Episode 14 Animal 24:7


Episode 14

RSPCA Inspector Helen Smith deals with a variety of feline distress calls and a potentially deadly spider is found by a removal firm.


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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 trying to protect and care for them

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right around the clock. This is Animal 24:7.

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Today on Animal 24:7, tiny kittens crawling with fleas.

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These are the cats you've got in the house now?

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-We've got one, two, three, four...

-There's eight.

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A tricky rescue for a trapped duckling.

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I'm just going to let it settle.

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If the duckling is in there, we don't want too much water flowing in at one go.

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Take it very carefully.

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

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It all goes down to young lads who want a status symbol.

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A Staffie is quite a hard-looking dog.

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There are 10 million cat owners in Britain, so it's no surprise the RSPCA gets a lot of calls

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about this popular pet,

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but centres around the country are overflowing with cats looking for a new home.

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When an inspector gets a call about another unwanted feline, it can be a real problem.

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Bacup, Lancashire. Inspector Helen Smith has arrived at a house where several cats need her help.

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But this is not a call from a member of the public.

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This call has come from the owner herself.

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-You all right?

-Yeah.

-We're just here to see how many cats you've got and how we can help you, OK?

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Do you want us to come in? Is that OK?

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Frances Gray has asked for Helen's help after realising she's unable to cope with all her cats.

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Are these all the cats you've got in the house now?

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-There's one missing.

-OK. So we've got one, two, three, four...

-There's eight.

-Eight cats.

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Frances has got four cats and four kittens,

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but it seems she never intended to have quite so many.

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Is this because you never had them spayed? They've bred and you've not known what to do with the kittens?

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I didn't make arrangements. A friend of mine gave me vouchers to take her

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-and her. By the time I got there, they were already pregnant.

-Right.

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-They obviously won't do it.

-Right.

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And even when Frances has managed to find new homes for some of her collection, they can't stay away.

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We've rehomed the big tom cat

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-at the weekend.

-Right, OK.

-But he escaped.

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-Right.

-And he came home. We don't know how he managed it.

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Frances can't cope with the number of cats living here.

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-Reluctantly, she's putting seven up for rehoming.

-You want to keep one?

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-The grey and white one.

-Right.

-Because she was a rescue cat.

-OK.

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-And she was badly treated.

-Mm-hm.

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She's never been out of the house.

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-OK.

-I don't think she'd be really suitable for rehoming.

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I'll ring around some animal homes and see if we can get them in.

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Helen wants to help.

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-Hiya.

-But finding space for seven cats isn't going to be easy.

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Have you got room for some kittens?

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Many centres in the area are full of unwanted and abandoned cats.

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I've got four, yeah. They're about 10 weeks.

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But, thankfully, today Helen is in luck.

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Right. That's fantastic.

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All right, thank you. Bye.

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We're going to take three to Blackpool Animal Home now.

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Then the lady from another animal home is going to be a fosterer as from Monday,

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so she'll take the remaining four.

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To make sure Frances doesn't find herself with more kittens,

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Helen gives her a voucher to get her remaining cat neutered.

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I'll just give you this neutering voucher for the grey and white one.

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Make sure you keep hold of that. OK?

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The paperwork is complete. It's now time for the cats to leave.

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-Right. I'll take this little fella?

-Yep.

-Yep.

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But while she's struggling to cope with them, it's still hard for Frances to see them go.

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-Don't worry. They'll be well looked after.

-My little favourite.

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Bye-bye, sweetie.

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-Be good.

-You've done the right thing.

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I know it's upsetting, but you have.

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-I've had them since the day they were born.

-I know and you do get a bond, but you have done the right thing.

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Helen hopes that by giving the kittens a new home, she's also given Frances a fresh start, too.

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We're not always here to prosecute and get people into trouble. We can help people like this lady.

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We've downsized her to one neutered cat

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so her problem is sorted now. She can get her house back on track.

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Keeping so many cats can mean health problems get overlooked.

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Before the cats can go anywhere else, they have to be checked to ensure they're fit and healthy.

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She heads to the RSPCA's Longview Animal Centre in Blackpool.

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Care Assistant Joe is waiting to see the little felines.

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-Hi, Joe!

-All right?

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-What have we got?

-These are three kittens from a house.

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-Just wondering if you can just give them a quick check over.

-Yes.

