Patricia Faulkner and Dave Armitage built a run in their Colchester back garden for the squirrel they have named Squeaky.And that’s when they first hit a snag…
Although he cannot climb trees, he is able to run about.
Squeaky has been with them for about seven years, but they are moving from Hazelton Road to a smaller home in Norfolk and had to call in the RSPCA as they will not have room for him.
The animal charity told the pair they had broken the law by keeping a wild animal without a licence and said Squeaky would have to be put down.Bet they weren’t expecting that, if their only experience of the RSPCA was those heartwarming ads and ‘Rolf’s Animal Hospital’…
If they defy officials, they could face prosecution.Well, naturally! The RSPCA aren’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth, are they?
This couple came to them for help, but who cares about that, when there’s a target to reach…
Ms Faulkner, 50, who works as a medic on film sets, said: “I can’t believe they would want to get rid of him.I wouldn’t assume, going on their past history, that they are necessarily any better with other creatures.
“It’s like they are the Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals, except squirrels.”
RSPCA spokeswoman Katy Geary confirmed the couple had unwittingly broken the law by keeping a grey squirrel, as a licence was required under restrictions laid down by Natural England.And god forbid they try to do that. It might eat into their bereaved-relative-hassling time and money…
She said it would also be illegal to release Squeaky, in the knowledge that he was not fit to survive in the wild.
That means the RSPCA’s only option, other than to put him down, is to find a sanctuary which does have a licence to keep squirrels.
The restrictions are tougher than for many other species as moving grey squirrels into certain areas of the country could put native red squirrels under threat.Well, after all, we wouldn’t want to encourage people to start thinking they could care for animals themselves, would we? No, that sort of thing’s best left to the profressionals.
Ms Geary said: “It is a bit of a legal minefield.
“It is one of these cases where people are doing what they think is best to care for an animal, but technically they are breaking the law.”