Episode 15 Animal 24:7


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS


Episode 15

The massive operation to rescue hundreds of chinchillas, chipmunks and rabbits from a life of squalor and the sad story of Victor, the old and toothless horse.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to Episode 15. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

Britain's animals are under threat.

0:00:040:00:06

All too often, our wildlife and domestic pets

0:00:060:00:09

are the victims of cruelty, persecution and neglect.

0:00:090:00:12

Fighting to save them is a dedicated band of people

0:00:120:00:16

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

0:00:160:00:19

This is Animal 24:7.

0:00:190:00:22

Today on Animal 24:7.

0:00:430:00:45

Right, put it down.

0:00:450:00:47

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

0:00:470:00:51

The conditions in every room was pretty much the same, it was horrendous, really bad.

0:00:510:00:56

We had to wear a mask. Just not pleasant at all.

0:00:560:01:00

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

0:01:000:01:03

OK. Deer's down there on the road. What do you think, Les, so far?

0:01:030:01:07

Doesn't look good. Right, Sharon, let's get a drip in it.

0:01:070:01:10

And straight from the horse's mouth -

0:01:100:01:12

a chance to see what's really troubling Victor.

0:01:120:01:15

He should have six teeth along the top here

0:01:160:01:19

and he's actually missing all of them.

0:01:190:01:22

It started as a straightforward call

0:01:260:01:29

to a small terraced house in Gateshead

0:01:290:01:31

but what RSPCA officers found when they got there

0:01:310:01:34

was far from normal.

0:01:340:01:37

In dozens of cages, there were hundreds of rabbits,

0:01:370:01:40

chinchillas, chipmunks and hamsters.

0:01:400:01:43

But even that was just the start of the story.

0:01:430:01:46

It's four o'clock in the afternoon

0:01:500:01:52

and in these barns near Newcastle, a huge operation is underway.

0:01:520:01:56

Cage after cage of animals are arriving in a fleet of vans.

0:01:580:02:02

Right, put it down.

0:02:040:02:06

OK, I've covered the hole.

0:02:060:02:08

It all started after the RSPCA received a tip-off.

0:02:080:02:12

This led them to a house that was home to dozens of hamsters,

0:02:120:02:15

gerbils, chinchillas and chipmunks.

0:02:150:02:17

RSPCA Inspector Michelle Penny is one of many helping on this mammoth task.

0:02:200:02:25

I believe that it was breeding, he's been breeding the animals,

0:02:250:02:29

and it looks like it's got completely out of control.

0:02:290:02:32

Nobody can keep on top of that amount of animals.

0:02:320:02:35

As you can see from the conditions,

0:02:350:02:37

there's months' worth of just faeces, urine,

0:02:370:02:40

old feed, old bedding, it just accumulated in the cages

0:02:400:02:45

and it's just non-manageable.

0:02:450:02:47

This is going to be a long job.

0:02:470:02:49

It's estimated there could be as many as 200 animals to deal with.

0:02:490:02:53

The state of their cages is appalling

0:02:530:02:55

but that's nothing compared to where they came from.

0:02:550:02:58

These RSPCA pictures reveal the shocking conditions

0:03:030:03:07

in which these pets were kept.

0:03:070:03:09

In every room, they're stacked floor to ceiling.

0:03:090:03:13

Months of dirt and faeces line their cages

0:03:140:03:17

and cover the carpet and walls.

0:03:170:03:20

After being tipped off, the RSPCA took action.

0:03:200:03:24

The breeder has agreed to sign over all of his animals,

0:03:240:03:27

so now the real work has begun.

0:03:270:03:30

Every single cage needs cleaning out and the animals need to be checked.

0:03:300:03:34

With so many to deal with, it's going to take quite a while.

0:03:340:03:37

Right, somebody be in charge of that.

0:03:380:03:40

Right, get that over there.

0:03:400:03:42

Most of these animals are not used to being handled.

0:03:430:03:46

..at that sort of distance.

0:03:460:03:47

It's a tricky job.

0:03:470:03:49

If we can get the front to loosen, we'll put it back in the cage.

0:03:500:03:54

He want to go in with his things.

0:03:540:03:57

There's five chipmunks in this cage. It's not large enough for them.

0:03:570:04:02

You can see on the bottom of the cage, there's months' worth of food, bedding.

0:04:020:04:06

Just faeces, everything's down there.

0:04:060:04:08

Some of them we're cleaning out have six, seven inches' worth of faeces

0:04:080:04:13

and it was actually all solid,

0:04:130:04:15

so when we've removed the metal part of the cage up,

0:04:150:04:19

it was all stuck to the metal of the cage, not actually the base.

0:04:190:04:24

We've had to rake through all the mess

0:04:240:04:26

to make sure there's no babies there, especially with the hamsters.

0:04:260:04:29

They were burrowing under and the babies were in all the mess.

0:04:290:04:33

So we had to make when we were tipping it out

0:04:330:04:36

there was no babies involved.

0:04:360:04:37

It's 6PM and as fast as the team can deal with the rescued animals,

0:04:400:04:45

new consignments are arriving all the time.

0:04:450:04:47

If I could put them somewhere else...

0:04:470:04:50

Dave Dawson has been part of the operation since it started.

0:04:500:04:53

There is a lot of people

0:04:550:04:56

and a lot of us have been on duty for over 12 hours now

0:04:560:04:59

and coming up to 13 hours, so it's been a long day.

0:04:590:05:02

The conditions in every room was pretty much the same.

0:05:020:05:05

It was really horrendous, really bad.

0:05:050:05:07

We had to wear a mask. Just not pleasant at all.

0:05:070:05:10

This latest consignment contains cages holding 59 chinchillas.

0:05:110:05:16

You can still see the dirt all laying on the bottom of the cages.

0:05:160:05:21

There's quite a few chinchillas in there.

0:05:210:05:23

Every single cage inside this trailer is in a dreadful state.

0:05:230:05:27

You see on the side of this cage where the faeces are spilling over the top.