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The eyes are quite clear, aren't they?

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Quite placid. I don't know whether they'd need worming.

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-Skin's a bit rough here. They might need fleaing.

-A closer inspection quickly uncovers the problem.

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-This kitten is crawling with fleas.

-Can you assume if one's got fleas they've all got fleas?

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I assume so, yes. If they were in the same conditions, they will do.

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It's vital fleas are treated in such young cats. They can cause uncomfortable skin irritations

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and lead to more serious health problems.

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-If kittens have a lot of fleas, can that make them lethargic?

-It will.

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It's also quite an easy passage for diseases to be passed on.

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That is part of the danger of it.

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Thankfully, despite the flea burden, the kitten is in reasonable health.

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Looking at the eye, they seem quite nice. That seems fine.

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-Joe checks the other brothers and sisters.

-This one's got quite a lot of fleas on it again.

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-As he expected, it's a similar story for them.

-Seems to be just a flea problem.

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-Everything seems OK.

-Luckily, fleas are easy to treat. A dose of flea killer will soon cure them.

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There we are. All done.

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There we go.

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And Helen's certain it won't be too long before they have new homes.

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Here we go.

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It's always nice to take animals from someone who can't cope

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and bring them somewhere new. This will, hopefully, just be temporary.

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Then they'll hopefully get settled and go to a new home.

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Still to come: the search for an abandoned cat attracts an uninvited guest.

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There's geese coming towards us!

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And an emotional goodbye for this dog owner.

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You're doing the right thing. We'll find him a good home.

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Like us humans, baby animals love to explore,

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but they can often be blissfully unaware of the danger and they can land in all sorts of trouble.

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Now there's a report that a baby duckling has given his parents the slip and landed in deep water.

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This is the River Lark in Tuddenham, Suffolk.

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The local ducks are doing what they do best.

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But for an unlucky duckling, a dip in an adjoining pond at this boutique hotel

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has led to a rather unexpected overnight stay.

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A fairly bizarre call about a duckling

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stuck under a walkway. It's possibly fallen down a hole where water pours onto the mill wheel.

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I haven't had a good look at it yet, so I'm not entirely sure, but somebody's going to get very wet.

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Staff at the hotel called the RSPCA after hearing the duckling's distressed calls last night.

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This could be a tricky water rescue. Inspector Chris Niece is helping out and is quick to get stuck in.

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Well, that's OK.

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The hotel is an old water mill and the duckling has got trapped in an extremely awkward spot.

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It's close to the mill wheel and there's only one way for Justin and Chris to get it out.

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Somebody's going to have to go into the water up to the hole and then reach.

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You can hear the duckling. If they try to make the wheel move,

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all the water flushes through and it'll get washed away.

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Fortunately, Chris and Justin are well-prepared for any eventuality and are equipped with dry suits.

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Lots of jobs aren't straightforward. You think on your feet.

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You try to see everything works out in a nice way.

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They're determined to rescue it, but if it gets too hazardous, they'll have to abandon the attempt.

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The risk to the person involved in the rescue may outweigh the benefit of rescuing the individual animal.

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Our first priority is the safety of the people in the rescue. If we can resolve it, we will.

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With the pair suited and booted, Chris has drawn the short straw.

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Oh, it's very silty at the bottom.

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The pond's muddy bed means backstroke is the best option,

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but with all the safety gear on, it's slow going.

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Chris finally reaches the mill race, the water channel which feeds the wheel, but he needs to be cautious.

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I'm slightly wary of any debris.

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I'll just let it settle a second.

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If the duckling is in there, we don't want too much water flowing at one go.

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Slowly, but surely, Chris edges his way into the narrow, dark channel to try to find the trapped duckling,

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but then, as he peers through the gloom, he makes an unexpected discovery.

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The situation is we have not one, but two ducklings in there at present.

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They're both on a slight ledge. Regrettably, they're slightly out of physical reach of my hand.

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Chris decides to try to gather up the ducklings. One false move could end in disaster.

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The danger is that it only takes a small movement from their position

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so that they go further down the drain and then they would be completely out of reach.

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But the ducklings are just too far away for Chris to get near.

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Right, we're going to have to adapt our plan slightly.

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-I need something that sort of length.

-A net might work.

-Yeah.

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This net is usually used to catch small reptiles.

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Today it's the ideal size for netting marooned mallards.

