeping the kitten,

0:32:470:32:50

but Lisa explains that taking on a pet is a decision not to be taken lightly.

0:32:500:32:56

I mean, you've got to think it's not... Obviously it's very sweet,

0:32:560:32:58

but it's going to grow up and it's going to need vet bills.

0:32:580:33:01

Finally, the family agrees to let the kitten go.

0:33:010:33:05

He'll be happy when he sees his brother.

0:33:050:33:07

Thankfully, both kittens appear to be in good health, meaning Lisa can finally reunite the siblings.

0:33:070:33:14

I've picked up a lot of kittens recently that have had symptoms

0:33:160:33:19

of cat flu and taken them home and rehabilitated them.

0:33:190:33:23

Obviously nervous, shaking a bit, so if I pop it

0:33:230:33:26

in the cage.

0:33:260:33:28

The two babies may have lost their mother, but at least they have each other.

0:33:280:33:32

Hey, look who it is!

0:33:320:33:34

And they seem comforted to be finally back together again.

0:33:340:33:37

Reunited at last!

0:33:370:33:39

We'll get you to the vet's now?

0:33:390:33:42

Yes. THEY MIAOW

0:33:420:33:45

Often, kittens are dumped because they have health problems.

0:33:500:33:55

Lisa needs to get these two to the vet's as soon as possible.

0:33:550:34:00

Vet Stephen Gilmore

0:34:000:34:04

is ready and waiting to check them over.

0:34:040:34:07

I just wondered, could you have a quick look at them and tell me what sex they are and just give them a...

0:34:070:34:11

A bit of a health check and they'll be all right for re-homing, then.

0:34:110:34:14

-Yeah, no problem.

-Brilliant.

0:34:140:34:15

The first one is clearly unhappy to be separated from his sibling.

0:34:150:34:20

-Very vocal, this one.

-Yes.

-Under the watchful eye

0:34:200:34:24

of his brother, he's given a full health check.

0:34:240:34:29

His eyes are nice and clear.

0:34:290:34:31

Again, no sign of viral infections or conjunctivitis.

0:34:310:34:34

Just check him for fleas.

0:34:340:34:36

-Absolutely spotless.

-Really?

0:34:360:34:39

-That's a first.

-Yeah, he's fine.

0:34:390:34:42

-You're fine, aren't you?

-Thankfully, he's in pretty good nick.

0:34:420:34:46

Now it's time for kitten number two.

0:34:460:34:50

Generally the kittens, when they've been together, the condition of one will be the condition of the other.

0:34:500:34:56

-Of all of them.

-These two make a perfect pair.

0:34:560:34:59

This makes their abandonment even more baffling.

0:34:590:35:02

And these are the healthiest two kittens I've found for a while.

0:35:020:35:05

Very good. Nice healthy kittens.

0:35:050:35:07

It's unusual for such healthy kittens

0:35:070:35:08

to have been dumped then because normally we're finding recently that kittens that have been dumped

0:35:080:35:13

have got either symptoms of cat flu or something happening.

0:35:130:35:16

The two kittens can now be put up for re-homing.

0:35:160:35:21

-Thank you, See you soon.

-OK, bye.

0:35:210:35:23

But after their traumatic start in life, Lisa's hoping their close bond will not be broken.

0:35:230:35:29

A week later,

0:35:290:35:31

and both kittens have been snapped up and, thankfully, they've been kept together.

0:35:310:35:38

They're now enjoying each other's company thanks to new owner Cyril Barnett.

0:35:380:35:43

Today, Lisa has come round to see how the brothers are getting along.

0:35:470:35:51

So, we've come to see your kittens.

0:35:510:35:53

I'm very excited!

0:35:530:35:56

Cyril's happy to have given the kittens somewhere they can both call home.

0:35:560:36:00

There they are. Oh, they're so cute!

0:36:000:36:03

-That's Gino and Pepe.

-What are they called?

0:36:030:36:06

-Gino and Pepe.

-Gino and Pepe.

0:36:060:36:08

Gino's the black one and Pepe's the black and white.