0:05:270:05:31

This was full, from the bottom level down there up to here,

0:05:310:05:35

was full of faeces,

0:05:350:05:37

so the chinchillas were sitting on top of about eight or nine inches

0:05:370:05:42

of dirt.

0:05:420:05:43

These conditions are appalling for any animal.

0:05:450:05:48

For chinchillas, who have the densest fur in the animal kingdom,

0:05:480:05:52

it's even worse.

0:05:520:05:53

I personally own two chinchillas myself

0:05:540:05:56

and I know from my own experience

0:05:560:05:58

that for a cage to get in this state

0:05:580:06:00

it would take months, if not a good year, of not being cleaned out.

0:06:000:06:04

It's now 8 o'clock and as the operation continues,

0:06:040:06:08

there's a life or death situation in one of the barns.

0:06:080:06:11

The farm is intended to be a safe haven for the animals.

0:06:120:06:15

MEOWING

0:06:160:06:17

But it seems certain local residents have mistaken the operation

0:06:170:06:20

for a meals on wheels service.

0:06:200:06:23

I'm just moving them into a safer location

0:06:240:06:26

because as you can see, it's not very safe round here for the rodents

0:06:260:06:30

with cats being around.

0:06:300:06:32

Day is quickly turning into night

0:06:340:06:37

and finally, the team seems to be making progress.

0:06:370:06:40

That's us getting the last of the chinchillas in now.

0:06:400:06:43

A lot of us have been working on this case since half ten this morning,

0:06:430:06:47

so that's 11 hours, coming up onto 12 hours.

0:06:470:06:50

So it will be good just to get the final lot in, nice clean cages,

0:06:500:06:54

fed and watered, and that'll be us for the evening.

0:06:540:06:56

With the cages cleaned,

0:07:030:07:04

Michelle gets a chance to check the animals' health.

0:07:040:07:07

Yeah, I would say this one's 8 to 12 weeks old, still a young one.

0:07:070:07:11

It feels in good condition.

0:07:110:07:13

Its eyes are nice and bright, its nose is clear,

0:07:130:07:15

which is the first things I look for.

0:07:150:07:17

I'm surprised they're in good condition, considering the mess.

0:07:170:07:21

It's half-past ten at night

0:07:220:07:23

and finally this massive operation appears to be drawing to a close.

0:07:230:07:27

Incredibly, the final count of animals stands at 207.

0:07:270:07:32

But just as the officers are preparing to head home,

0:07:340:07:37

they receive another tip-off.

0:07:370:07:39

They've just been told this breeder also keeps animals

0:07:390:07:42

on a local allotment.

0:07:420:07:43

The team can only imagine what's waiting there.

0:07:430:07:46

Still to come.

0:07:530:07:54

-Hello, again.

-Hello.

0:07:540:07:55

The RSPCA comes face to face with the breeder.

0:07:550:07:59

-So what are you doing down here?

-Sorry?

-What are you doing down here?

0:07:590:08:02

And...

0:08:020:08:04

It really is turning into like a busy night at casualty, this one.

0:08:040:08:08

We've got patients coming in all the time,

0:08:080:08:10

one being fixed, another one on the table.

0:08:100:08:13

Horses are herd animals that can suffer when they're kept alone.

0:08:160:08:20

They also need a lot of care and attention,

0:08:200:08:22

especially when they're getting old.

0:08:220:08:24

So when you consider all of that, the horse in this next story

0:08:240:08:28

is really having a miserable time.

0:08:280:08:30

This is Victor, an old horse who's cold, wet and very lonely.

0:08:420:08:47

His owners have left him behind in a field outside some gas works.

0:08:500:08:54

Do you want your breakfast? Oh, whicker, whicker.

0:08:550:08:58

Good boy.

0:08:590:09:01

Cardiff horse warden Lucy Hamblett was the first person to notice Victor's plight

0:09:010:09:06

and soon discovered he had even more problems.

0:09:060:09:09

Victor has lost most of his teeth.

0:09:090:09:11

All right?

0:09:110:09:12

He's been struggling to eat,

0:09:120:09:15

so Lucy has been mixing grass pellets with water

0:09:150:09:18

to make meal time easier.

0:09:180:09:19

I found Victor on a routine scout round the area.

0:09:210:09:25

I thought he was a cow to start off with until we took a closer look.

0:09:250:09:29

With no teeth, the survival rate isn't good at all.

0:09:290:09:34

He's unable to pick short shoots of grass.

0:09:340:09:37

As you can see round here, the grass is actually quite short.

0:09:370:09:41

The reeds aren't what they normally eat anyway.

0:09:410:09:45

So, yeah, if he was left in this paddock here,

0:09:460:09:49

he wouldn't make it through the winter

0:09:490:09:51

and it would be quite a long, slow, painful process for him.

0:09:510:09:55

The field is an old travellers' site.

0:09:550:09:57

Cardiff Council has been hoping that someone would come to claim Victor.

0:09:570:10:01

They'd even advertised to find his owner

0:10:010:10:04

but no-one's come back.

0:10:040:10:06

So now they've contacted Horse World,

0:10:110:10:13

the charity which cares for unwanted and unloved horses like Victor.

0:10:130:10:17

People have been fly tipping in this field,

0:10:200:10:23

so the first job for Sasha Holden and the team is to clear a pathway

0:10:230:10:27

so they can lead Victor out safely.

0:10:270:10:29

First impressions are that he looks very old.

0:10:300:10:33

He does look a little bit depressed but the weather's not with us

0:10:330:10:37

and that can make them look miserable anyway.

0:10:370:10:40

They don't know what Victor's been through or how nervous he is.

0:10:400:10:43

Sasha's colleague Jess is extremely careful as she approaches him...

0:10:430:10:47

armed with a head collar, some rope and a bucket of pony nuts.

0:10:490:10:53

While Jess is approaching him,

0:10:530:10:55

she'll be using body language to try to keep him as calm as possible.