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OK, Justin.

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Reaching into the darkness, it doesn't take Chris long to bag the first bird.

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Right, got one.

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There's one little duckling.

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Tell me when you're ready and we'll go for the second one.

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With its brother gone, the second duckling heads straight into Chris's waiting hands.

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Justin quickly reunites the brothers and their impromptu stay in one of the hotel's less fashionable rooms

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is finally over.

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-Thank you, sir.

-Good job. Well done.

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Now there's another challenge facing Chris and Justin.

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We are trying to locate the parents. We think there's probably half a dozen remaining, not including these.

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But there's quite a lot of undergrowth along the edge of the riverbank.

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The vegetation is thick and dense. It's hard to see anything, so they'll have to rely on their ears.

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I'm thinking they're just here, Chris.

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Justin's spotted a pair of ducks with babies hiding beneath a tree.

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If the adult ducks react to the infants' distress calls, they know it's the correct family.

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-DUCKLING CHEEPS They heard that.

-They're coming.

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With the parents answering their calls, Chris unceremoniously releases the pair

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-back into the water.

-Jump! Jump!

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The ducklings don't hang around. As soon as they spot them, they head straight to Mum and Dad,

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who are still hiding under the safety of the trees.

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They're a lot lower. They've seen Mum.

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Basically, imagine being a kid. "Mum!" and then running back in.

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That's worked out perfectly.

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Later: from cute to creepy, can Justin conquer his fears?

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I jump on the sofa if there's a spider. Fingers crossed it's British!

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And an unusual cat call for Inspector Helen Smith.

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The rope's attached to its collar. It's very weird. I don't know why anyone would tether a cat.

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Maybe they think it'll run off.

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On Animal 24:7, we've seen lots of stories about Staffordshire Bull Terriers.

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They're a popular breed, but in recent years have been used by gangs as status symbols.

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This has given them a bad name as being aggressive and boisterous.

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So when a call came in to the RSPCA I was keen to see if they lived up to their bad reputation.

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'Today I'm on the south coast of Pembrokeshire in West Wales.

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'I'm with RSPCA Inspector Keith Hogben, who's received a phone call about a Staffordshire Bull Terrier

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'being kept in poor conditions.'

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-Hiya. How are you doing? We're from the RSPCA.

-Hello.

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-Is it all right to come in?

-Yeah.

-Thank you.

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'It's the second time Keith has been called to this house about the dog, a bundle of energy called Gus.'

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I've had another complaint about him saying he's got no water outside.

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'Kirsty has four young children. She's quick to admit she's struggling to cope with Gus,

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'who belonged to her ex-partner.'

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I know you've got more than enough on your plate with the kids.

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-This is why I might get rid of him.

-If you sign him over to me today, I can get him into the animal centre.

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-He's not going to be put down?

-He won't be.

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I'll take him to the animal centre and they'll assess him for two weeks before he goes up for rehoming.

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We'll get him neutered, which is absolutely a must.

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'As part of the Bull Terrier family, Staffies have a reputation for being aggressive,

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'but they are popular pets.'

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My two oldest love him. They'll be home in half an hour.

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He'll do everything for them. He'll take a treat out their hands.

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-He's not a bad dog, which is why I don't want him put down.

-There's no reason for us to put him to sleep.

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-He's just playful.

-I've been crying!

-Your youngest is scared of him?

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-Because he's big and boisterous?

-He was fine at first. He's only one.

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He's knocked her over, running round. Other than that, he's really, really good.

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I am gutted. He's been lush.

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'Gus is more good natured than I expected,

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'but he does like to play fight. He's not being aggressive, but he could hurt young children.'

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-You are lovely, aren't you?

-Less of that biting, come on.

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He's been rolling around out there.

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'Reluctantly, Kirsty signs the excitable Gus over to the RSPCA.'

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-There we are. Do you want to bring him out to the van?

-Can I not?

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Are you sure? OK. That's fine.

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Hey, you all right? We'll find him a good home

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and I'll get him neutered and he'll be fine.

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-Come on, then.

-Is he going to take me for a walk?

-Probably!

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-He takes me everywhere.

-'Kirsty's very fond of Gus, but he needs lots of attention

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-'and she just doesn't have the time.'

-He's dying to go out now. Belly rub.

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Thank you very much. You take care now.

