The police investigate after a family of swans is massacred in a brutal attack. Presenter Tom Heap is with the RSPCA investigating reports that goldfish are being kept in a toilet.
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Britain's animals are under threat.
All too often, our wildlife and domestic pets
are the victims of cruelty, persecution and neglect.
Fighting to save them is a dedicated band of people,
trying to protect and care for them around the clock.
This is Animal 24:7.
Today on Animal 24:7...
Killing for kicks - a sickening attack on a family of swans...
It doesn't matter how many times you see it,
every job you go to always affects you.
It shouldn't have to happen.
The tiny kittens who miss their mum...
These kittens are going to die if we don't intervene.
And are these fish about to go down the pan?
For most animals,
the first few weeks of maternal bonding are crucial.
For kittens, it's recommended they stay with their mothers
for at least two months.
It's during this period that mother's milk
is vital for nutrition and growth.
So if they're taken away too early, their lives CAN be in real danger.
On a Hull housing estate, two new-born kittens
have sparked an RSPCA investigation.
Meet Trouble and Precious.
They've just been sold by a man claiming they're seven weeks old,
but during routine vet checks, the buyer was told they were more
like four weeks old - much too young to be away from their mum.
And Trouble and Precious weren't the only kittens in the litter.
RSPCA inspector Sarah Keith has gone straight to the seller's house,
hoping that no more kittens have been sold.
Sarah is convinced this cat is the mother,
and she's been locked outside.
I can't see if there's anything in there.
The cat is desperate to get in, leaving Sarah in no doubt
that the remaining kittens are inside and they need their mum.
KNOCKING ON DOOR
These kittens are going to die if we don't intervene -
they can't feed themselves.
They need to be either bottle-fed by someone or, ideally, fed by Mum.
And she's not able to get in the house so...
There doesn't appear to be any answer.
But Sarah and student inspector Nicky Cheatham can't see or hear the kittens.
I can't see anybody.
I can't see any cats.
Sarah's becoming as anxious as Mum to get inside.
Being locked out away from her litter
totally goes against the cat's maternal instincts.
She's been doing everything she can to be a protective mother.
The mother cat is being really defensive of this territory.
She knows she's got young inside, or she thinks she's got them inside,
and she's trying to protect them.
She's just had a go at another cat
and a dog that walked past the property, so she's being a good mum.
But she's obviously not being allowed to do her job properly.
Unable to get to the kittens, Sarah decides to have a closer look at this frustrated mum.
She's obviously got enlarged teats.
She doesn't seem...
She seems to be quite dry which...
If he's preventing her from feeding, that will happen eventually.
She will just dry up and stop producing, but...
She's all right - she's not too thin or anything.
Not too bad. Just a bit scraggy, aren't you?
It's clear no-one's in, so Sarah and Nicky head round the back...
..where they're confronted by a large Rottweiler
who's obviously not happy with the intrusion.
But Sarah is desperate to see some sign of these kittens
and isn't going to give up too easily.
Fortunately, the dog is on a leash
so Sarah is able to take a look through the back window.
We can't really see if there's anything in there.
There is a bowl, an empty cat-food bowl with quite dried cat food on it,
and a bowl of water with some water in, but no sign of any kittens.
Even though she still can't see any kittens,
Sarah's not prepared to give up.
She leaves a card, asking the owner to get in touch.
It's now mid-afternoon, and Sarah and Nicky are back on the estate.
KNOCKING ON DOOR
The owner is home,
but he doesn't want the inspectors to see the kittens.
Right, if I need to, I can call the police and get us to do it that way,
but I'm handling the kittens whether you like it or not,
so I suggest you pass them over.
He tells Sarah there is no way she's taking his kittens away.
That depends on what they feel like when we get hold of them.
Finally, though, he allows Sarah and Nicky to examine the litter.
Hello. Hello, baby.
He's adamant the kittens ARE seven weeks old.
They're not seven weeks.
Sarah's patience is wearing thin -
she can tell these kittens are much younger than the owner is claiming,
certainly too young to be separated from their mother.
Is it a male or a female, that one?
I can't even tell - you're too tiny, aren't you? It's a little girl.
The kittens aren't in good health.
Sarah wants them signed over to the RSPCA
so she can take them and Mum straight to the vet's,
but the owner's not cooperating.