0:10:550:11:00

So she's approaching from the side of him which is less aggressive.

0:11:000:11:03

She'll also be keeping her eyes down so she's not staring at him,

0:11:030:11:08

which again, makes horses want to go away from you.

0:11:080:11:11

He actually looks really relaxed and comfortable with people,

0:11:130:11:17

so that's really, really good news.

0:11:170:11:19

Despite being abandoned and the miserable time he's had,

0:11:200:11:24

Victor is as good as gold.

0:11:240:11:26

The next step is to prepare him for the journey.

0:11:260:11:28

Because we don't know if he's been in a lorry before,

0:11:300:11:33

we don't really know how well he's going to travel.

0:11:330:11:36

A little bandage on each leg, it can just help protect them from any knocks.

0:11:360:11:41

He just wants a good itch more than anything.

0:11:420:11:44

He's really itchy because he's got quite a lot of lice on him.

0:11:440:11:48

But he's a sweet chap, even though he's not sure of the feeling there.

0:11:480:11:53

He's not trying to kick me at all,

0:11:530:11:54

he's just saying, "That feels a little bit strange on my leg."

0:11:540:11:58

Sasha and Jess try their best to keep him as calm as possible.

0:12:050:12:09

Good lad.

0:12:110:12:13

Because we want him to be really calm when he travels,

0:12:130:12:16

we don't want to make it stressful for him, getting in there,

0:12:160:12:19

so we're taking our time.

0:12:190:12:22

It's not worth rushing.

0:12:220:12:23

Well done, Victor. See, it wasn't so bad.

0:12:230:12:25

Right, back to Horse World.

0:12:290:12:31

Now Victor makes the one-hour journey across the River Severn

0:12:360:12:39

from the gas works in Cardiff to Horse World in Bristol.

0:12:390:12:42

It's home to nearly 200 horses, who seem keen to have a nosy.

0:12:460:12:51

But even though he's pining for company,

0:12:510:12:53

Victor isn't allowed to make new friends just yet.

0:12:530:12:56

Here, fella. Good boy.

0:12:560:12:59

All right, sweetheart.

0:12:590:13:01

He needs to be kept in isolation for three weeks,

0:13:010:13:04

just in case he has any infectious diseases or illness.

0:13:040:13:08

The first job is to weigh Victor.

0:13:090:13:11

Although he's only slightly underweight,

0:13:110:13:14

it's clear he's started to deteriorate.

0:13:140:13:16

The worry now is whether he can eat well enough to stay strong.

0:13:160:13:21

-Hi, there.

-Hi, Henry.

0:13:220:13:24

So it's a moment that everyone dreads,

0:13:240:13:28

yet Victor desperately needs.

0:13:280:13:30

-Get some kit together and I'll have a look.

-Super.

0:13:300:13:32

An appointment with the dentist. NEIGHING

0:13:320:13:36

It's easy for Henry Bilson to see that Victor has no top teeth.

0:13:360:13:40

Good boy.

0:13:410:13:43

So it's essential his other teeth are in good condition

0:13:430:13:46

if he's to have any chance of building his strength back up.

0:13:460:13:50

Coming up, Victor's teeth are in the spotlight.

0:13:540:13:58

It could've been trauma, ie, a kick or a bash

0:13:580:14:02

and he's lost a lot of them.

0:14:020:14:04

It could be partly due to his old age.

0:14:040:14:07

And a heart-breaking decision for one animal lover.

0:14:070:14:11

This has really knocked the stuffing out of me.

0:14:110:14:15

We've all seen those signs

0:14:200:14:21

warning of the danger of deer crossing country roads

0:14:210:14:25

but sometimes even when alert, it's impossible to avoid a collision

0:14:250:14:29

with these unpredictable animals.

0:14:290:14:32

At Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital,

0:14:320:14:34

they get over 300 deer casualties in their emergency room every year,

0:14:340:14:39

the majority hit by cars.

0:14:390:14:42

I was there when they received their latest, urgent call-out.

0:14:420:14:46

Aylesbury.

0:14:540:14:56

I'm on the road with Les Stocker and his wildlife paramedics.

0:14:560:15:00

We're en route to the roe deer that has leapt out in front of a car.

0:15:000:15:04

OK, deer's down there on the road. What do you think, Les, so far?

0:15:090:15:13

Doesn't look good. Right, Sharon, let's get a drip in it.

0:15:130:15:16

-Yeah, just hold that. Just keep the head covered.

-Like that?

-Yeah.

0:15:180:15:22

'Now vet Jenny can attach a drip. This is a crucial first step.'

0:15:220:15:25

Why is it so important to get fluids in? Why is that urgent?

0:15:270:15:31

Well, when the body's gone into shock,

0:15:310:15:34

all the peripheral veins all close down

0:15:340:15:37

and all the blood concentrates on keeping the heart pumping.

0:15:370:15:41

-Right.

-So the outside starts to die

0:15:410:15:43

because if there's no blood supply, the cells die.

0:15:430:15:45

So get a drip in and that gets the whole circulation going again

0:15:450:15:49

and you can get drugs in there as well to help.

0:15:490:15:53

That's the life-saver. Do that first and everything else can take a little time.

0:15:530:15:57

'With the drip attached, Jenny checks for serious injuries.'

0:15:570:16:02

Can you feel any broken bones, Jenny?

0:16:030:16:06

I can feel a step in the spine

0:16:060:16:08

but there's not much going on with these.

0:16:080:16:11

There's not much going on? What do you mean?

0:16:110:16:13

There doesn't seem to be a lot of voluntary movement in the hindquarters.

0:16:130:16:17

'It's feared the deer has suffered spinal damage.

0:16:170:16:22

'It's secured on a stretcher, ready to be taken to Tiggywinkles.

0:16:220:16:27

'Once there it will be x-rayed and a full diagnosis made.'

0:16:270:16:30

She's stable at the moment. Let's get her back.

0:16:300:16:33

The collision has been traumatic for the car driver, Holly, too.