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Come on then, Gus.

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'It's a tearful goodbye.

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'But Keith is sure that this is the best thing for Kirsty and her dog.'

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This dog needs a lot of exercise, a lot of time spent with him.

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We keep going back about mental stimulation. They're not thick.

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-This dog is an intelligent creature.

-'Outside, Gus calms down,

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'which is a welcome surprise bearing in mind the bad press Staffies have had in the past.'

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-Why have Staffies got that reputation?

-I think it all goes down to young lads out on the streets

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wanting a status symbol. A Staffie is quite a hard-looking dog.

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Unduly, they've got this reputation as a hard dog. They can make smashing family pets,

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but there's good and bad in every breed. Look at him now.

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We just brought him out. He doesn't know us, but he's calmed down.

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And I'm sure he'll make a really nice pet for someone.

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I can stroke you without you taking a little nibble on us.

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'For those owners who keep Staffies as status symbols, tail docking used to be common practice

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'to make them look less friendly. But Gus still has his tail and it never stops wagging,

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'especially when he gets a much-needed drink.' Bottle fed!

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'With his thirst quenched,

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'Gus is on his way to the RSPCA's animal shelter.

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'The aim now will be to rehome him,

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'preferably with an owner who has experience of Staffies.

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'Laura Simpson will be in charge of finding a new home for Gus.'

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-Is it easy or difficult to rehome Staffies?

-Not too difficult.

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We do rehome them,

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but everything that's in the newspaper about them doesn't make it any easier.

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But we get through them.

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'Gus is taken to his new temporary home and another big test -

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'seeing how he reacts to other dogs in the kennels.

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'But Gus seems to want to make a good impression with his new neighbours.

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'And soon he's relaxing out in his own back yard.'

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-Hello, Gus.

-All right, Gus?

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-So what happens now? What's the regime here?

-We'll leave him to settle in

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for five days or so, just while we assess him, see what his temperament's like,

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what he seems like with the dogs next door.

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-Roughly how long do you think he'll be here?

-It would depend.

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A good all-round dog will find a home pretty quickly - good with children, animals.

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He'd certainly find a home. He seems a lovely little dog.

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'So good news for Gus and Keith's happy, too.'

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We've not only helped the dog, we've helped everyone.

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Often people are reluctant and say, "Actually, I can't cope with this.

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"Help me." They won't do that. But Gus will get a good home.

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-Well done. Hopefully, in a month or so he'll be bounding around near here as happy as Larry.

-Yeah.

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'And Gus has made me realise that some Staffies don't deserve their bad name.'

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Coming up: the stowaway spider giving everyone the creeps.

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Not one I recognise. He's the right markings for a Black Widow.

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Now we're back in Lancashire where the RSPCA is facing an influx of cats and kittens.

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Earlier, we saw Inspector Helen Smith take away eight cats from an owner

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who was struggling to cope. Now there's another distress call.

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Nelson in Lancashire. And on this terraced street a young cat called Socks has been left behind

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after her family moved on.

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Hello! Here about the cat.

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Thank you.

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Scared and lonely, she's been hanging round her home,

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completely unaware her family is long gone.

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Luckily, though, this poor cat does have one friend.

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Neighbour Emma Savage has been caring for Socks since her owners decided they no longer wanted her.

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-How long have they left her for?

-About three weeks.

-Three weeks.

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-Yeah.

-And have you been feeding the cat?

-On and off.

-Right.

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It's been in the garden all morning. Now I've turned up it's gone!

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It's typical, but hopefully it will make an appearance when it hears food.

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-Helen's tempting technique seems to have paid off.

-Here it is.

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Or maybe not. Helen has to give chase.

0:24:500:24:54

We'll just see if we can get it and identify it.

0:24:540:24:59

The problem is with cats, obviously, quite a lot look the same.

0:24:590:25:03

I don't want to take somebody's much-loved pet if it's not the right one,

0:25:030:25:09

so we'll go and see.

0:25:090:25:12

-This cat's proving to be elusive.

-SHE WHISTLES

0:25:120:25:17

But as Helen's hunt takes her towards the canal, she does have some success with her biscuits.

0:25:180:25:24

There's geese coming towards us!

0:25:240:25:27

The goose may be keen for a gander at Helen's bait, but Socks is still nowhere to be seen.

0:25:270:25:33

We'll go back down to the original house.

