Episode 8 Animal 24:7


Episode 8

Series following people dedicated to helping animals. RSPCA Inspector Jayne Bashford is on the trail of a number of 'status dogs' in Birmingham.


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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

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are the victims of cruelty, persecution and neglect.

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Fighting to save them is a dedicated band of people,

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

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This is Animal 24:7.

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Today on Animal 24:7...

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A pit bull. You know they're banned?

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Used and abused,

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the dogs being kept as a show of strength.

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Dogs are being acquired to look good on the end of a lead, and not necessarily as pets.

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Treating the casualties in animal A&E.

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When they purr inappropriately it's because they're in extreme pain.

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He's rather stressed, so I'll take him through straight away.

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And I come under attack as I help protect the puffins.

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You've got the mad spiky arctic terns that want to peck your head,

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and then the cool and easy puffins in the background.

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Over the past few years there's been a huge rise in the number of so-called status dogs.

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They're often bought for show or protection, but who's there to protect the dogs themselves?

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Sometimes the welfare of these animals gives the RSPCA real cause for concern.

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Inner-city Birmingham. An area that has seen

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a huge rise in the number of powerful dogs being kept as status symbols.

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These animals are often seen as a must-have accessory,

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not a pet. Their needs are often ignored.

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Inspector Jayne Bashford is following up the most recent complaint.

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I had a call about a dog, a boxer-type dog that's meant to be at this address.

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It's meant to be quite thin,

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and the caller is also concerned that it's being kept in an under-stairs cupboard

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in dirty conditions with its own faeces around.

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We need to have a look at it and see what the situation is.

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Jayne believes this is a status dog.

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SHE KNOCKS ON DOOR

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Hi there, sir, you all right?

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I'm from the RSPCA and I just need to speak to you. Have you got a dog?

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Boxer-type dog? What sort of dog have you got?

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-A pit bull.

-Have you?

-Not a boxer.

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A pit bull. You know they're banned?

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This response raises the stakes.

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Pit bulls are illegal unless the owner has a licence.

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Can I have a look where he's living, is that all right?

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They can also be dangerous.

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What's his temperament like?

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The owners admit the dog, Benson, is unpredictable.

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You'd better get him on a lead for me, because if he bites me that's a whole other issue.

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And he's shut away in a tiny cupboard.

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Is it locked, is it?

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Once the door is opened, Jayne is appalled by what she sees.

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Benson is living in his own mess.

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The only place he has to sleep is a filthy bed, and there's no food or water.

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Right. You do not have to say anything,

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but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned

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something which you later rely on in court.

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That dog is unacceptably thin,

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and it's being kept locked in an under-stairs cupboard.

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The owners also tell Jayne they bought Benson for protection.

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He's not going to be much of a guard dog locked under the stairs.

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But he's in urgent need of help himself.

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Jayne wants to get him to a vet.

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Shall we pop him in the van? Is that all right?

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And as they emerge from the house, the dog owner seems more concerned

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about who reported him than the condition of his dog.

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Benson is underweight.

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He may also be a banned breed.

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This is a very serious case.

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Before you start shouting to all the neighbours about you being grassed up about not feeding the dog,

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there are other issues about the way that dog's being kept.

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-I know that.

-So let's just get a little bit of perspective.

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Benson has been shut under the stairs for more than 12 hours.

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Jayne spells out why this can't be allowed to continue.

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You or your partner have locked that dog

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in that cupboard from 11pm last night until 12 noon today.

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That dog smells so strongly of urine, all the white fur on him has turned yellow.

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Jayne could use police powers to seize Benson.

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I'm not here to give you grief. I'm here to protect that animal.

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-Yeah.

-But she manages to persuade the owners to sign him over.

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This is an animal acceptance agreement form.

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This means that you are now signing all ownership and responsibility for that dog over to me.

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Jayne's glad to have got Benson out, but the family may well hear from her again.

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Having seen him I've obviously cautioned him, I've cautioned both of the people in the property.

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Looking at the condition of that cupboard and the condition of the dog,

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I would suggest that dog has been in there for some considerable amount of time.

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Benson will need to be checked by an expert to decide whether he is in fact a pit bull.

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But for now, the priority is his health.

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Good boy. Good boy. Good boy.

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Vet Steve Adelle immediately realises this dog is malnourished.

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He is 5 kilograms underweight,

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which doesn't sound a lot, but as a percentage of his body weight that's quite a significant amount.

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Shall we have a look at him, shall we?

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Status dogs are feared because of their aggression and power.

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Have we got a muzzle at all, Steve?

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Benson is becoming agitated. Jayne and Steve must proceed with caution.