0:16:330:16:37

-Do you mind telling me how it happened?

-I was just on the way back from shopping

0:16:390:16:43

and it jumped straight in front of the car.

0:16:430:16:45

It didn't look too healthy. I didn't think it would survive.

0:16:450:16:49

-And how long have you been waiting here with the deer?

-About half an hour.

0:16:490:16:53

-I could see you when we arrived, you were...

-I'm used to horses.

0:16:530:16:57

-It's a bit smaller.

-Yeah.

0:16:570:16:59

Holly did the right thing, calling Tiggywinkles.

0:16:590:17:02

At least now this deer can get the treatment it needs.

0:17:020:17:05

After 15 minutes, we arrive back at HQ.

0:17:070:17:10

The deer was kicking up a bit on the way

0:17:130:17:15

and Jenny the vet had to give it a dose of Valium.

0:17:150:17:18

There it is, looking perky.

0:17:180:17:21

I can hold that or the stretcher.

0:17:210:17:23

She's had a lot of fluids. Look at the amount it's gone down.

0:17:230:17:26

I'll take that. I've got one crashing in there, can you see to it?

0:17:260:17:30

'As we get into the emergency room, it's all systems go.

0:17:310:17:34

'There are another two deer in surgery that need treatment.'

0:17:340:17:37

It really is all hands on deck, with three deer in the prep room at once,

0:17:400:17:45

this one that we picked up and two more that have come in.

0:17:450:17:48

That's right. This is all of a sudden.

0:17:480:17:51

'Sadly, one of the sick deer is too ill to be saved.'

0:17:510:17:54

-What's happening with that one, Jenny?

-Her heart has stopped.

0:17:540:17:58

'But for another, the prospects look better.

0:17:580:18:01

'It has injuries that Les thinks can be treated.'

0:18:010:18:04

-Ah, yeah.

-Stitched it up.

-That's a very typical injury, Tom,

0:18:050:18:08

that we've seen a lot of in fallow deer.

0:18:080:18:10

Normal fences with the two wires along the top

0:18:100:18:13

and they jump it and get one leg left behind caught in the wires.

0:18:130:18:16

That's a very common injury. We try to save the foot.

0:18:160:18:19

The hip sometimes comes out. Is that hip out?

0:18:190:18:22

-It feels slightly swollen.

-So we need an x-ray on that one as well.

0:18:220:18:25

-Right.

-OK.

0:18:270:18:30

'With those two dealt with, our deer is next in line.

0:18:300:18:33

'It's sedated before the x-ray.

0:18:330:18:36

'Les and his team deal with deer that have been hit by cars every day.

0:18:360:18:40

'Some can be saved but if the back is broken,

0:18:400:18:43

'there's little that can be done.'

0:18:430:18:45

These x-rays will pretty much give the verdict of life or death.

0:18:480:18:52

The symptoms don't look good.

0:18:520:18:54

Maybe the x-rays will show something less serious.

0:18:540:18:58

We'll know in a few minutes.

0:18:580:19:00

'The x-ray image comes through and it appears to show a break

0:19:000:19:04

'in the deer's spine.'

0:19:040:19:06

If you look at the floors of the vertebral bodies

0:19:060:19:09

and you've got a step up here.

0:19:090:19:11

-So it is probably a severed spinal cord, do you think?

-Yeah.

0:19:120:19:16

I would say so.

0:19:160:19:17

'Jenny wants to see a different angle

0:19:170:19:20

'but as the deer is manoeuvred...'

0:19:200:19:22

There you go.

0:19:220:19:23

'..Les finds more evidence to support the diagnosis.'

0:19:230:19:26

Oh, look, she's got a fracture there as well.

0:19:260:19:30

If her back was intact, that would be so painful,

0:19:300:19:33

you just couldn't hold her still.

0:19:330:19:35

Because her back's broken, she can't feel this.

0:19:350:19:38

So that's another clue that the nerve is severed.

0:19:380:19:41

It's so sad. The poor girl that hit it,

0:19:410:19:44

with these deer, you don't stand a chance.

0:19:440:19:46

They just come over the hedge, just like that,

0:19:460:19:48

and they land on top of you, sort of thing. You can't avoid them.

0:19:480:19:51

-Mm.

-And I'm glad she stopped

0:19:510:19:53

because a lot of people think they're breaking the law if they hit a deer, so they drive off

0:19:530:19:58

and leave the deer there.

0:19:580:19:59

She did the right thing. She stayed with it.

0:19:590:20:02

I said to her to get a blanket, cover its head

0:20:020:20:05

and that's the right thing to do.

0:20:050:20:06

We can get out there and try and do something for the deer.

0:20:060:20:09

'After several minutes, the second results are through

0:20:120:20:15

'and they confirm our worst fears.'

0:20:150:20:18

In that area, you've got that deviation of the spine, there.

0:20:180:20:21

You can see it really clearly.

0:20:210:20:24

The ladder rungs, if you'll forgive the amateur expression...

0:20:240:20:27

-Absolutely!

-..go up there

0:20:270:20:28

-and then it's off kilter.

-It's moved to the side.

0:20:280:20:31

So I would say we should probably euthanize the deer, unfortunately.

0:20:310:20:35

And there's nothing you can do to mend a broken spinal cord?

0:20:350:20:38

They can't even do it in humans.

0:20:380:20:40

If a human does it, they're in a wheelchair.

0:20:400:20:43

There's nothing you can do about it.

0:20:430:20:46

She'd never be able to use her back end,

0:20:460:20:48

so we'll have to put her to sleep.

0:20:480:20:50

It's a sad end but at least by calling Tiggy's,

0:20:510:20:55

the driver prevented the deer from suffering any longer.

0:20:550:20:58

Meanwhile, there is good news for the young fallow that was caught in the fence.

0:20:580:21:03

Les is confident this one will be saved.

0:21:030:21:06

For me, seeing Tiggy's emergency room full of so many deer

0:21:070:21:11

has been incredible.