0:25:330:25:38

That's obviously the place where it knows it's getting fed.

0:25:390:25:43

Helen's determined to catch this missing moggie. She heads back to the house to find out more.

0:25:430:25:50

Can't find it! So how often does it come to this house for food, then?

0:25:540:25:59

-It tends to just appear once and then it will come back.

-Right.

0:25:590:26:04

-And sits on your windowsill?

-Yeah.

-Always really hungry when you feed it?

-Yeah.

-Right.

0:26:040:26:10

There's still no sign of Socks. Helen opts for a more potent bait to lure her inside.

0:26:100:26:17

Have you got any tuna or anything? Anything quite strong smelling?

0:26:170:26:22

Can you put a little tuna brine in a dish for me? I'll see if that will attract it.

0:26:220:26:28

Helen's now relying on Emma to detain the deserted cat

0:26:280:26:32

when it eventually reappears.

0:26:320:26:35

Thank you. Bye.

0:26:350:26:38

When Emma's caught Socks, Helen will be back to collect her.

0:26:390:26:44

She'll then have to find her a new and more caring owner to live with.

0:26:440:26:48

Socks is just one of nearly 5,000 abandoned cats that are rescued by the RSPCA every year.

0:26:530:27:00

But for every feline that's unwanted, there are those owners who can't bear to be separated.

0:27:030:27:09

We are going to our next job now. Apparently there's a cat or kitten that's tethered in the back garden.

0:27:090:27:17

The rope's attached to its collar.

0:27:170:27:19

It has no shelter or anything. I don't know why anyone would want to tether a cat.

0:27:190:27:25

Maybe they think it'll run off. I'm just going to take a look.

0:27:250:27:29

Tethering a cat by its collar can prove fatal.

0:27:290:27:34

Helen needs to establish if there is any truth in this unusual complaint.

0:27:340:27:38

-Hello. Sorry to bother you. RSPCA. We've had a call about a cat tethered in the back garden.

-No.

0:27:420:27:48

-It's young...

-Right.

-Come in.

0:27:480:27:51

Inside, owner Paul Brown is proud to show Helen his much-loved new kitten called Tiddles.

0:27:510:27:57

Where's the rope? Outside?

0:27:570:28:00

Paul admits he has been tying Tiddles up in the back yard.

0:28:020:28:06

He's terrified she'll run away.

0:28:060:28:08

It seems he didn't realise just how dangerous this could be.

0:28:080:28:12

You can't tether a cat because they have different neck structure.

0:28:120:28:17

So if she doesn't know she's tethered and she goes to run off - she's only a little 'un -

0:28:170:28:24

she's going to strangulate herself.

0:28:240:28:27

-If you're letting her out for the first time, keep her hungry.

-She tried to jump out.

-She will.

0:28:270:28:33

She'll be off, but she'll come back. I promise.

0:28:330:28:36

It's natural for cats to explore their territory,

0:28:360:28:41

but Paul is worried his precious pet might get lost.

0:28:410:28:46

To give him some extra reassurance, Helen turns to technology.

0:28:460:28:50

We'll microchip her for you. If she does run off and she's found, you'll get her straight back.

0:28:500:28:56

Hold really tight onto her. Mind your fingers.

0:28:570:29:01

Oh, good girl.

0:29:010:29:04

Tiddles is clearly well loved. Although her flatmate might sometimes yearn for peace and quiet,

0:29:040:29:10

her family are desperate to keep her close. Helen lets Paul in

0:29:100:29:14

on her tried and tested method of luring cats back home.

0:29:140:29:19

If she does run off, don't panic! If you can't find her, go and get a tin of tuna or something.

0:29:190:29:26

Get some of that and she'll come. They're food orientated, cats.

0:29:260:29:30

-They'll come for tuna.

-She does as well, the dog.

-Yeah.

0:29:300:29:36

-All right, thank you. Bye.

-Ta-ra.

0:29:360:29:38

The family promises never to tether Tiddles again.

0:29:390:29:43

Helen leaves happy that this was all down to Paul being a bit of an over-protective parent.

0:29:430:29:50

He was just scared that it's never going to come back, so he put it on a lead.

0:29:500:29:55

He's not just tethering it 24/7 and never looking at it.

0:29:550:30:00

He just needed advice telling him not to do that.

