• Baby duck rescue – part 2

    Sep 8th

    continued from last blog…

    ‘I’m climbing up to get that duck’ I said to the nice RSPCA man.

    ‘Wait a minute,’ he replied ‘we need to give the owners a chance to rectify this –  most of the time it’s ignorance. If the duck has food and water it’s not in imminent danger and we can’t really take it’

    Now I could see why people criticized the RSPCA for being too politically correct.

    Reluctantly, I followed him round to the back of the estate where the doors to the flats were. I didn’t like the idea of giving someone that left a duck on a balcony a chance to rectify anything.

    But then I made the mistake of pausing…and, god forbid, thinking: what makes me an expert on Indian runner ducks all of a sudden? Perhaps runner ducks like living on a balcony rather than, er,  running round India. My intellect was creeping in and it was taking control.

    No one answered the door. We knocked again and waited

    ‘Bloody duck haters!’ said my heart.

    My intellect replied: ‘Maybe they have gone to buy duck food’

    No! They are asleep, injecting heroin’  replied my heart

    No, no, no. The duck belongs to their daughter. And to take it would be stealing her favourite toy’ reasoned my intellect

    A duck is not a toy!’

    …her favourite present then..’

    They probably leave their daughter out on the balcony at night too!

    ‘its been beautiful weather recently..’

    The RSPCA man turned to me ‘ They’re not in’.

    ‘Look,’ I said, following him back to the front of the building where the balcony was ‘I’m really OK with climbing up and getting the poor thing. I think I should’

    ‘I can’t condone it. But if you must, then watch out for those…’

    He pointed high up on the wall towards a CCTV camera.  I instinctively smiled at it, as if that might help any future duck-related court actions.

    ‘The law doesn’t care if you are trying to be nice to animals,’ he said. ‘If it’s not in immediate danger, you’ll get done for trespassing and theft … all sorts’

    It’s a living being!’ reasoned my heart

    ‘You ate chicken last week, Martin.’ replied my intellect. ‘There’s no point going to prison for duck’

    Then I saw another CCTV camera…and another….and just over there by the lamppost… another. Shite. This was back-alley kings cross after all. The cameras were probably trained on me precisely because I didn’t look like a hooker, drug dealer or thief.

    ‘er.. so what can I do to help?’ I asked. My intellect was now speaking out loud.

    ‘I’ll come back within 24 hours,’ the officer replied ‘and if they are still not answering, I’ll take the duck. You don’t need to lose any sleep over this.’

    ‘Can I take your details to keep track. You know, make sure it doesn’t get lost in the system?’

    ‘Sure’. He gave me his card.

    Over the next week I chased the RSPCA repeatedly and also called the local council to argue that keeping the duck on the balcony was a health hazard. The RSPCA did not come back within 24 hours (they said they were over-run) but they were helpful on the phone, at least once I had got past their central calling desk in Bradford  (or was it Bombay?).

    Finally the council and the RSPCA combined forces and spoke to the duck owners, a Bangladeshi family, who had indeed given the duck to their daughter as a present (one point for the intellect). They said the family used to take it for ‘walks’ in the park. The father was, apparently, horrified that the duck wasn’t in the right conditions (really?) and passed it on to a friend of his who kept chickens and other ducks.

    I called up the RSPCA twice more after this as well as the council to confirm this story and to ask if I could see that the duck was OK. They were adamant that the family were decent and, to be fair, both of their accounts corroborated but they would not give out further information. I went back to the balcony twice more that week and the duck had disappeared and rather strangely been replaced by a giant beachball (?).. I rang the doorbell but no one was in. The neighbours knew nothing of  what happened to the animal and were probably fed up with a man walking around asking about baby ducks and smiling at CCTV cameras.

    I had gone a little duck crazy.

    Could I be certain the little quacker was now in a decent place? No.

    But I know that I did what I could within the law and it probably did make a difference. Part of me still wishes I had climbed up and got the poor thing, but that might have been only because I wanted to impress Mike and you the reader. For now I begrudgingly admit that perhaps the intellect was smarter than the heart, or maybe that they can in some instances work together.


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