0:21:110:21:13

'It's something Les and his team are used to

0:21:130:21:16

'but I've never witnessed anything like it.'

0:21:160:21:18

Is that pretty normal, the number of animals needing treatment,

0:21:180:21:22

all those deer?

0:21:220:21:23

Well, that's what happens here. We get animals the whole time

0:21:230:21:27

and deer take over the place because they're so big.

0:21:270:21:30

Probably only one's going to survive. Is that quite a normal ratio?

0:21:300:21:33

I'm afraid so. That's the unfortunate thing with deer.

0:21:330:21:36

I think, unfortunately, with road traffic accidents,

0:21:360:21:40

we can only look for one in three to survive.

0:21:400:21:43

But at least the ones that don't survive,

0:21:430:21:46

we can give them painkillers

0:21:460:21:48

and we can give them a nice, humane release, if you like.

0:21:480:21:51

They're not lying by the side of the road any more.

0:21:510:21:54

Later, proof there's still life in the old horse yet.

0:21:590:22:03

He got love-struck.

0:22:030:22:05

Wherever, she is, he is and vice versa.

0:22:050:22:08

They've built up a really close bond.

0:22:080:22:11

Earlier in the programme, we saw the aftermath of an operation

0:22:140:22:17

to remove over 200 animals from a house in Tyneside.

0:22:170:22:22

The breeder admitted to keeping them in unsuitable conditions

0:22:220:22:25

and agreed to sign them over.

0:22:250:22:27

Now, concern is growing once again,

0:22:270:22:30

as the RSPCA have received a tip-off

0:22:300:22:32

there could be more animals at another location.

0:22:320:22:35

Gateshead, and the RSPCA has received a tip-off

0:22:400:22:44

that the breeder is using these allotments to keep even more animals.

0:22:440:22:48

Chief Inspector Michelle Charlton has turned detective

0:22:510:22:54

and is searching for the suspect plot.

0:22:540:22:57

We've got hens and things down on that one.

0:22:570:23:00

We're just having a look round,

0:23:000:23:02

seeing if there's anything that would give us cause for concern.

0:23:020:23:05

It's like looking for a needle in a haystack at the moment.

0:23:050:23:08

Earlier today, Michelle interviewed the breeder.

0:23:090:23:12

He denied keeping animals at the allotments.

0:23:120:23:14

He denied even visiting them.

0:23:140:23:17

Come down to the main road.

0:23:170:23:19

Michelle now wants to find out if he's telling the truth.

0:23:190:23:23

Let's see if we can go down the bottom and look up.

0:23:230:23:25

Small animals don't bark or make a noise

0:23:250:23:28

to let you know whether they're there.

0:23:280:23:30

Find the precise plot is proving tough, though.

0:23:300:23:33

We need to find somebody who might know something.

0:23:330:23:36

But then Michelle gets a lucky break.

0:23:400:23:42

She bumps into the site owner and his wife.

0:23:420:23:45

They know the breeder very well.

0:23:450:23:47

The man, who's called Alan, leads Michelle to a shed

0:23:480:23:51

at the back of the plot,

0:23:510:23:53

where she makes a surprising discovery.

0:23:530:23:55

-Hello, again.

-Hello.

0:23:550:23:57

It's the breeder.

0:23:590:24:02

You said you didn't come down the allotment any more.

0:24:020:24:05

Time for more questions.

0:24:050:24:07

-So what are you doing down here, then?

-Sorry?

-What are you doing?

0:24:070:24:10

-Helping.

-Have you got animals here, have you?

-No, I haven't.

0:24:100:24:14

He hasn't.

0:24:140:24:16

-But you did have until recently?

-Yeah.

-What did you have here?

0:24:160:24:19

Some rabbits.

0:24:190:24:21

-And where have they gone now?

-And some guinea pigs. I think they're still here.

0:24:210:24:25

-You think they're still here?

-I don't know.

0:24:250:24:28

He admits to keeping rabbits and guinea pigs here

0:24:290:24:33

but he's now given them to Alan, who also keeps his own animals.

0:24:330:24:37

This case has suddenly become much more complicated.

0:24:390:24:42

You're dropping me in it here, man.

0:24:420:24:45

-It's me that's...

-Do you want to look at ours?

0:24:450:24:47

Inside Alan's shed, it's clear he's struggling to cope, too.

0:24:470:24:51

All the animals are living in dirty, cramped conditions.

0:24:510:24:55

Michelle wants to know why Alan and his wife took on the animals.

0:24:560:25:01

They claim it's because the breeder wasn't caring for them properly.

0:25:010:25:06

We said, "Yeah, we'll take them on and feed them up.

0:25:060:25:09

"We can't let them die."

0:25:090:25:11

-So it's costing us an arm and a leg to feed the ones we've had to take from him.

-Mm-hm.

0:25:110:25:17

And he hasn't told these that he's had a rabbits and guinea pigs.

0:25:170:25:20

Because you've ended up taking on animals that you didn't want,

0:25:200:25:24

you can sign them over to the RSPCA as yours and we can take them

0:25:240:25:27

but then we need to look at your animals

0:25:270:25:29

to make sure that you're complying with the Animal Welfare Act.

0:25:290:25:32

The size of your cages are far too small.

0:25:320:25:36

If they're going to take his away, I would like them to take them away,

0:25:360:25:40

and that means more room for mine.

0:25:400:25:42

Alan agrees to sign over the extra animals that he took on from the breeder

0:25:430:25:48

but he wants to keep his own.

0:25:480:25:50

Michelle's not satisfied.

0:25:500:25:52

She thinks there will still be too many animals for Alan to cope with.

0:25:520:25:56

If an independent vet agrees,

0:25:580:26:00

Alan may be forced to give up his own rabbits and guinea pigs, too.

0:26:000:26:04

The animals can't really stay here.

0:26:050:26:07

The way he's keeping his isn't conducive to animal welfare.

0:26:070:26:11

To get them out, I need vans, I need transport.

0:26:110:26:14

Ideally, we need a vet.