0:30:000:30:04

Still to come: Socks is caught but has her life on the streets taken its toll?

0:30:100:30:17

We're going to look in the belly for any little kittens. It should tell us if she's pregnant or not.

0:30:170:30:23

It's quite an accurate technique to use.

0:30:230:30:26

The ability to handle animals of all shapes and sizes in difficult and challenging circumstances

0:30:300:30:36

is all part and parcel of work with the RSPCA. Earlier, we saw Animal Collection Office Justin Stubbs

0:30:360:30:42

help to rescue two ducklings trapped next to a water wheel.

0:30:420:30:47

His latest call out is to something more creepy than cute.

0:30:470:30:51

The fens of East Anglia, landscape that can be dark and brooding.

0:30:580:31:03

It's a location that perfectly befits the creature Justin Stubbs has just been called out to collect.

0:31:050:31:13

I'm going to a removal firm in the fens. They have a spider that a couple of members of staff found

0:31:130:31:20

that looks bizarre. They've never seen one like this.

0:31:200:31:24

They're worried that it's a foreign spider and could be venomous or something.

0:31:250:31:31

It's not unheard of for spiders to hitch a lift on various deliveries.

0:31:310:31:36

We regularly get calls to various supermarkets or houses because of something weird on their red grapes.

0:31:360:31:43

As an Animal Collection Officer, Justin has to confront all sorts of creatures,

0:31:430:31:49

-but today's assignment gives him the jitters.

-I hope it is a British spider!

0:31:490:31:54

I'm arachnophobic. I really don't like spiders. Pretty terrified.

0:31:540:32:00

I jump on the sofa if there's a spider coming, so fingers crossed it's British.

0:32:000:32:06

The strange spider has been found by Andrew and Christina Cannon.

0:32:080:32:12

Fortunately for Justin, they've managed to catch it.

0:32:120:32:16

It's not quite a tarantula.

0:32:160:32:19

-Hiya.

-Hello.

-RSPCA, come about your spider.

0:32:190:32:23

The big question is can Justin conquer his fear?

0:32:230:32:27

-We put him in these little cups.

-Lovely. That's a relief.

0:32:270:32:31

Safely contained in the cup, Justin needn't panic,

0:32:310:32:35

but he does have to identify the mysterious arachnid.

0:32:350:32:39

I'm going to go with "It's something strange," actually.

0:32:390:32:44

The markings on its abdomen suggest this small spider could pack a deadly punch.

0:32:440:32:51

He's not one I recognise.

0:32:510:32:53

He's the right shape and markings for a Black Widow, but it's too big. And he has faint red dots on him.

0:32:530:33:01

This is a potentially dangerous creature.

0:33:010:33:04

It's vital Justin finds out exactly what species it is.

0:33:040:33:09

-Any idea where he's come from?

-We do removals all over the world, so we don't really know.

0:33:090:33:15

The last one we did was only Europe.

0:33:150:33:17

The stowaway spider was discovered in the firm's warehouse by two unsuspecting workers.

0:33:170:33:23

-We do a lot of export work.

-Yeah.

0:33:230:33:26

They were sorting out the blankets which are up there.

0:33:260:33:30

-That's where the little fella was actually sitting.

-OK.

0:33:300:33:34

Justin's got an idea what this wannabe black widow might actually be.

0:33:350:33:41

He decides to do a bit of spider sleuthing.

0:33:410:33:44

Yeah, a false black widow.

0:33:440:33:47

-Definitely looks more like that.

-Yeah.

0:33:470:33:50

Fortunately, this mimic is not as hazardous as its deadly cousin.

0:33:500:33:54

A real black widow, if I'm correct, is a bit more venomous than a false one.

0:33:540:33:59

It's a bit smaller, different environment.

0:33:590:34:02

They've got similar markings, presumably to scare off various predators.

0:34:020:34:07

A false black widow, although it can give you a good bite, is a lot less dangerous than a real black widow.

0:34:070:34:13

But this doesn't help Justin when it comes to his arachnophobia.

0:34:130:34:18

-He looks friendly enough, doesn't he?

-Hmm.

-I think he liked you.

0:34:180:34:22

LAUGHTER

0:34:230:34:25

He can like somebody else at the other end!

0:34:250:34:28

To be certain that this isn't a lethal black widow,

0:34:290:34:33

Justin needs an expert's opinion.