Are you going to give me permission to take these cats or not?
It's time to apply a bit more pressure.
Hi, I'm calling from the RSPCA. I need to request a police officer.
It's regarding some kittens that are in very poor condition
that have been taken away from their mother far too young.
Yeah, he's refusing to give me his last name,
he's refusing to let us in the property
and he's refusing to let us take the cats.
After several minutes, the police are on the scene
and the owner has a sudden change of heart.
He agrees to sign over the kittens to the RSPCA.
Although kittens can be weaned from around four weeks old,
they're nowhere near ready to go it alone.
They need their mother's milk to help them grow strong and protect them against infectious disease.
This litter are finally back with their mum.
And they're now on their way to the vet's to find out
whether being kept away from her has put their lives in danger.
Still to come...
Playing Mum - the large dog caring for two tiny kittens...
This is Tia who is going through a phantom pregnancy
because of the presence of these babies.
She's been looking after them like they are her own.
Well, done, big girl.
And words of warning for a dog owner accused of smacking her pet.
I'm just going to just warn you
that it's illegal for you to hit your dog, OK?
If you cause your dog an injury, you could potentially get
a very, very big fine or go to prison, all right?
It's a sad fact that an increasing number of animals
end up dying at the hands of thugs just killing for kicks.
Air rifles once used by kids just to take a pot shot
at a tin can or two are often trained on defenceless creatures.
In Gateshead, police have been called to a beauty spot,
but the sight that greets them is far from pleasant.
The tranquillity of this Tyneside nature reserve has been shattered
by a fatal gun attack on a family of swans.
The local police are first on the scene and they immediately call
RSPCA animal collection officer Jackie Thorpe.
We received a phone call this morning from the police alerting us
that there were four dead cygnets and one dead male swan.
The mother is still alive and we think
they appear to have been shot.
RSPCA inspector Tony Jackman begins the grim task of removing the dead swans from the water.
It doesn't matter how many times you see it - every case, every job you go to always affects you.
It shouldn't have to happen.
Then, assisted by a police diver,
Tony turns his attention to the cygnets.
I can see an injury on this one.
Yeah, that one's had one straight through the neck there, it seems.
That might have died quickly, that one, thankfully.
This is the male swan. He seems to have an injury on his head.
I think this is where the pellet's gone in.
Here we've got one of the young cygnets
with a wound injury to his neck there.
It's been very distressing for members of the public walking past
because they've been following them since they've been born.
Then, when they've come past this morning with the dogs...
To find them in this state must've been horrendous.
They discover that the swan is ringed.
A note is taken of its number so the Swans Trust can be told of his death.
-Brilliant. Thank you very much.
As awful as this massacre is for the local community,
it's heartbreaking for the remaining female. Swans form strong bonds
with their mates and are extremely protective of their young.
On top of that, she's injured and needs help.
So, I think if we start off over here
and sort of head through in this direction...
As Tony plans the rescue, Jackie can assess her condition from dry land.
We haven't seen her close up. When she's been swimming on the water,
it looks like she's got two injuries to her neck and one to her head.
But she's swimming well. So we're hopeful for her,
if we can get her to the vet soon.
Tony and the police diver take to the water with swan hooks
to try and catch the female, but they need to be careful.
Even when it's injured, catching a swan can be challenging.
The two inspectors, at the moment,
they're going to try and go round either side
and try and catch her and bring her back to shore.
But if not, they'll drive her back towards the shore.
It's very, very stressful for them to be caught.
While they're on the water, they've got a much quicker advantage over us,
whereas if they can get her towards the land,
we'll have a better chance of catching her.
Tony's just trying to put a swan hook round her neck.
The swan will be traumatised by the loss of her mate and cygnets.
She is understandably wary...
She's hiding under the bushes now.
..but she needs medical attention.
Even though she doesn't know what's good for her,
Tony and the rescue team do.
She's heading over to where the male was.
The swan seeks refuge in thick reeds where hooking her will be difficult.
Time for plan B - driving her towards the shore.
Getting through the bank of reeds will be harder for the inspectors, because it'll slow them up.
Oh, but now she's coming towards us.
-Just keep coming.
-She's coming your way.
Bring her back towards me, Tony. I might be able to get her from here.
Oh, well done.
The swan is covered in blood. If she had been left in the water any longer, she may not have survived.