0:26:140:26:16

This is the joys of this job!

0:26:160:26:18

Thinking on your feet and deciding what to do.

0:26:180:26:20

Michelle immediately calls for a vet and RSPCA assistance.

0:26:220:26:26

It's rabbits and guinea pigs,

0:26:260:26:28

so if you could help with moving them, that would be useful.

0:26:280:26:31

Thank you, Jackie.

0:26:310:26:33

After half an hour, vet Graham Chambers arrives on the scene

0:26:330:26:38

to assess the conditions for all the animals.

0:26:380:26:41

Obviously, looking at the size of the cages

0:26:410:26:44

for the animals that are in there,

0:26:440:26:46

the main thing is that we can see how they're cramped.

0:26:460:26:50

They're cramped, there's a lack of bedding

0:26:500:26:52

and there's the smell of the ammonia.

0:26:520:26:54

Graham concludes that the way the animals are kept is poor

0:26:540:26:58

and do not reach the standards set by the Animal Welfare Act.

0:26:580:27:01

Frequently, animal owners like Alan are simply unaware

0:27:050:27:08

of what the law now requires of them.

0:27:080:27:11

We've obviously got to look at educating people

0:27:120:27:15

and making people more aware of what is expected nowadays

0:27:150:27:19

for looking after these animals

0:27:190:27:20

and giving them decent bedding and cages and welfare for these animals.

0:27:200:27:25

The team begin to remove the breeder's rabbits and guinea pigs.

0:27:250:27:30

Now Michelle can turn her attention to Alan.

0:27:300:27:34

She wants him to realise that the way he's keeping his animals is unacceptable.

0:27:340:27:38

But it all gets a bit too much.

0:27:380:27:40

This has really knocked the stuffing out of me.

0:27:400:27:45

We're giving him time to think about it

0:27:450:27:47

because I'm not happy with the way he's keeping his animals

0:27:470:27:51

but he's been dropped in it because of the other guy,

0:27:510:27:54

so if he wants to sign them over and he does it willingly, that's the best way forward

0:27:540:27:59

and I'll be able to go away happy the animals are being looked after

0:27:590:28:03

and things are going to be better.

0:28:030:28:06

Alan has a hard decision to make.

0:28:060:28:08

He's left to reflect on what's best for his animals

0:28:080:28:10

but can he bear to let them go?

0:28:100:28:12

Still to come.

0:28:230:28:25

What about a compromise?

0:28:250:28:26

We could take half of them tonight and leave you with half.

0:28:260:28:31

This has really sickened me, now.

0:28:310:28:33

Now we return to the story of Victor,

0:28:370:28:40

the poor old toothless horse found abandoned

0:28:400:28:42

outside a gas works in Cardiff.

0:28:420:28:44

When we left him, Victor had just arrived at the charity Horse World

0:28:440:28:49

and now it's time for that long-overdue visit to the dentist.

0:28:490:28:53

Everyone's worried about the state of Victor's teeth.

0:29:000:29:03

So specialist horse dentist Henry Bilson is taking a closer look.

0:29:060:29:10

You can see from here he's actually missing his upper row of incisors.

0:29:120:29:17

He should have six teeth along the top here

0:29:170:29:20

and he's actually missing all of them.

0:29:200:29:23

There's no way of knowing how Victor lost all those teeth.

0:29:240:29:27

It could've been a trauma,

0:29:280:29:30

ie, a kick or a bash and he's lost a lot of them.

0:29:300:29:34

It could be partly due to his old age

0:29:340:29:37

that they'd become very worn and then have eventually fallen out.

0:29:370:29:41

Or it could've been due to cribbing,

0:29:410:29:45

which is where a horse grabs a hard object

0:29:450:29:47

and pulls on it all the time

0:29:470:29:49

and over a period of years, this will wear the upper incisors very badly.

0:29:490:29:54

Now Henry needs to inspect the rest of Victor's teeth.

0:29:550:29:58

With the top ones missing,

0:29:580:30:00

it's essential his cheek teeth are in good condition.

0:30:000:30:03

If they aren't, this could cause major problems.

0:30:030:30:06

He has all his cheek teeth, which is very good news.

0:30:060:30:09

The bad news is that Victor's cheek teeth aren't in very good nick.

0:30:090:30:14

We've got all that grass packing in there,

0:30:150:30:17

which will be quite sore for him.

0:30:170:30:19

So we'll pick that out

0:30:190:30:21

and then we'll just take off all the sharp edges on his teeth

0:30:210:30:25

you can see here.

0:30:250:30:26

There's a little ulceration to his tongue by my finger.

0:30:260:30:29

This is from the sharp edges on the inside edge of the lower teeth.

0:30:290:30:33

Victor's going to need a lot of dental work

0:30:350:30:38

and for that, he'll need to be sedated.

0:30:380:30:40

So his next visit is from the vet, Nick Parkinson.

0:30:400:30:43

A bit difficult to tell the age with so few teeth there

0:30:450:30:49

but he's got to be probably in his thirties, I'd have thought.

0:30:490:30:53

The life expectancy of a horse is 25 to 30 years,

0:30:530:30:57

so in human terms, Victor is in his eighties.

0:30:570:31:01

That all sounds pretty good.

0:31:010:31:02

His heart and lungs are strong

0:31:020:31:04

and there are no signs of any serious illness,

0:31:040:31:07

so Nick is able to give Victor the sedative to help him through the dentistry.

0:31:070:31:11

Right, now he's looking nice and sleepy, we'll get to work.

0:31:150:31:20

Henry has to grind down the sharp edges of Victor's teeth,

0:31:230:31:26

which have been causing ulcers inside his mouth.

0:31:260:31:29

The grass between his teeth comes out as well.

0:31:290:31:31

OK, so this is the grass he's packing between two teeth.

0:31:360:31:39

Very smelly and horrible and quite sore for a horse.

0:31:390:31:43

The dentistry is over but there's no respite for the old boy.