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These muzzles often look worse than they are, but it's for his safety as well as ours.

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But the muzzle provokes an extreme reaction.

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Good boy. Good boy. He's trying to get it off.

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Jayne tries to restrain him.

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Good boy.

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I'm going to have to let him go.

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But is quickly overpowered.

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Behave, behave, behave. Good boy.

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Benson's behaviour clearly demonstrates his brute force.

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It could mean he'll be difficult for anyone to control.

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This dog probably doesn't get as much fuss, love, TLC,

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as what we would expect from a normal family pet.

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After taking some blood, Benson is given a much-needed meal.

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What have we got here?

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The focus now shifts to the conditions in which he was being kept,

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evidence stored on Jayne's camera.

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That is his general living condition. This is a chocolate tin which was completely empty and dry.

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-No water in there?

-No water in there. There was no food present.

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You've got the evidence of old takeaway foil cartons.

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-Which tends to suggest it's not having the best and most appropriate diet for a dog.

-Not at all.

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Both agree this is a clear case of neglect.

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We're building up a picture here with this dog,

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not necessarily of one particular problem,

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but a whole pattern of general sort of neglect in the case

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that he's not been fed very well, he's not been kept in a good environment.

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He's not getting much interaction with people,

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so we've built up a whole picture of this dog's existence,

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which, at this stage, it appears that he's not being kept appropriately at all.

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A few weeks later Benson was assessed and deemed to be a pit-bull type.

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He joins the growing list of dangerous dogs being abused

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which are only discovered through tip-offs.

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The law states that a pit bull can never be re-homed.

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Sadly, Benson had to be put to sleep.

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Coming up, Jayne's patrol continues.

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I question how that dog's come about those wounds.

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Especially considering you've got it from Alum Rock.

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You know Alum Rock is where all the dog fights take place?

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And the cute birds that pack a punch.

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The bill is vicious enough, but the claws are very sharp.

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For many owners, their pets are very much part of the family,

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so when they fall ill or become seriously injured it can be very distressing.

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Across the country there are animal hospitals equipped to do emergency procedures right around the clock.

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The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals, or PDSA,

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is a charity which provides veterinary care for owners on low incomes.

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Bow, East London.

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This is the PDSA Animal Hospital.

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Day and night, pets and their owners arrive here with all manner of medical problems.

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Just take a seat, and the nurse will call you through. Thank you.

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An army of skilled vets and nurses is on hand to give them treatment.

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Some are routine procedures, others are in a critical condition...

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..like the latest casualty on the cat ward.

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Last night, Sam was brought in by his owner after being hit by a car.

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He has a suspected broken jaw, but it's his eye that's causing most concern.

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Geraldine Coles must now decide if Sam is stable enough to undergo vital surgery.

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He's obviously had painkillers straight away.

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He's been put on IV fluids for shock and given antibiotics.

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We know he's got a jaw problem, he can't close his mouth properly.

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And you can see that he's got an eye problem, he's probably going to be losing that eye.

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I'm looking at his breathing, it's quite laboured.

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Sam is an elderly cat, and he's extremely distressed.

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He's actually purring, which is not a good sign.

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When they purr what I call inappropriately, it's because they are in extreme pain.

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He's stressed, so I'll take him through straight away.

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This cat desperately needs an operation.

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But first, tests are needed on his heart and lungs.

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If they are damaged, Sam may not be strong enough to survive the surgery.

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Right, well, the monitor shows that his oxygenation is good

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and his chest is looking good, considering the injury that he's had.

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It's a positive sign, and now the X-ray results are back.

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He's obviously been gasping for air,

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which is why his stomach's full of gas.

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And he's got a huge bladder here, so we'll empty that for him.

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But other than that, it looks OK.

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So that means we can now get on to surgery.

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Sam is rushed through for his life-saving operation.

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Surgeon Peter Fox is to completely remove his left eye and fix his jaw.

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So hopefully, Sam, after his surgery,

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will make a full recovery. Apart from being a character cat with one eye.

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Vets here see five cats every week that have been hit by cars,

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but this is a particularly delicate job and Sam is an elderly cat.

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Finally, the eye is removed, but Sam's not in the clear yet.

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Peter must now begin to tackle his shattered jaw.

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The PDSA in Bow treats around 190 patients a day.

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And some are not that keen to see the vet.

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German shepherd Roxy could be the latest.

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Her owners, Carol and Linda Wainwright, know she's in pain and it's getting worse.

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She snapped one of her back claws in half but on the way here, it fell off.

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It has split, so we've still got to see the nurse.

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Roxy Wainwright, please.

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Roxy is booked in to see senior vet Elaine Pendlebury.