Brilliant that we've caught her.
So, we can try to get her straight up to the vet's now,
and get her treated, hopefully.
As well as the wound on her back,
the swan appears to have been shot in the head.
-It's the top, isn't it?
-Possibly one injury on the top there.
The swan bag keeps the wings down
and it keeps the legs trapped in as well,
so that they can't thrash around and hurt themselves.
Now they've seen the extent of the injuries,
Jackie must get the bird treatment and fast.
Meanwhile, the rest of the family will become evidence
in a criminal investigation.
Depending on their age,
they could be entitled to have an air rifle,
but it's actually using it...
And certainly, taking shots at wildlife is against the law.
We take it very seriously indeed.
And in terms of the public, they view it very seriously as well.
These are their birds, that's the way the local community see it
and they want something done about it.
The locals waste no time in responding.
A witness has already reported seeing a car
in the area at the time of the shooting.
This information may lead the police to the culprit.
It's encouraging news,
but it doesn't help the rescuers understand such a senseless crime.
People have been passing all the time, seeing them growing up,
you know, from eggs.
There's people here crying their eyes out that this has happened.
Somebody's come along here and just sat there and taken shots at these birds.
Little defenceless birds like this and they've killed them.
It's absolutely unbelievable. I cannot get my head round it.
On the vet's table the injured swan faces an uncertain future...
50-50. Just depends how much damage has been done underneath the skin.
And a family reunion for the litter of kittens.
She's gone straight for the small black one
and just licked it so it's sodden. She's recognised them straight away.
It's now feeding fantastic.
What a good mum. She's brilliant.
Hitting your dog is an offence and, if your pet is injured,
you could be prosecuted,
but what if your dog does something you feel really needs punishing?
Say it growls at a child.
For many, the instant reaction might well be to lash out,
but as I discovered when out with the RSPCA,
this is absolutely the wrong thing to do.
It's a hot, sunny day in London
and I'm on the road with RSPCA inspector Claire Ponsford.
Our first call is to a flat in the north of the city
where there's been an anonymous complaint about an owner who's been seen hitting her dog with a lead.
It's quite a difficult one for you -
you're unlikely to catch them in the act.
What can you do, assuming you don't?
It's almost impossible to prove unless, obviously, the dog is injured
and the person, the owner, hasn't taken it to see a vet for some reason.
It's really an advice call, just to let the person know
that we're aware, that we've had a call about them.
-And you've got your eye on them.
Won't they cower a bit, the dogs?
They can show signs of nerves and of fear,
behaviour being not quite as you would expect.
'The owner answers, but not in the conventional way.'
Hello! I'm with the RSPCA.
We've had a call about a dog at your flat.
I need to come and have a look, please, madam. Can you let me in?
OK, that's fine. Thank you.
-Gone to get a towel? So, she's possibly underdressed.
I think she was.
The owner does eventually appear...
Hello, madam. I'm with the RSPCA. I've had a call about a dog.
Can I come in? Thank you very much.
Hello, sweetheart. Come on.
What's he or she called, the dog?
-Honey. It's a girl, is it?
'The dog seems friendly enough...'
Hello! Oh, you're weeing.
Oh, dear, that's not good.
-Does she do that a lot?
'..but her little accident immediately gives Claire cause for concern.
'It could be a sign that she's nervous around people.'
I'd had a call that somebody had been seen hitting your dog with a chain,
with a lead or something like that.
It was... What can I say? Naughty.
The dog was naughty? Right.
-I said to it, "Naughty," that's it.
How often do you do that to the dog?
-How often do you hit the dog?
-No. No, no.
-Just the once, OK.
If it's just the once, I'm just going to just warn you
that it's illegal for you to hit your dog, OK?
If you cause your dog an injury,
you could get a very, very big fine or go to prison. All right?
'Hitting a dog is a serious offence and Mrs Eskabar is lucky here
'to get off with a warning,
'but Claire still wants to know why she hit her dog.'
What did she do yesterday, then, that was so naughty?
-You know, because she try to say, "Grrr!"
Growl, that's it! And I say, "You're naughty,"
because she likes to play with the children.
Dogs do that because they're on the same level as them and the same size.
That's a good thing, it's good if she's socialised with the children,
but if you hit her when she's playing with the children,
she might get more nasty so it's not a good thing to do.