0:31:440:31:47

Vet Nick returns to look at his skin problem.

0:31:470:31:51

Quite scurfy skin.

0:31:540:31:56

Yeah.

0:31:560:31:57

It seems Victor is riddled with lice.

0:31:570:32:00

All these things on the hair are eggs, here.

0:32:000:32:03

A few live ones, still.

0:32:040:32:06

So this should kill all the lice. He might need a second injection in ten to 14 days.

0:32:070:32:11

Victor can now relax.

0:32:130:32:14

And his newly polished teeth can finally get stuck into some food.

0:32:160:32:20

There we go, Victor.

0:32:210:32:23

See how you get on with that, lad.

0:32:230:32:25

Because of his lack of top teeth,

0:32:270:32:29

Victor will always need long grass for grazing.

0:32:290:32:32

During the winter, he'll need a special diet

0:32:320:32:35

but he's in the right place for this level of care and attention.

0:32:350:32:39

Well, he'll be able to have a really happy retirement here.

0:32:390:32:42

He'll be in a field with horses of a similar age that need similar care

0:32:420:32:47

and diet.

0:32:470:32:48

It's nice to have him here and he can have a nice retirement

0:32:480:32:52

and live out the rest of his days peacefully.

0:32:520:32:54

Victor will spend his first three weeks in isolation

0:32:540:32:58

to check he isn't carrying any diseases.

0:32:580:33:00

But all horses love company

0:33:000:33:02

and what this lonely old-timer needs now is a new friend.

0:33:020:33:06

Five months later and there's some big news for Victor.

0:33:150:33:19

It seems the old horse has an eye for the ladies.

0:33:190:33:22

Manager Jo Vaughan has had her work cut out.

0:33:220:33:25

He came out of isolation into a field with some horses

0:33:260:33:30

because he'd lived a long time on his own.

0:33:300:33:32

And he got love-struck, very love-struck,

0:33:320:33:36

with a bit of a spring chicken.

0:33:360:33:38

Cos he's an old gentleman at 28.

0:33:380:33:40

He fell in love with a little Shetland pony.

0:33:400:33:43

He's very tottery on his old legs

0:33:430:33:46

and we ended up, we had to take the lady away from him

0:33:460:33:50

and give him a girlfriend more of his own age,

0:33:500:33:54

which has settled him down.

0:33:540:33:55

He's a lot calmer and he's quite happy now with his new girlfriend.

0:33:550:33:59

The new girlfriend is Honey

0:34:010:34:03

and Victor doesn't like being apart from her even for one second.

0:34:030:34:07

I've just brought Victor up for his bath

0:34:070:34:10

and he's getting really, really agitated because Honey isn't here,

0:34:100:34:13

so Sarah has brought Honey up to keep him a bit calmer

0:34:130:34:18

while he has his bath.

0:34:180:34:19

She's there!

0:34:190:34:21

It seems these two old horses are a match made in heaven.

0:34:250:34:29

Victor will take a couple of steps in front of Honey

0:34:290:34:33

and then won't go anywhere until Honey has walked in front of him.

0:34:330:34:37

Here she is. And we can go again.

0:34:390:34:41

Honey and Victor aren't exactly going to gallop off into the sunset together

0:34:480:34:52

but a bit of company and some long grass makes for a happy retirement.

0:34:520:34:57

They both need the same feeding regime this time of the year,

0:34:570:35:01

being very old and Victor having a lack of teeth.

0:35:010:35:05

They graze together constantly out in the field.

0:35:050:35:08

Wherever she is, he is and vice versa.

0:35:080:35:11

They've built up a really close bond.

0:35:110:35:14

Toothless and abandoned only just a few months ago,

0:35:160:35:19

old Victor is living proof that it's never too late to find romance.

0:35:190:35:23

Earlier in the programme,

0:35:330:35:35

we saw the RSPCA searching allotments in Gateshead.

0:35:350:35:38

They were told this was where a prolific breeder was keeping

0:35:380:35:42

dozens of rabbits and guinea pigs in bad conditions.

0:35:420:35:45

Although the animals were there, the breeder denied they were his.

0:35:450:35:49

He told Chief Inspector Michelle Charlton

0:35:490:35:52

that he'd given the animals to the allotment's owner,

0:35:520:35:55

a man called Alan.

0:35:550:35:57

Alan immediately agreed to sign them over to the RSPCA

0:35:570:36:01

but now there's another problem.

0:36:010:36:03

The first part of this allotment rescue is almost complete.

0:36:080:36:12

The team have removed the animals that belonged to the breeder.

0:36:120:36:15

But Alan's rabbits and guinea pigs are also in poor conditions.

0:36:160:36:20

I'll look after them. Come back in a week's time.

0:36:200:36:24

And he's trying to decide whether signing them over

0:36:240:36:27

is the kindest thing to do.

0:36:270:36:29

What about a compromise?

0:36:300:36:32

What about if we took half of them tonight and still left you with half?

0:36:320:36:36

-The cages here aren't big enough.

-This is it.

0:36:360:36:39

-We'll let you put that right, can't you see?

-No, just take them all.

0:36:390:36:44

That would be best.

0:36:440:36:45

This has really sickened me, now.

0:36:450:36:47

Just take them, pet.

0:36:490:36:50

With a heavy heart, Alan signs over his animals.

0:36:540:36:58

I've been pulled into this situation through him

0:36:580:37:01

and I'm really disgusted about it.

0:37:010:37:03

There's nothing else I can do about it.

0:37:030:37:06

Michelle lets him keep a couple of family favourites.

0:37:070:37:11

If you want to pick out two or three to keep for your granddaughter.

0:37:110:37:16

'That's a lot of animals for one person to look after.

0:37:160:37:19

'That was part of the problem.

0:37:190:37:20

'To look after that number of animals every day

0:37:200:37:23

'takes a lot of time and a lot of effort.

0:37:230:37:25

'But there's a new Animal Welfare Act.

0:37:270:37:29

'People need to look at the cage sizes and give the animals space.'