0:36:080:36:10

Aww! Well, they look very settled on that big furry cushion.

0:36:100:36:13

To see actually something that you've saved in its home,

0:36:130:36:17

in its new environment - really happy and playful, it's just brilliant.

0:36:170:36:22

Honestly, it's a really, really good feeling. Really good sense of satisfaction.

0:36:220:36:26

Gino and Pepe may have had a frightening start to life,

0:36:280:36:32

cruelly separated from their mother, and dumped all alone...

0:36:320:36:36

You're a monkey. Yes, you are.

0:36:360:36:37

Yes, you are.

0:36:370:36:39

But now the future of these two brothers couldn't be more secure.

0:36:390:36:43

Like all of us, animals need plenty of space in which to live

0:36:480:36:52

and this can be a problem for people in small high-rise flats.

0:36:520:36:57

In London, the RSPCA have been cracking down on pets abandoned on balconies.

0:36:570:37:03

Inspector Claire Ponsford has already rescued an emaciated Hungarian Vizsla, and 14 chickens.

0:37:030:37:10

Now it looks like she might have to help some more.

0:37:100:37:12

They may be nice places to bask in the sunshine, but balconies are far from ideal for pets.

0:37:170:37:22

-BARKING

-Inspector Claire Ponsford has been told a balcony

0:37:260:37:29

in this block of flats is crammed with noisy dogs.

0:37:290:37:33

I've had a call about three dogs

0:37:350:37:37

living on a balcony, and supposedly more dogs living inside this flat.

0:37:370:37:42

I can't see any dogs on the outside balcony. We'll go and see what's happening.

0:37:420:37:47

The main problem is from a danger point of view, obviously,

0:37:520:37:57

that they could potentially jump or fall.

0:37:570:38:00

Usually they're left out there without any food or water.

0:38:000:38:03

Most balconies aren't sheltered.

0:38:030:38:06

-Hello.

-Hiya.

0:38:060:38:08

Hello, I'm with the RSPCA. I've had a call about your dogs.

0:38:080:38:11

-Why?

-Can I come in for a second?

0:38:110:38:12

You're not talking about the dogs down here which are kept out in the yard?

0:38:120:38:15

-No, I've been given number 52, that's you.

-All right, come in.

0:38:150:38:17

Can I come in for a second? Thank you.

0:38:170:38:19

Inside are two energetic dogs.

0:38:230:38:25

And as owner Laura cleans up the mess from the night before, Claire wants to know where they're kept.

0:38:270:38:35

-Were they out on the balcony?

-This is kept open for him to go...

-So they can come and go all the time.

0:38:350:38:41

Because basically he's housetrained,

0:38:410:38:42

-but as I say in the morning...

-But he can't get through the night.

0:38:420:38:46

In the night he goes out here like this. I mean, that's why it's a mess.

0:38:460:38:50

I've just lifted it up, but that's what... I mop it every day. It's cleaned three times a day.

0:38:500:38:54

-Oh, you're keeping it clean? All right, good stuff.

-That's...

0:38:540:38:57

That's just from last night.

0:38:570:38:58

It's quite bad from last night.

0:38:580:39:01

-The dogs are clearly quite boisterous.

-They bark continually.

0:39:010:39:06

And Laura tells Claire until recently things were even more chaotic.

0:39:060:39:10

-I tell you why he could have called.

-Oh, right.

-I had my son's dog here.

0:39:100:39:16

Well, that would make sense because we... The call was about three dogs on a balcony.

0:39:160:39:22

-He's a big male dog, he's aggressive.

-Yeah.

0:39:220:39:24

-He's lovely with me, but it's not...

-He's making too much trouble.

0:39:240:39:28

And it causes him to play up.

0:39:280:39:30

-Yeah.

-And I've said to him I can't look after him any more because if I get caught for causing problems...

0:39:300:39:34

No, you can't have three dogs here, really.

0:39:340:39:37

Keeping such feisty dogs in a small flat is far from ideal.