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Treating the injury will be painful.

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When dogs are in pain, there's a real chance they can turn nasty.

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Before Elaine begins her examination, Roxy's owner muzzles her dog.

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What exactly happened, do we know?

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We don't know. My daughter said this morning she was licking it.

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And when I looked, it's snapped in half.

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Right. OK. Let's have a look. What we... Oh dear.

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Probably caught it in a bit of carpet or something like that.

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Usually, it gets caught in something.

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Dogs' claws are made of keratin, similar to human nails,

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but they have a sensitive nerve called the quick, running through the middle of each one.

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Exposing the quick is what causes the pain.

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DOG BARKS

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-OK.

-Come on.

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DOG BARKS AND GROWLS

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Elaine works quickly to treat Roxy, as her owners try to restrain her.

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I know.

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DOG WHIMPERS THEN BARKS

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Her foot is cleaned and dressed to prevent infection

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and Elaine is happy that Roxy's claw will soon grow back.

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-We'll give you some antibiotics, then I'd like to see you back on Monday, please. OK?

-Can she get down?

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Yes, get down now. Brilliant.

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Roxy's now free to go home,

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complete with her rather fetching new pink sock.

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-Cheerio.

-Bye.

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For Sam, the elderly cat, his ordeal is far from over.

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With his eye successfully removed, surgeon Peter is working on wiring his shattered jaw.

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Sam is 14, but despite his age, the team here is determined to do everything they can.

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We don't put any limit on surgical time.

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If it's fixable, we will always try and fix it.

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So hopefully, he's going to do.

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But anaesthetic is risky with any animal.

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Right.

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With an older cat, the risks are huge and Sam is now extremely weak.

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Animals lose heat under anaesthetic.

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So we're just going to check his temperature.

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In the meantime, he's got some little warming bags to keep him warm

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and help him come round.

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Because he's a little bit gurgly up here, I'm going to get somebody

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in kennels to stay with him until he's fully round,

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to make sure that he doesn't choke on anything.

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Vicky, would you be able to stay with Sam?

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After a traumatic accident, and extensive surgery, Sam has been through a lot.

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The operation has been a success, but the next few hours are going to be crucial.

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Later, how eating a juicy bone has left Missy's life in danger...

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There's lots of little bits, but they're just all rattling around in the stomach.

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That's what's causing all the problems.

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And what really lies behind this garage door...

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The gentleman that lives here was seen to go into the garage with a stick and then the dog fell quiet.

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Further ground really, for me to want to see what's in that shed.

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Northumberland is home to some of the most fantastic wildlife in Britain.

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But even here, some species are facing real challenges.

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I'm heading off to the Farne Islands,

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to meet some researchers using some new hi-tech science

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to understand the puzzle of what's happening to one of our favourite seabirds.

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The bird I'm talking about is the beautiful and much loved puffin.

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They were once a major success story here,

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but now there's trouble in this colourful Northumbrian paradise.

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I've travelled over to the island to find out what's going on.

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I'm met by head warden David Steel.

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They're so cool, sitting there watching us. They're very chilled kind of birds.

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Very chilled. Very relaxed.

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I can see puffins all around us here, but how are they doing over all on the Farne Islands?

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We had a big crash in the population,

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we lost nearly 30 per cent of our puffins.

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We dropped from 55,500 pairs to just over 36,000 pairs.

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A real mystery plummet in the numbers?

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-Absolutely, yeah.

-And how important is it to you to see a thriving colony of puffins here?

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Well, it's really vital, a real indicator for the Farnes,

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because if the puffins are doing well, all the other sea birds are doing well.

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Scientists have now begun to look more closely at the puffins' behaviour.

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And David's going to take me to someone who is using the latest technology to track them.

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But he's not an easy man to get to.

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-You've got to use a hat now, just to protect your head.

-Not from these guys?

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Not from these guys, from a bird called an arctic tern. Follow me.

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OK.

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There are hundreds of pairs of arctic terns on the islands,

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and they're not too keen on the attention.

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Pretty soon, we're under attack.

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I love the variety in the sea birds here.

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You've got these mad, spiky, arctic terns that want to peck your head.

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And then the cool and easy puffins in the background.

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One theory surrounding the decline is that the sand eel, the puffin's favourite food, is dwindling.

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Zoologist Richard Bevan is now tagging the birds with GPS devices,

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to track where and how they're feeding.

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When they're at sea is when they're gathering their food.

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And if we don't know where they're going

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to get their food, then there is no way that we can actually ascertain how well their food source is doing.

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And the key tool you're using are these electronic tags

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that keep an eye on where they are?