0:37:290:37:33

They need access to outside runs and fresh grass, that sort of thing.

0:37:330:37:37

It's something that Alan now understands.

0:37:370:37:40

But the lesson has been a painful one.

0:37:420:37:45

In the end the RSPCA removed over 300 animals.

0:37:530:37:57

Finding places for them to go will be a major operation.

0:38:000:38:04

The rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, chipmunks and chinchillas

0:38:060:38:10

have been dispersed to all points of the compass.

0:38:100:38:13

It's been a massive undertaking...

0:38:140:38:17

that's involved people from all over the country.

0:38:180:38:20

At the RSPCA home in Bawtry, South Yorkshire,

0:38:270:38:30

Alison Pring has been trying to find homes for these chipmunks for a month.

0:38:300:38:34

It's not easy when most visitors are only looking for cats and dogs.

0:38:360:38:40

We've had no interest in the rodents that we've currently taken in.

0:38:400:38:45

The chipmunks do have a lot of size requirements on the cages

0:38:450:38:50

and the cost of the cages can be quite prohibitive to a lot of people.

0:38:500:38:54

Obviously, they're not ideal pets for children, either,

0:38:540:38:58

because they're very hyperactive and just need space.

0:38:580:39:01

They're very much a visual pet rather than a handleable pet.

0:39:010:39:05

All we're desperately requiring at the moment

0:39:050:39:07

is for people to come forward and offer these animals a really nice home

0:39:070:39:11

and a happy future ahead of them.

0:39:110:39:13

Meanwhile in Northumberland, volunteer Brian is taking two rabbits

0:39:170:39:21

to vet Kerry Taverner.

0:39:210:39:23

They're about to have their health checks, ready to be rehomed.

0:39:230:39:26

We're going to check both of them over.

0:39:260:39:29

There's no known problems with them.

0:39:290:39:32

Just to make sure that they're fit and healthy.

0:39:320:39:34

We're going to vaccinate them today against myxomatosis,

0:39:340:39:37

which, as everybody knows,

0:39:370:39:39

is a very unpleasant and very common condition in wild rabbits.

0:39:390:39:44

For rabbits that are in high-risk areas,

0:39:440:39:46

it's recommended that they are vaccinated every six months.

0:39:460:39:50

Both these rabbits seem to be in good health.

0:39:500:39:53

They're beautiful rabbits, very placid, very gentle,

0:39:530:39:56

and hopefully they'll make very good pets for somebody.

0:39:560:39:59

Next stop for these rabbits is Kathy Fisher,

0:40:010:40:04

who's going to act as their foster carer until a new home is found.

0:40:040:40:07

-All right?

-Hello, Brian.

0:40:090:40:11

They're just lovely little rabbits. They're full of fun.

0:40:110:40:14

They're going to go to a really, really nice home.

0:40:140:40:17

They're going to neutered on Monday

0:40:170:40:19

and we'll keep them a couple of days, make sure they're all right.

0:40:190:40:22

I just think they've all got their own little characters.

0:40:220:40:26

They can be trained to be in the house. Kids have so much fun with them.

0:40:260:40:29

They're just lovely. They're just gorgeous.

0:40:290:40:32

Yeah! They're very gorgeous!

0:40:320:40:35

And 140 miles away,

0:40:390:40:41

there's a happy ending for this family of chinchillas.

0:40:410:40:44

They've travelled a long way from Tyneside

0:40:440:40:47

and found a new home with this family in Doncaster.

0:40:470:40:50

Nathalie...

0:40:500:40:51

Holly, Rebecca and Sammy.

0:40:510:40:54

Ooh! A poo.

0:40:550:40:57

They like animals in a big way.

0:40:570:40:59

-We've got ten chickens.

-Ten chickens, one dog.

0:40:590:41:03

-One dog.

-Two hamsters and...

0:41:030:41:07

three chinchillas.

0:41:070:41:09

So why take on three more?

0:41:090:41:12

When we went to the RSPCA, I saw the chinchillas

0:41:120:41:15

and I thought they was really cute.

0:41:150:41:18

I got Charlie, the dad, out of the cage

0:41:180:41:21

and he just snuggled up on me straight away.

0:41:210:41:23

I thought, "I've got to take him home with me."

0:41:230:41:26

They wasn't in a position where they was cared for before.

0:41:260:41:29

I think it's really good that they've got somewhere to be looked after properly.

0:41:290:41:33

This was a story that began with hundreds of small animals living in filth.

0:41:360:41:41

It involved dozens of rescuers, countless man hours,

0:41:410:41:45

and hundreds of road miles.

0:41:450:41:47

But it ends here with well cared for animals and appreciative owners.

0:41:480:41:53

If you think you know of a case of wildlife crime

0:42:000:42:03

or a creature that needs immediate protection,

0:42:030:42:06

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

0:42:060:42:10

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

0:42:100:42:12

Next time on Animal 24:7...

0:42:160:42:18

Concern for the dog lover living in a World War II bunker.

0:42:180:42:22

You shouldn't be in a state like that

0:42:220:42:25

but I'm here to help you.

0:42:250:42:27

All right, we can work together on this.

0:42:270:42:29

Oh, yeah. I'd rather do that than lose my dogs.

0:42:290:42:32

A breakthrough in the search for 11 missing donkeys.

0:42:320:42:36

We scanned this donkey here

0:42:360:42:39

and it turned out that he was a stolen donkey,

0:42:390:42:41

which leads me to suspect that the other two may well be stolen as well.

0:42:410:42:45

'And...'

0:42:460:42:47

Here at the Leeds Dogs Trust they're struggling with a new breed -

0:42:470:42:51

the sticky dog.

0:42:510:42:53

What's that all about?

0:42:530:42:55

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:160:43:18

E-mail subtitling@bbc.co.uk

0:43:180:43:20

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

The massive operation to rescue hundreds of chinchillas, chipmunks and rabbits from a life of squalor and the sad story of Victor - the old and toothless horse.