0:34:330:34:35

The spider may be sealed inside a container,

0:34:350:34:39

but a jumpy Justin is not taking any chances.

0:34:390:34:42

Until I know for sure what he is, or she is, she can stay in the front with me where I can see her,

0:34:430:34:50

hideously close to my leg, but I know she's not going to get out of there and escape around the back.

0:34:500:34:56

I'm pretty sure he's one of these false black widows, but I'm no spider expert.

0:34:560:35:02

I'll let somebody else decide.

0:35:020:35:04

Certain types of false black widow spiders are native to the UK,

0:35:040:35:08

but no-one knows where this one has come from,

0:35:080:35:12

so its new home will be the Exotic Pet Refuge in Peterborough.

0:35:120:35:16

The centre is home to more than 400 different animals

0:35:210:35:26

from unwanted exotic pets to injured British wildlife.

0:35:260:35:30

Assistant manager Paddy Breslin will be looking after the refuge's newest resident.

0:35:310:35:37

-Hi, Paddy.

-Hiya.

0:35:400:35:43

Right, one spider...thing.

0:35:430:35:46

I'm hoping it's a false black widow.

0:35:460:35:48

Paddy thinks Justin has identified the spider correctly.

0:35:480:35:52

It does look like a false black widow.

0:35:520:35:55

What we're looking for, pretty much, is the colour on the back of it, rather than on the underside of it.

0:35:550:36:01

And I can't see any pattern at all on the underside of it.

0:36:010:36:05

But on the top of it, there is a faint pattern or colour,

0:36:050:36:11

which tells me it's a false black widow and a female.

0:36:110:36:15

And it seems Justin was right to be cautious when it came to handling the spider.

0:36:150:36:21

People can have allergies to the venom and that would affect them in a bigger way.

0:36:210:36:26

It could turn out fatal, but most of the time, it just causes swellings and they have to go to hospital.

0:36:260:36:33

Finally released from her plastic cup prison,

0:36:350:36:39

this false black widow spider will start a new life in this sealed vivarium,

0:36:390:36:44

which suits Justin down to the ground.

0:36:440:36:47

-He's going...

-Yeah, I'm more than happy to be getting rid of it to somebody as quickly as possible.

0:36:470:36:53

I can't stand them, as fascinating as they are,

0:36:530:36:58

and I'm delighted to get it into somewhere that can look after it

0:36:580:37:02

and it can have a long and happy life of up to six years, apparently.

0:37:020:37:06

Finally, we're back to Lancashire where RSPCA Inspector Helen Smith

0:37:150:37:20

has been dealing with unwanted and abandoned cats and kittens.

0:37:200:37:24

Earlier, Helen was called to a house in Nelson where the owners had moved on and left the cat behind.

0:37:240:37:31

On her last visit, she failed to catch her. Now she's back.

0:37:310:37:35

It's been three days since RSPCA Inspector Helen Smith was on the hunt for the missing moggy.

0:37:400:37:46

Socks has been living rough for several weeks, but now she's been caught by neighbour Emma Savage.

0:37:490:37:55

Hello, Socks. Hello.

0:37:560:37:59

Abandoned by her family, Socks seems keen to be finally getting some attention.

0:38:000:38:06

You're beautiful, aren't you?

0:38:060:38:08

Even as Helen gathers her up...

0:38:080:38:11

Good cat. I'll put you in the basket.

0:38:110:38:14

..Socks remains good-natured.

0:38:140:38:16

There we go. Come on then.

0:38:160:38:18

-Thank you.

-Thanks very much.

-No problem. Thanks very much. Bye!

0:38:180:38:23

It's a relief for Helen to finally catch this elusive moggy, but now there is a new concern.

0:38:230:38:29

Socks has been living rough for several weeks. Helen is worried she might be pregnant.

0:38:290:38:35

The people who left it may not have made any arrangements for it to be fed or given water, shelter.

0:38:350:38:42

It's been thrown out on to the streets, which is fine for a feral cat,

0:38:420:38:46

but not for a cat that's used to being in a home.

0:38:460:38:50

Helen heads to Tyldesley Vet Surgery where Socks will be given a thorough examination.

0:38:510:38:58

-Hello.

-Hello.

0:38:590:39:01

-Right.

-What have you brought us?