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Yes. Absolutely. That's a GPS logging tag.

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'But to tag them, you have to catch them. And that's no easy task.

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'Puffins don't build nests, but, like rabbits, dig burrows in the ground.'

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Wow. So these are all puffin burrows?

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These are all the puffin burrows. Rather a densely packed colony.

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'We're looking for a mum with a chick,

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'so we can tag the adult and check the baby over.

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'And it's here that Richard really has to chance his arm.'

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You need long arms for this business!

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You need an extremely long arm!

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This is longer than my arm.

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-Nothing in that one? Or possibly just too deep?

-There is but it is far too far down.

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'Maybe we'll have more luck next door.'

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-A real lucky dip this, isn't it?

-It is.

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This time, Richard gets lucky, and the skill now is making sure he doesn't get pecked.

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The bill's vicious enough, but the claws are very sharp.

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-So, do you want to pop that in there?

-Yes.

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Keep my fingers away.

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There we go.

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'Now, it's my turn to risk my right arm.'

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All right, buddy.

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'Thankfully, though, I grab a chick which is easier to handle.'

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The tag has been programmed to record

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a GPS position to its memory every 30 seconds.

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When the bird returns to the burrow we can recapture it, remove the tag and then download the data.

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'The tag's stuck on with a glue which only lasts for seven days.

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'If they're not caught before then, the tag falls off naturally

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'to ensure there's no long-term effects for the puffin.'

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The bird's putting up a bit of a fuss now.

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He's got to wait until the glue goes off because what you don't want is an animal covered in unhardened glue.

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'Only the adult is tagged but various measurements are taken of both...'

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29.3.

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'..before they're both returned to their burrow.

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'I put the chick back exactly where I found it.'

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Go on, go.

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'The mum can't resist a little peck before saying goodbye.'

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There we go.

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The story of our puffins' adventures will be ready within a week

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but the information from previously tracked birds

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is starting to come in to Richard's research base on the island, with some interesting results.

0:22:160:22:21

This is brilliant, so this red line is an actual route of where the puffin flew and probably swam?

0:22:230:22:31

Absolutely. We can follow where the bird has gone.

0:22:310:22:35

Instead of being a relatively straight line, it's a lot more

0:22:350:22:38

convoluted and that's suggesting that they're spending time in one place.

0:22:380:22:43

-This might be where they're picking up a lot of sand eels.

-This could be where they're fishing.

0:22:430:22:47

All these results will be collated to help build up a picture

0:22:500:22:54

of why the population is dwindling.

0:22:540:22:56

For me though, it's time to leave this magnificent wildlife haven.

0:22:590:23:04

Puffins and man have been living alongside each other on the Farne Islands for centuries

0:23:090:23:14

but now, thanks to this hi-tech gadgetry,

0:23:140:23:17

mankind could really help those little birds

0:23:170:23:19

by unlocking the secrets of their sea voyages that could help their population to thrive.

0:23:190:23:25

Coming up - more risky surgery for Sam, the cat hit by a car.

0:23:330:23:38

If he's 14 years old, then his kidneys are on a bit of a knife edge

0:23:380:23:44

so it's really worrying for the poor little thing.

0:23:440:23:46

In Birmingham, RSPCA inspector Jayne Bashford is on the trail of a number of so-called status dogs,

0:23:510:23:58

whose condition is giving her cause for concern.

0:23:580:24:01

Now she's continuing her patrol of the city.

0:24:010:24:04

In a back yard at the bottom of this alleyway,

0:24:140:24:16

there's a report that a powerful dog needs help.

0:24:160:24:18

This is Blade and it's the state of his skin

0:24:200:24:23

that's causing alarm bells to ring within the neighbourhood.

0:24:230:24:28

-Inspector Jayne Bashford wants to speak to Blade's owner, Nadim Hussein.

-Do you own this dog?

0:24:280:24:33

-Yeah.

-What sort of dog is it?

0:24:330:24:35

It's a Staff crossed with a mastiff.

0:24:350:24:37

-Can you get him on a lead?

-I can get the lead.

0:24:370:24:39

Is it all right if I just get changed?

0:24:410:24:43

Yes, do you want to throw a jumper on and get the lead?

0:24:430:24:45

I need to find out how those sores have been caused.

0:24:480:24:53

It could be a number of things really.

0:24:530:24:55

I have got concerns about that dog.

0:24:550:24:57

Blade is a Staffordshire bull terrier and bull mastiff cross.

0:24:570:25:02

Neither breed are banned but they're both powerful.

0:25:020:25:05

Is he on the lead?

0:25:050:25:07

In the wrong hands, they can be aggressive.

