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Murdered hedgehog’s carer vows to beat thugs and carry on

Posted on - 3rd October, 2010 - 8:15am | Author - | Posted in - Campaigns, Charities, Crime, People, Wildlife and Conservation

The hospital unit that houses the poorly critters

A Lancashire woman has vowed to continue her work with a charity she runs from her home, a week after mindless thugs shot and murdered one of her patients.

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Stanley the hedgehog was found dead in Carleton Cemetery last week, just days after being released back into the wild. Further investigation, which included a trip to the vets, revealed that Stanley had suffered a bullet wound to the head.

Janis Dean, who runs the Lancashire Hedgehog Care Trust from a specially built animal hospital in her garden, said last week that the whole incident has made her question her future:

“It has left me seriously questioning whether I continue to do this work.”

Now though, in an interview with Blog Preston, Janis has vowed not to let the thugs win and is determined to carry on helping helpless hedgehogs.

“In the days following the tragic event, I questioned everything. I still feel partly responsible and I wish I had released Stanley at a different site.

But amongst the cases where there is heartache, there are also ones which have been a success and so I take comfort in that.”

Janis and the Lancashire Hedgehog Care Trust will appear on BBC’s North West Tonight programme next week, in the hope it may bring the people who shot Stanley to justice – something which Janis doesn’t believe will happen.

“There has been no progress made by the police yet. I really wish the person responsible could be caught, but realistically time has moved on and that is doubtful now.”

Janis first started caring for hedgehogs in 1993 when she took in her first prickly patient, and it snowballed from there.

“As time went by, I began to see that most of the injuries that hedgehogs were admitted with were caused by humans in the first place.

These vulnerable little animals were really struggling to survive and they needed a bit of help.

They need someone to educate the public on how to help them and to avoid some of the terrible injuries I was seeing on a daily basis.”

Before long, Janis was inundated with sick hedgehogs after the RSPCA and local vets began referring them to her. That’s when she realised she needed more time, and more importantly, more room.

“I realised that to do this work, it had to be a full-on commitment. It wasn’t something that could be done on a part-time basis. It had turned into a full-time job; it was hedgehogs 24/7.

The hedgehogs overflowed into my house because the shed was full and there was nowhere else to put them. I love them to bits, but they are not the best things to have in your lounge!

I needed more space – a building with electricity and water supply so all treatments could be done in one self-contained units.”

It took three years of intensive fundraising, hundreds of letters to grant-making trusts and help from several local businesses.  Finally, in 2002, the new hedgehog hospital opened its doors – which meant that Janis would no longer have to deal with infected wounds at the kitchen sink.

Janis is now offering advice to the public on how they can help look after the harmless creatures.

“If you see a hedgehog out during daylight hours it’s in trouble and needs help. Gently pick him up, pop him into a box with high sides and take him indoors.

Fill a hot water bottle with warm water and wrap it in a towel. Place it underneath the hedgehog and then cover him with another towel. Make sure you leave him somewhere quiet while you contact your local rescue centre for advice.”

Janis also warned of the more common errors the public make while trying to be helpful.

“Do not give him anything to eat until after you’d sought advice as it may interfere with any treatment he may need.

Never give a hedgehog milk – it’s very bad for them – so offer only water. Also, never disturb a nest with baby hedgehogs in it, as it may cause the mother to abandon or even kill them.”

If you do accidently disturb a nest, carefully replace the nesting material to get rid of your scent.

While the charity isn’t currently looking for any more volunteers, they are entirely dependent on donations to help them continue their work. To donate, and for more hints and tips on caring for our spiky-haired friends, visit www.hedgehogcare.co.uk.

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