No. Lovely, lovely...dog.
It looks nice.
Yes, everybody likes her.
'As the dog was growling at her grandson,
'Mrs Eskabar thought she was doing the right thing.'
Growling at the children doesn't sound like a great idea.
What should you do with a dog like this?
Training is about using the tone of voice, so it's about a firm "No,"
moving her away, shutting the door. OK?
By hitting the dog or something like that, you reinforce the behaviour
and give the dog the attention that she was looking for.
So you just need to move the two apart, ignore the bad behaviour.
And when she's good, when she plays nicely with the children,
give her a treat, give her lots of fuss.
She will very quickly learn that if she growls,
she can't play with the children.
'Claire is reassured this was a one-off incident.
'Honey is showing no signs of distress.'
Well, thank you very much for your time today. Thank you.
'Claire is happy to leave her in a home where she's clearly loved and cared for.'
Well, that all turned out rather more productive than I expected.
Yeah, it's rare that anyone admits to hitting their dog.
-Turned out really well.
She's listened to advice and I think a lot of it will sink in.
It proves that sometimes allegations seem awful and it's the other way.
'While it's tempting to join the rest of London's cafe society
'soaking up the sunshine,
'it's on to the next job with Inspector Ponsford.
'This call could easily be a hoax.
'It certainly sounds a bit fishy to me.'
We've got a rather unusual case of goldfish being kept
in a toilet cistern in a restaurant. Brought your fishing net, Claire?
This is quite an interesting one, isn't it?
It's a good one for a sunny afternoon.
It seems comic, but do you have to take it seriously, this stuff?
We do. I mean, the fish are still protected to a certain extent.
It's a genuine complaint from a member of the public,
so I investigate it.
-And you can't have them flushed away.
-No, we can't.
'This could be our catch of the day,
'but first we need to reel in the bar manager, Byron Knight'
We've received a call about the fish in your toilets. Can I come and look?
Of course you can.
'I wait with baited breath to see what's prompted the complaint...'
Oh! Look at that!
'..and I'm shocked that fish are indeed kept in the toilet.'
So they are ACTUALLY in your cistern, so what happens?
No, they're not. Pull the handle and see.
Can I pull the chain? This is quite good, isn't it?
'Just one pull gives the impression
'that the fish in the tank are going down the pan.'
Wow, look at that!
'But it's just an illusion -
'a pretty convincing one, especially if you've had a drink or two.'
-Got these in the gents?
-I have, yes.
Can you check there's no-one in, so I can have a look, sir?
-I can check in this one if you want.
-Thank you. You've got two in there?
There they are. A couple of goldfish in the gents as well.
It does give you something to look at.
Let's try the flush.
'It's a clever gimmick.
'But joking apart, I'm keen to know if this really
'is a suitable environment for a goldfish.'
-Claire, have you any issues with this?
This is probably one of the cleanest fish tanks I've seen, to be honest.
-The fish look happy. And you've had them?
And that's quite a long time, to be honest,
for goldfish in particular, to survive.
They're obviously happy in that environment
and he's providing everything they need.
I'd say it's all panned out fairly well.
-Flush with your success.
-Thank you very much.
-You guys are very welcome.
'So, at the end of the day,
'that's one call that's had us all well and truly taken in...
'hook, line and sinker.'
Still to come...
investigations begin to find the killer of a family of swans.
We'll send them now for forensic tests and hopefully be able
to match up the pellets
to the weapons that were seized earlier on today.
Now we return to the story of six kittens taken away from their mother.
Two, Trouble and Precious, have already been sold.
After a bit of persuading from the police,
the owner agreed to sign the other four over to the RSPCA.
Now it's a question of whether the kittens will survive.
RSPCA inspector Sarah Keith arrives at Swanbridge vets in Hull
with four tiny kittens and their mum.
The litter has had a good feed after finally being reunited, but they're still very weak.
Their owner told Sarah they're seven weeks old,
but the vet confirms these kittens are probably just four weeks old...
You are a bit skinny, aren't you?
..far too early to be completely weaned.
Each baby gets a thorough examination from the vet.
The main concern is Dotty who's the weakest of all.
You're a bit skinny too, aren't you?
They've been deprived of regular milk from their mother,
so they're all susceptible to illness and injury.
The vet's examined the kittens, some of them are quite thin.