0:39:010:39:03

This is just a cat that we've found. It's apparently been abandoned.

0:39:030:39:08

The owners moved out of the house. Somebody else has moved into the house now.

0:39:080:39:13

The neighbour's been feeding it for about two or three days.

0:39:130:39:17

-She's only just discovered that it's been kicked out.

-Let's have a look.

0:39:170:39:21

-I'm just thinking, if she's female and she's been out...

-Do you have any estimate of the age?

-No idea.

0:39:210:39:27

The next-door neighbour didn't know.

0:39:270:39:30

Vet Gareth Jones begins his checks.

0:39:310:39:34

-She's got lovely teeth, so she looks quite young. She's probably close to one.

-Right.

0:39:340:39:39

-She seems a nice, friendly cat.

-Yeah, she's lovely.

0:39:390:39:43

Socks is in good health.

0:39:430:39:45

-She looks in lovely condition.

-Yeah.

0:39:450:39:47

But Gareth is also suspicious about her swollen tummy.

0:39:470:39:51

It feels quite large, but I can't say that there's definitely kittens in there.

0:39:510:39:56

-We'll ultrasound her first.

-The neighbour did say she has been chased a lot by other cats.

0:39:560:40:02

They wouldn't leave her alone.

0:40:020:40:04

Gareth needs to do further examination to confirm if Socks is expecting kittens.

0:40:040:40:09

Her tummy is shaved ready for an ultrasound scan.

0:40:110:40:16

We're going to have a look in the belly to see if there's any kittens in there or not.

0:40:160:40:21

It's quite an accurate technique to use to see if she's pregnant.

0:40:210:40:26

But it's soon clear that Socks's big belly is simply due to her over-generous neighbours.

0:40:260:40:32

-All I'm seeing is a biggish bladder in there, but no signs of any kittens at all.

-That's good news.

0:40:320:40:38

See you soon.

0:40:380:40:40

Socks is given a clean bill of health and with no kittens to worry about,

0:40:400:40:45

she can now begin to recover from her life on the streets.

0:40:450:40:49

It's OK.

0:40:500:40:53

Two months later

0:40:540:40:56

and Socks has been found a new home.

0:40:560:40:59

But she seemed to quite like living by her wits,

0:41:010:41:05

so she's been given a new life that will suit her down to the ground.

0:41:050:41:09

Together with her friend Boots, she's now living at the local mounted police stables

0:41:090:41:15

as the resident rat-catcher.

0:41:150:41:18

Inspector John Hornby is in charge of her care.

0:41:180:41:21

Once Socks and Boots have settled in, hopefully, they'll become natural pest control

0:41:210:41:27

and they'll go round the premises and make sure there's no vermin.

0:41:270:41:31

They've been a pet at one stage and, for whatever reason, they've been abandoned,

0:41:320:41:37

so it's nice to show the animals that there is a second chance.

0:41:370:41:41

Kicked out of her old home, Socks was forced to look out for herself.

0:41:410:41:45

Now those life skills are going to come in very useful

0:41:460:41:50

in a home where she's sure to get plenty of love and attention.

0:41:500:41:54

Soon, they'll be swaggering around like they own the place, so they'll fit right in with everybody here.

0:41:540:42:01

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

0:42:060:42:12

there are people out there who will answer your call right around the clock.

0:42:120:42:17

They are who we meet on Animal 24:7.

0:42:170:42:20

-'Next time on Animal 24:7...'

-Right, put it down.

0:42:220:42:27

'..the huge operation to rescue over 300 animals from a life of squalor.'

0:42:270:42:31

The conditions in every room were really horrendous, really bad. You had to wear a mask.

0:42:310:42:37

Just not pleasant at all.

0:42:370:42:39

'An emergency call-out to a deer hit by a car...'

0:42:390:42:43

The deer's here on the road. What do you think, Les?

0:42:430:42:47

It doesn't look good.

0:42:470:42:49

'And straight from the horse's mouth, a chance to see what's really troubling Victor.'

0:42:490:42:56

He should have six teeth along the top here and he's actually missing all of them.

0:42:560:43:02

Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd 2010

0:43:230:43:27

Email [email protected]

0:43:270:43:31

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

RSPCA Inspector Helen Smith deals with a variety of feline distress calls and Justin Stubbs has to tackle his arachnophobia after a potentially deadly spider is found by a removal firm.


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