0:39:370:39:41

-I'm happy with what I've seen. Are you managing here with two dogs?

-Yes, I've got...

-Are you sure?

-Yeah.

0:39:410:39:47

But Claire is satisfied that these dogs are well cared for.

0:39:470:39:52

That's a fairly routine call.

0:39:520:39:53

She admits that they go out on to the balcony, but the door was open.

0:39:530:39:56

I mean, you can see now that they're coming in and out of the balcony into the living room.

0:39:560:40:01

The dogs are nice, friendly. She's got some very expensive food there.

0:40:010:40:05

Don't really have any problems with them, really. They're vaccinated.

0:40:050:40:08

I offered to microchip the other dog for her and I'll go back and do that in a couple of days.

0:40:080:40:12

Just a lady who's got too many dogs in a small flat, really.

0:40:120:40:15

Claire may be happy with the way these dogs are being kept,

0:40:150:40:20

but the consequences of keeping dogs in confined spaces can be much more severe.

0:40:200:40:25

Three weeks ago Claire rescued Olga, a Hungarian Vizsla,

0:40:270:40:30

from a balcony in East London.

0:40:300:40:32

She was neglected, underfed and close to starvation.

0:40:320:40:36

Now Olga's piled on the weight,

0:40:420:40:44

and is looking much more like a pedigree dog should.

0:40:440:40:48

Before we took the dog out, she was emaciated. You could see pretty much every bone in her.

0:40:510:40:55

Today with the amount of weight that she's put on, she looks very different.

0:40:550:41:00

That's the whole reason to get these animals out and it's nice to see that

0:41:000:41:03

they're happy in kennels and getting well looked after. It's wonderful.

0:41:030:41:06

Today, Claire's at the kennels where Olga is being cared for to see how she's getting along.

0:41:090:41:14

The environment that she came from to the environment that she's at now is just miles apart.

0:41:160:41:21

She's out in green fields, she's getting exercise all day, every day,

0:41:210:41:24

mixing with people, and it's obvious to see how much she's enjoying that

0:41:240:41:28

from the way her personality has developed over the last few weeks.

0:41:280:41:32

For Olga, like other animals Claire has seen trapped on balconies,

0:41:350:41:39

the experience of the high life wasn't always a happy one.

0:41:390:41:43

Claire's hoping Olga's next move will take her to a safe place

0:41:430:41:47

where she can keep all four feet firmly on the ground.

0:41:470:41:51

Yes, you are! Yes, you are!

0:41:510:41:54

The owner of Olga, later found to be called Lily, was convicted

0:41:560:42:00

of causing her to suffer and received a 10-year-ban

0:42:000:42:04

on keeping all animals.

0:42:040:42:06

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

0:42:060:42:12

remember there are dedicated professionals out there

0:42:120:42:15

who will answer your call right around the clock.

0:42:150:42:18

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

0:42:180:42:21

Next time on Animal 24:7, the tiny kittens crawling with fleas.

0:42:230:42:29

Are these all the cats in the house now? Is this how many you own? So we've got one, two, three, four...

0:42:290:42:33

-There's eight.

-Eight cats.

0:42:330:42:36

A tricky rescue for a trapped duckling.

0:42:360:42:38

I'm just going to let it settle a second, Justin.

0:42:380:42:42

Because obviously if the duckling is in there, we don't want too much

0:42:420:42:45

water flowing in one go, so take it very carefully.

0:42:450:42:49

And will Gus the Staffie live up to the breed's bad reputation?

0:42:490:42:53

It all goes down to young lads who are out on the streets wanting a status symbol.

0:42:530:42:59

A Staffie is quite a hard-looking dog.

0:42:590:43:03

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:170:43:20

E-mail subtitling@bbc.co.uk

0:43:200:43:23

Series following people dedicated to rescuing Britain's wildlife and pets.

Presenter Tom Heap is on the trail of the whale lost in the city of Glasgow. RSPCA Inspector Clare Ponsford cracks down on animals being kept on high rise balconies and the cute kittens dumped in a cardboard box.