Not too bad to the point where they're emaciated
and they've actually been caused to suffer,
but I don't think it would've been long before that happened
if she hadn't been allowed to feed them.
So I'm really pleased we've managed to get them out tonight
and we haven't had to leave it another day. She's happy.
She was really stressed before, but she's obviously really happy
now that she's reunited with her babies.
The family are clearly happy to be back together,
but the reunion isn't complete.
It's early the next morning, and Sarah is back on the road.
She's on her way to collect the two kittens who'd already been sold.
The woman who bought them, who wants stay anonymous, phoned the RSPCA
when she discovered the kittens were much younger than she had been told.
The two babies, called Trouble and Precious,
have been calling for their mum.
And Sarah quickly discovers that something incredible
has been happening in this house.
The large family Rottweiler has taken on the role of surrogate mother for these two tiny kittens.
This is Tia. She's actually started producing milk
and she's been looking after them like they are her own.
Well, done, big girl.
She's going to have to go to the vet's.
Unfortunately Tia's got to have the vet see her now,
because, obviously, she's producing milk
and she's experiencing this phantom pregnancy,
but she hasn't got any babies of her own to suckle from.
So she will have to go to the vet's and be sorted out,
but what a clever girl.
Tia is not actually feeding these kittens...
Is this one of your babies?
..so the owner has had to step in at meal times.
They've been being bottle-fed every couple of hours
with a special solution for baby animals.
It's no good giving them milk
or anything that's come from cow or otherwise.
It has to be specially formulated for young animals.
Had they been left with Mum for long enough, none of this would be necessary.
So when we reunite them, she'll take straight back to them
and there won't be any further issues.
And then, once they're old enough to be weaned and fully strong,
then we can return them to their new owner.
I purposely left the blanket in the basket yesterday
that she was on with the other kittens,
so hopefully the scents will cover up anything they smell
of them being in a different environment.
Tia's not the only one who's been looking out for the new arrivals.
There's also another older kitten called Leila.
She's a ten week old kitten, nearly ten weeks old,
so if we compare and contrast - this little one is supposed
to be eight weeks, according to the person that sold it,
and this is ten weeks old.
We know this is ten weeks old, that's not eight weeks old.
Now it's time for Tia to say goodbye.
If it's all right with you, I'm going to take these kittens
and reunite them with their real mum, but well done.
She clearly doesn't want to let them go.
Yeah, they're going to go in there.
And Leila doesn't seem too keen either.
Oh, he's so tiny.
So tiny. You go in there, darling. There you go.
There's a good girl.
Oh, good girl.
If all goes well, Trouble and Precious will be back in a couple of weeks.
Bye! Thank you.
And that can't come soon enough for Tia.
Although they've been well cared for,
what these two really need now is their real mum.
Right, let's have a look.
But first, they need to see the vet.
Can I have a look, babies?
They're very skinny, though. Very bony.
They're just not getting enough, are they, these kittens?
They look like ragamuffins, these two, don't they?
These two obviously have had the advantage of being bottle-fed
every few hours from the lady who luckily picked them up,
but nothing's as good as Mum's milk so hopefully,
when she gets back onto it, they'll all be brightening up.
And now the time has come for Trouble and Precious
to finally join the rest of the family,
but it's not THAT straightforward.
They've spent five days in a new home, being cared for by a Rottweiler.
Sarah's worried that Mum won't accept them.
Look, darling, there's your babies.
Who's that? Oh, good girl!
Straight away, she's licking away.
But thankfully, it's like they've never been apart.
You recognise them, even though they smell of Rottweiler! Good girl.
Snuggled straight in.
Good girl. What a good mum.
She's gone straight for the small black one
and just licked it so it's sodden.
She's recognised them straight away,
it's now feeding fantastic.
They're going to smell funny, cos they've been without her for a week,
but she's gone straight in and licked them
to get her own scent on, so I'm well pleased with that.
It's another successful reunion for Sarah,
but after all that time away from Mum,
these kittens are much weaker and more fragile than they should be.
The next few weeks will be critical.
Still to come...
One of the kittens is left behind after breaking her leg.
It's not just a combination of the time of weaning,
it's that it didn't get the best nutrition once it had left its mother.
In fact, I think it hardly got any nutrition.
Now we're back to the story of a family of swans shot by an air rifle.