0:25:070:25:10

Jayne needs to make sure this dog is fully under control.

0:25:100:25:13

Have you got him?

0:25:130:25:15

Yeah.

0:25:150:25:16

That's it, take him a little bit further back.

0:25:160:25:19

I don't doubt he's a very friendly dog but...

0:25:190:25:23

Nadim tells Jayne he's only had this dog for a month.

0:25:240:25:28

-Had he got these wounds when you got him?

-Yeah.

0:25:280:25:30

He explains he's taken him for treatment.

0:25:300:25:33

So you took the dog to the vet?

0:25:330:25:35

What did the vet say that was?

0:25:350:25:37

-He said it was a burn or something like that.

-A burn?

0:25:370:25:40

I'm very concerned about how that dog's got those areas of scarring.

0:25:400:25:44

-That's why I was concerned myself.

-It's not good.

0:25:440:25:48

Jayne wants to investigate Blade's wounds further by finding out where he came from.

0:25:480:25:55

Which part of Birmingham?

0:25:550:25:57

Alum Rock.

0:25:570:25:58

This answer opens up a potentially more sinister explanation.

0:25:580:26:03

Nadim tells Jayne the dog is from Alum Rock, an area notorious for holding illegal dog fights.

0:26:030:26:09

The people you bought it from,

0:26:090:26:10

-did they say it had been in a dog fight?

-No, they didn't say nothing like that.

0:26:100:26:14

You know Alum Rock is where all the dog fights take place?

0:26:140:26:18

-You know that?

-Yeah, I know that.

0:26:180:26:20

I question how that dog's come about those wounds, especially considering you've got it from Alum Rock.

0:26:200:26:26

That's what I want to know myself.

0:26:260:26:27

There's no suggestion that Nadim has caused these wounds

0:26:280:26:32

but as well as the old scars on his back, Jayne is concerned about the way the dog is being kept.

0:26:320:26:38

It's cold, isn't it? Cold weather.

0:26:380:26:41

-That mat there, in the shed? He's lying on that.

-It's not good enough.

0:26:410:26:44

He's a short-coated dog.

0:26:440:26:46

He's going to feel the cold and the law states that you must provide

0:26:460:26:51

any animals that you're responsible for with clean, fresh, dry bedding.

0:26:510:26:57

Jayne doesn't know what has caused Blade's scars in the past

0:26:570:27:01

but she wants to make sure he's cared for in the future.

0:27:010:27:04

I'm going to leave you an advice notice.

0:27:040:27:09

Jayne believes Nadim cares for his dog but needs advice and this is one job she's not going to give up on.

0:27:090:27:18

I think that dog's been involved in something in the past.

0:27:180:27:21

I'll never be able to prove it.

0:27:210:27:23

The main thing now is that the dog is healing.

0:27:230:27:26

I've asked him to take it to the vets.

0:27:260:27:28

He's claiming it's registered and he can go.

0:27:280:27:32

I'd like him to get it checked over and this call is in my area so I'll keep my eye on it.

0:27:320:27:38

Issues around the treatment of large dogs

0:27:440:27:47

are taking up an increasing amount of the RSPCA's time.

0:27:470:27:51

Back on her beat, Jayne's on the trail of another powerful dog.

0:27:510:27:56

The report suggests this one is being kept in a back yard and is severely underweight.

0:27:560:28:02

Jayne can't see anything through the fence.

0:28:020:28:04

And then there's a development.

0:28:040:28:07

DOG BARKS

0:28:090:28:11

Sorry, just one minute.

0:28:110:28:13

Jayne hears barking coming from the garage next to the yard.

0:28:130:28:17

There's definitely a dog inside the garage, I've heard him scratching, so I want to find out what's going on.

0:28:170:28:23

And it's not just this dog's weight which is of concern.

0:28:230:28:27

There are also allegations that it's been mistreated.

0:28:270:28:30

The gentleman that lives here was seen to go into the garage

0:28:300:28:34

where the dog is at the moment with a stick and then the dog fell quiet.

0:28:340:28:37

Further ground for me to want to see what's in that shed.

0:28:370:28:40

It may be nothing but I can't walk away from it

0:28:400:28:43

and leave it in good conscience, not knowing what's inside that garage.

0:28:430:28:48

Still to come...

0:28:570:28:59

They've come up with the expression "red-nose pit bull"

0:28:590:29:01

so obviously I'm now thinking Section One, Dangerous Dog.

0:29:010:29:05

She's meant to be quite friendly but...

0:29:050:29:07

Earlier in the programme we saw Sam the cat undergo major surgery

0:29:130:29:17

at the PDSA Hospital in London's East End.

