…Part of the Weird and Wonderful Workload of an SPCA Inspector
The day began in a slightly peculiar way. Armed only with a large fishing net, we set off across the Southampton Fairmont par-three golf course in a pink golf buggy — in search of a coot with a suspected broken leg.
Ten hours later, having travelled the length of the island and dealt with everything from cat traps to pit bulls, SPCA Inspector Glyn Roberts was helping a cat that had been knocked down on Point Finger Road.
“Every day is different and there are different challenges,” says Mr Roberts as we descend to our first port of call — the pond by the third tee — at 9am.
“It’s certainly different in Bermuda from when I worked in the UK rescuing sheep and horses.”
We locate the injured coot, but he’s in the water before we have a chance to catch him. He seems fine on the water and, despite the fact his injured leg is sticking out behind him, is able to paddle around without any problems.
“I’ll come back later this week with a pair of binoculars and see how he’s getting on,” Mr Roberts says. “He seems to be swimming and moving fine and quite often animals like this can survive quite happily with an injury like this.”
We park up the pink golf buggy, get back in the SPCA van and head towards Warwick to check up on a dog that was reported as an ‘injured stray’ the previous night by children in a playground.
The small pit bull cross in fact belongs to nearby residents and found his way home overnight.
The old hound is tied up outside his owner’s property when we call.
There are no signs of injuries on him and his owner tells Inspector Roberts that he must have escaped across the road and into the playground the night before.
Mr Roberts suggests the animal could do with a blanket in its kennel and checks his condition.
“There’s a fine line between trying to advise and being too pushy,” he says.
“The dog is getting old but he’s got food and water.
“The important thing is to make sure we follow every report up properly.”
We get back in the van and Mr Roberts logs the visit in his notebook and examines a photo he’s taken of the dog.
Every visit he makes is recorded and photographs are documented.
We travel a short distance down the road to check on another pit bull that is tied up outside a derelict old house (see photo at right).
The dog is well fed and in good condition. And he’s extremely happy to see us despite his squalid surroundings.
“I have tried to make contact with the owner before,” says the inspector. I have left warning notices at the property but it has been difficult to establish who owns the dog.
“The animal is in good condition and he has food. But the conditions he’s living in are not ideal.
“But we have to follow the proper procedure.”
We search the premises again but there is no sign of life.
Mr Roberts leaves another notice with his contact details and we head off to Sandys to investigate another report involving a pit bull.
The SPCA has received a complaint about a dog that is in ‘poor condition’ and is always barking.
When we arrive at the property we speak to the owner’s son, who tells us the pit bull is getting old but maintains he is in good condition and is out at work with his dad.
We leave details again and head on to the next address, which is just five minutes down the road.
The report outlines details about a Rottweiler cross that is need of veterinary attention. We locate the dog, which has a serious skin condition, as well as an external benign tumour, and speak to the owner.
She genuinely seems to care for the dog and tells us the animal is getting old.
Mr Roberts urges her to take him to the vet for treatment and she promises she will.
He says: “That skin infection really does need attention and his eyes were very weepy. I’ll check with the vet to make sure she takes him in, and if she does not we will be back again.”
As we get back into the van the owner of the pit bull, where we have just called, calls the inspector.
He sounds agitated that a neighbour has contacted the SPCA, but invites us to come and see his dog.
The ageing pit bull is indeed in decent condition. He’s reasonably friendly and has food and water in his shed.
“We do get a lot of vague reports that turn out to be nothing,” says Mr Roberts.
“Barking dogs is not something we deal with. That is for the animal wardens to look into. But we try and look into all cases where there is a question mark over the animal’s wellbeing and health.
“Sometimes people will be upset or annoyed that we have been contacted. But my approach is to not be confrontational and just explain what we are doing. It normally works well.
“Each case is recorded and we will always try to close the case.”
Leaving Somerset we head east, all the way to St George’s, to drop off a cat trap to a lady who has reported a badly injured cat attacking her pets.
Mr Roberts explains: “We very rarely give members of the public cat traps. But in this case she has reported the animal has a very serious open wound and injured cats are part of our job.”
While we are in St George’s we drop in to check up on another ongoing case. A month ago the SPCA received several reports from concerned members of the public of a dog being tied up in a car park with no shelter or water.
Mr Roberts and the SPCA have worked with the owner over the last few weeks, and when we turn up the dog has its own kennel as well as food and water.
He says: “It’s always good when people listen to us and take our ideas on board. And to see this dog with his own kennel and shelter is a step in the right direction. We will always initially try and work with the owners for the good of their animals.”
We head back to the SPCA shelter and I leave Mr Roberts to write up his notes and log the day’s work on the charity’s database. Later that evening he is called out to deal with a cat that has been knocked down on Point Finger Road in Hamilton.
He takes the injured pet to Endsmeet Animal Hospital for treatment and gets home at just after 8pm.
“Out of hours calls make up a lot of our work and they can range to all types of animals. I am on call most of the week, and that can make for some interesting as well as long days.”
By Simon Jones BermudaSun