The father and four cygnets were killed,
the mother was found with blood stains on her back
and a gunshot wound to the neck.
Information from the local community has led police to two youths whose car was seen in the area.
They've now confiscated an air gun they think was used.
Meanwhile, the mother has just arrived at the vet's.
The lone survivor of the multiple swan shooting on Tyneside urgently needs medical help.
RSPCA officer Jackie Thorpe has brought her
to the Berwick Swan Trust where she'll be examined by the vet.
Well, it feels to me as if it's almost gone in there and out here.
We'll soon find out with an X-ray this evening.
David can't feel any air-gun pellets but he'll need to do an X-ray to be certain.
I think what we're going to do, just now anyway,
is give her painkillers and some antibiotics.
The priority now is to ease the bird's pain.
After such a bleak start to the day, Jackie is relieved that the swan now has a chance of recovery.
She travelled up really well, she was very quiet.
She started hissing when I pulled up, so I knew that that was a good sign.
The next few hours will determine how seriously injured the traumatised bird is.
50-50. Just depends how much damage has been done underneath the skin.
You're up against the back of the throat here.
There's a lot of very important veins and arteries going up.
To the brain, for example.
If they happen to have been damaged...
They could have brain damage, a lot of damage done to them.
For now, the swan needs to rest and be left to recover in peace.
I like to look on the bright side and make sure it's positive for her.
For Jackie, her work is not yet over.
This is one of the dead ones that was found on the pond...
The bodies of the dead swans now need to be examined.
Anything David finds will form part of the criminal investigation.
David immediately finds a foreign body with his scalpel.
The suspicions are correct. It's an air-rifle pellet.
Here it is. You can see that in there.
Can you see it there? Air rifles weren't all that powerful,
but now they can pump them up and they get them
very near as powerful as a .22, and that is a lethal weapon.
If that hit a child in the eye, something like that,
it could blind them or even kill them. So, you know, it is lethal.
The size of the pellet compared to the size of the cygnet's neck...
It's quite big in comparison and we know for definite they've been shot,
so we'll send them now for forensic tests and hopefully be able
to match up the pellets to the weapons
that were seized earlier on today.
A few days later, and the surviving mother swan is X-rayed.
Thankfully, there's some good news.
The X-ray shows the pellet hasn't caused any serious damage.
David removes it and is now confident the wound will heal.
Two months on, and the injured mother
has made a remarkable recovery - her wounds have healed
and she's even made friends with two other birds.
She's done SO well, that she's now ready to go back to the wild.
She seems not too bad.
She's, if anything, the most belligerent of the lot!
She's a lovely swan.
There are no external signs of her wound.
The swan has a green mark sprayed on her neck,
so she can be identified among her new companions.
We're going to take it out.
We'll catch it first of all and then have a good look at it.
Check... Feel how the wing's feeling
and then take them down to the river and release them.
Makes the job really worthwhile.
Hello, girls. What are you doing, then?
With the help of two colleagues, Richard and Barry...
..the swans are rounded up
and David gives his patient a final examination.
Fine. Absolutely fine, in point of fact.
And after being given the all clear,
it's into the swan bags which will protect the birds on their journey to their new home.
There's a good girl.
The release site on the River Tweed
is a long way from Gateshead where the shooting took place.
David is hoping this will help the swan start a new life in a place that holds no bad memories for her.
Quite heavy, aren't you, pet?
And she wastes no time.
Within a few minutes, the swan is on the water...
Lovely to see them go, though, isn't it?
..closely followed by her companions.
They look very happy now.
When you see them going off onto the river again,
it makes it all worthwhile.
There's no doubt, no matter how much work you do on them,
if you can actually get them back to the wild,
and see them going back to the wild, it makes a lot of difference.
It's been a traumatic few months for this swan,
but as she heads off with her new friends,
the future is now much brighter.
And a few weeks after that release,
a 17-year-old admitted killing the swans
and possessing an air gun while under 18.
He was given a Referral Order and required to pay £60 in costs.
Finally, back to the story of the six kittens taken away from their mother while far too young.
Two of them were sold at just four weeks old,
but after a police intervention,
the rest WERE signed over by the owner to the RSPCA.
When we last saw them, all six had just been
reunited with their mother, but they faced a critical few weeks.
At Swanbridge vets in Hull, there's mixed news.