0:29:170:29:20

In a moment we'll catch up with Sam but first, there's another animal that needs help.

0:29:200:29:26

At this East London hospital, morning surgery is in full flow.

0:29:320:29:37

For any owner, bringing in poorly pets for treatment is an anxious time.

0:29:370:29:42

But for Nicola Houston and her dog, Missy, it's going to be unbearable.

0:29:430:29:49

Hello, she looks a lovely dog.

0:29:490:29:51

She's lovely.

0:29:510:29:54

These two have an incredibly strong bond but worryingly for Nicola,

0:29:540:29:58

Missy is now poorly after eating an old bone she found in the garden.

0:29:580:30:03

It was on the grass and she got away from me and by the time I got to her, she'd munched some of it.

0:30:040:30:10

If they have eaten anything,

0:30:100:30:11

-it must be quite painful really but she looks a bit sad at the moment.

-She knows I'm leaving her.

0:30:110:30:18

Left untreated, bones stuck in a dog's intestine can prove fatal.

0:30:180:30:24

Missy needs urgent assessment. It's time for these two to be parted.

0:30:240:30:30

It's an hour later and Missy has taken a turn for the worse.

0:30:360:30:41

She's started to vomit.

0:30:430:30:45

X-rays are quickly taken and surgeon Rachel Kilroy has the results.

0:30:450:30:51

I've got a view of the dog's abdomen here.

0:30:510:30:52

From the stomach in this section, we can see some little bits of bone.

0:30:520:30:57

We had hoped that they might move through

0:30:570:31:00

but they haven't and the dog is still vomiting so we are going to operate to remove them.

0:31:000:31:04

With Missy's condition worsening,

0:31:040:31:06

these fragments of bone need to be removed immediately.

0:31:060:31:10

I'm just going to cut into the abdomen and then examine all the intestines in turn,

0:31:100:31:16

looking for any blockages in the intestines, but also those bits

0:31:160:31:21

of bone you can see in the stomach, we'll be cutting into the stomach and removing those.

0:31:210:31:27

These bone chips are tiny.

0:31:270:31:29

There's a bit under your finger, isn't there?

0:31:290:31:32

Finding them is tricky and painstaking work.

0:31:320:31:36

Just lots and lots of little bits

0:31:360:31:38

but they're all rattling around in the stomach.

0:31:380:31:41

Rachel carefully recovers each individual bone fragment.

0:31:410:31:45

Finally, Missy's stomach can be stitched back up.

0:31:450:31:48

I'm quite pleased with how the surgery went.

0:31:480:31:52

The wound through the muscle there takes 10 days to heal.

0:31:520:31:54

But hopefully she should be eating in a couple of days.

0:31:540:32:00

Missy will now be left to recover.

0:32:000:32:02

In a few hours' time, she should be reunited with her owner.

0:32:020:32:07

Across on the cat ward, another patient has now recovered from his surgery.

0:32:150:32:20

Sam was badly injured after being hit by a car.

0:32:200:32:24

Yesterday he had emergency surgery to remove his eye and wire his jaw, but it's still not over.

0:32:240:32:31

Oh, hello, someone is gorgeous.

0:32:310:32:34

Sam's injuries have left him unable to feed.

0:32:340:32:38

If he can't eat, he can't recover.

0:32:380:32:41

Oh, dear.

0:32:420:32:44

Surgeon Richard Walker wants to give him every chance.

0:32:450:32:48

We're going to place a feeding tube for us

0:32:480:32:50

to give him his nourishment whilst his body goes about fixing it.

0:32:500:32:53

This tube will put food directly into Sam's stomach.

0:32:530:32:57

It'll help him build his strength up, but it's not without risk.

0:32:570:33:02

If he's 14 years old, then his kidneys are on a bit of a knife edge

0:33:020:33:08

and when we give him loads of drugs to induce anaesthesia,

0:33:080:33:11

we drop his blood pressure and reduce the oxygen to his kidneys.

0:33:110:33:14

If this anaesthetic goes on too long, he could have life-threatening danger to his kidneys.

0:33:140:33:21

Yes, it's quite worrying for the poor little thing.

0:33:210:33:24

Richard wants to limit the time Sam is under anaesthetic, so works quickly.

0:33:240:33:30

-Got that far to go.

-Lovely.

0:33:300:33:32

Within a few minutes, the tube is inserted.

0:33:320:33:36

Two days ago, the odds were firmly stacked against Sam.

0:33:370:33:41

But this tough tabby has fought back.

0:33:410:33:44

He's survived being hit by a car and two major operations.

0:33:440:33:48

When he begins to come round, it's a great relief for the team.

0:33:480:33:52

We want him home as soon as we possibly can.

0:33:550:34:00

Sitting in a hospital is not a very nice experience for a cat.

0:34:000:34:03

Yeah.

0:34:030:34:05

And Sam did go home three days later, his nine lives not quite used up.

0:34:060:34:13

It's nearing the end of the day shift at the Bow Hospital,

0:34:190:34:22

the waiting room is empty but one owner still remains.

0:34:220:34:26

Nicola Houston has come back to pick up her dog, Missy.

0:34:260:34:30

I can't wait to see her.

0:34:300:34:32

It was five hours ago I brought her in and since then she's had surgery done and, touch wood, it's OK.

0:34:320:34:39

Touch wood, I'm hoping.

0:34:390:34:42

Being without Missy has been hard for Nicola.

0:34:420:34:45

Missy Houston's owner.

0:34:450:34:47

She's desperate to be reunited but first Elaine needs to explain how things went.

0:34:470:34:53

We took some X-rays and we saw some bony mass in there,

0:34:530:34:58

so we had to go in and do an operation to remove it.

0:34:580:35:02

We removed all of that and I'll show that to you, but she's doing very well.

0:35:020:35:06

Was she OK with the anaesthetic?

0:35:060:35:08

-Yes, she was fine.

-Can I see her, please?

0:35:080:35:11

I won't be a minute.

0:35:110:35:13

I know how anxious she was when I left her in that room.

0:35:150:35:17

The look on her face was like I'd abandoned her.

0:35:170:35:20

So I just want to see her wee face again, to let her know that she's not been dumped.

0:35:200:35:25

Oh, Missy!

0:35:250:35:27

I need to get your collar.

0:35:270:35:29

All right.

0:35:290:35:31

She's doing very well, as you can see.

0:35:310:35:34

Finally, the two are back together.

0:35:340:35:36

Missy seems delighted to be enjoying some much needed cuddles.

0:35:360:35:42

-OK?

-Thank you.

0:35:420:35:44

The operation has been a huge success and now Nicola can take her much loved pet back home.

0:35:440:35:51

One of the big problems for the RSPCA is the plight

0:36:000:36:05

of so-called status dogs in some of Britain's inner cities.

0:36:050:36:08

They're often bought for protection or just to show off, but many owners

0:36:080:36:13

give little thought as to how the dogs themselves should be cared for.

0:36:130:36:17

Finally today, we're back in Birmingham where RSPCA inspector

0:36:170:36:21

Jayne Bashford has been giving some of these dogs top priority.

0:36:210:36:26

I've just seen it.

0:36:320:36:35

Locked in a garage with no-one around, Jayne is worried about the dog inside.

0:36:350:36:40

Bruno.

0:36:400:36:41

Neighbours on this estate have told Jayne the dog is called Bruno and he's painfully thin.

0:36:410:36:47

Bruno.

0:36:470:36:49

At the moment, just through the crack of the garage door, I can see him jumping up.

0:36:490:36:54

It's a tan-coloured dog but...

0:36:540:36:58

I'm unable really to see for certain.

0:36:580:37:02

There's a new concern. Jayne has been tipped off that Bruno is a pit bull, a breed on the banned list.

0:37:020:37:09

The police are now on the scene.

0:37:090:37:12

They've come up with the expression "red-nose pit bull", so I'm now thinking Section One, Dangerous Dog.

0:37:120:37:18

She's meant to be quite friendly, but...

0:37:180:37:20

Walk through.

0:37:230:37:24

The officers make their way into the garden.

0:37:240:37:27

Hello.

0:37:270:37:29

Now it's time for the police dog handler to take over and it looks like the rumours may be true.

0:37:300:37:37

-I'd say it's a pit cross.

-Right, OK.

0:37:370:37:41

-It's very skinny.

-Is it?

0:37:410:37:43

It's very skinny, yeah.

0:37:430:37:46

With confirmation that this may indeed be a pit-bull type, the handler must proceed with caution.

0:37:460:37:52

-Got him?

-Yeah.

0:37:550:37:57

Despite being shut away, Bruno is remarkably friendly.

0:37:570:38:01

Hello, you, hello, you.

0:38:010:38:04

But like so many status dogs, there's been little regard for his welfare.

0:38:040:38:09

Let's have a look at the conditions.

0:38:090:38:10

He's been forced to sleep inches away from a deadly cocktail of chemicals.

0:38:100:38:15

Obviously when you walk into this garage, there's quite a strong, chemical smell.

0:38:150:38:20

I was struck straight away by these barrels of corrosive materials

0:38:200:38:25

which are lying right next to the dog bed.