Mum has gone back to her home, Trouble and Precious
are back with their surrogate mother, the Rottweiler,
and new owners have been found for the rest of the kittens...
apart from one.
Dotty has a broken leg, so she's been left behind at the vet's.
Being deprived of mother's milk
can leave a young kitten weak and fragile.
Dotty broke her leg shortly after arriving six weeks ago.
It was so bad that vet John Levison thought they'd have to amputate.
This is Dotty... The little kitten's, left hind leg.
OK? Back leg.
And if you look here, it's quite obvious
the ankle, the equivalent of your ankle, is in the wrong position.
That's what it should look like,
and that little piece of bone has come off.
Premature weaning doesn't help them growing,
mother's milk's the best,
in which case there may be an underlying weakening of the bone.
It's not a combination of the time of weaning,
it's just that it didn't get the best nutrition
once it had left its mother. I think it hardly got any nutrition.
Dotty's had a pin put in her leg
and she's been stuck in a cast for weeks.
Come on, then, Dotty.
Today is a big day for her.
The vets are removing the cast to see if the leg is healing properly.
This is a tough procedure for a young kitten,
so she'll need an anaesthetic.
First, the leg is shaved.
Then John administers the anaesthetic, which quickly takes effect.
Oh, sweet dreams. Nighty-night.
There you are, just gently let her go that way.
With Dotty fast asleep, John starts to cut away the cast.
He's hoping the leg is in the correct position.
Touch wood, if this heals as we'd like,
there should not be any long-term effects.
John is worried that Dotty could end up with a permanent limp or arthritis later in life.
With the bandage removed, he can take a proper look at the injured leg.
That's a nice straight line.
Check the pin's not bothering above there.
No signs of discharge. The alignment... Nice pink toenails.
Right, smell it.
There's no nasty smells, cos often you can smell an infection.
So we're dead chuffed with her.
I think probably two more dressings and that'll do us.
Young growing cat - heals quickly. Happy with the alignment, so yeah, we're happy at this stage.
We're always cautious, because if you say, "Everything's fine, love,"
and then it isn't, then you look a bit of a Charlie.
But honestly, I'll be disappointed if this one doesn't do fine.
Dotty's leg is put in a fresh cast.
She's well on course to make a full recovery...
but has still some way to go.
This little kitten has had a difficult start to her life.
She now needs plenty of rest and more time to heal.
A month later, and at a nearby foster home,
Dotty has come on leaps and bounds.
The cast has come off and she's got a bit of company.
Dotty's spent most of her short life at the vet's,
so she's staying with foster carer Andrea Mitchell for a bit of luxury.
Absolutely spoilt rotten. She's my baby now.
Not for good, just for as long as she needs it.
Then, she'll be taken to the homing centre and somebody can adopt her.
But before that, Dotty still needs plenty of rehabilitation.
If we compare her two back legs together,
we can see how her broken one is MUCH thinner
and we can see where she just needs to build the muscle.
That shouldn't be a problem,
because Dotty's certainly not afraid of exercise.
And it's great to see this playful kitten making up for lost time.
It's been very tough. She's only 16 weeks now,
so she's spent half of her life in the veterinary hospital already.
So she's probably missed out on half of her life of playtime,
but she's soon making up for it. She's fine.
She's a gorgeous girl.
I'm pleased to say that all the kittens are thriving
and Dotty found a home just three weeks later.
If you think you know of a case of wildlife crime
or an animal that needs help,
remember there are dedicated professionals out there
who'll answer your call right around the clock.
They are the people we meet on Animal 24:7.
Next time on Animal 24:7...
..catching up with an owner who's neglecting her pet...
We've been told by a neighbour
that when she saw my van outside the property, she went.
Which makes me worried that there's something wrong with her dog.
..rescuing the animals from a sanctuary in crisis...
People would come and dump animals, tie them to the front gates.
It just got to the point of total saturation.
..and I meet some old friends.
It would've been one of the kites released
the last time you visited us here in 2006.
That one's out there in the wild, doing what kites are supposed to do.
-I gave that bird its freedom.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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Series following people who protect and work closely with wildlife and domestic animals.
The police investigate after a family of swans is massacred in a brutal attack. There's help for some tiny kittens separated from their mum, and presenter Tom Heap is with the RSPCA investigating reports that goldfish are being kept in a toilet.