0:38:250:38:27

Although Bruno has been fortunate to escape

0:38:290:38:33

from this potential deathtrap, his future is far from certain.

0:38:330:38:38

On first glance of that dog, he does have a number of characteristics

0:38:380:38:42

which would suggest he is of a pit-bull type.

0:38:420:38:46

To keep a banned breed, an owner must prove they're responsible and obtain a licence.

0:38:460:38:51

The way Bruno has been kept is far from responsible.

0:38:510:38:56

We can take him in on Section One, Dangerous Dogs.

0:38:560:38:59

He'll be taken in and assessed to see if he scores high enough

0:38:590:39:06

on the pit-bull scale. I think he will.

0:39:060:39:10

Jayne only discovered this dangerous dog by chance.

0:39:100:39:14

Alarmingly, plenty of others out there living in better conditions go undetected.

0:39:140:39:20

Had he been kept in a decent environment and looked after as an animal should be,

0:39:200:39:26

the likelihood is he'd never have come to the RSPCA's or the police's attention.

0:39:260:39:31

Ultimately he needs to be assessed by an expert in the field

0:39:310:39:36

to find out exactly what sort of dog he is.

0:39:360:39:39

Unfortunately, if he's deemed to be a pit bull,

0:39:410:39:45

his fate is sealed, really.

0:39:450:39:47

Pit bulls cannot be re-homed.

0:39:480:39:51

Bruno may have to be put to sleep.

0:39:510:39:53

Two months later

0:39:590:40:01

and Jayne needs to make a return visit to Blade, the dog with the unsightly wounds on his back.

0:40:010:40:07

The last time Jayne was here,

0:40:070:40:09

Blade's owner told her that the dog had the injuries when he bought him.

0:40:090:40:13

Jayne believed he may have sustained them in a dog fight.

0:40:130:40:17

The people you bought it from, did they say it had been in a dog fight?

0:40:170:40:20

No.

0:40:200:40:21

There was no suggestion that Blade's current owner had done

0:40:240:40:27

anything wrong, but Jayne is keen to see if the skin has improved.

0:40:270:40:33

Looking at them, it's as it was on our first visit, really. They're not infected

0:40:330:40:38

and they're not causing him any problems by the looks of it,

0:40:380:40:42

but it's just an unusual fur loss area on his body.

0:40:420:40:46

-Hiya, mate, do you remember me?

-Yeah.

0:40:460:40:49

Jayne wants to see if the owner has provided any treatment.

0:40:490:40:52

-Tell me honestly, have you taken him to the vet?

-Yes.

0:40:520:40:57

In your name, or in somebody else's name?

0:40:570:41:00

-My uncle.

-Your uncle's name.

0:41:000:41:03

The owner cannot prove that he's taken his dog to the vet.

0:41:030:41:07

Jayne gives him an ultimatum.

0:41:070:41:09

I'm going to give you 24 hours to call me back

0:41:090:41:14

with the details of this vet appointment that you've been on, all right?

0:41:140:41:18

The RSPCA regularly visits people new to owning dogs - often, they do need guidance.

0:41:200:41:27

Blade isn't in pain, but for Jayne it's clear she's going to have to continue working with his owner

0:41:300:41:36

to ensure the dog gets the care he needs.

0:41:360:41:40

Obviously for my peace of mind,

0:41:400:41:43

I'd just like to know that that dog has seen a vet

0:41:430:41:47

and that this skin problem is harmless

0:41:470:41:49

and won't cause any long-term problems for the dog.

0:41:490:41:54

Over the past couple of months,

0:41:560:41:58

Jayne has visited three powerful dogs whose welfare has caused concern.

0:41:580:42:02

Sadly, this is symptomatic of the plight of so many so-called status dogs.

0:42:050:42:12

The dogs are being acquired...

0:42:120:42:14

..to look good on the end of a lead

0:42:160:42:19

and not necessarily as pets.

0:42:190:42:21

They're not being...treated fully in the way

0:42:210:42:25

that you'd hope they would be treated.

0:42:250:42:28

If you think you know of a case of wildlife crime,

0:42:380:42:41

or a creature that needs immediate protection,

0:42:410:42:44

remember there are dedicated professionals out there

0:42:440:42:48

who will answer your call right around the clock.

0:42:480:42:50

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

0:42:500:42:54

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:42:570:43:00

E-mail [email protected]

0:43:000:43:03

RSPCA Inspector Jayne Bashford is on the trail of a number of 'status dogs' in Birmingham, vets operate on a much-loved dog who became ill after eating a bone and presenter Tom Heap meets the people trying to solve the mystery of why the beautiful Puffin is in decline.


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