Bolton Ferret Welfare

Wow, Fame & Fortune??

Keith & Val Hepwood

The phone rang one evening several weeks ago and before I could say anything an excited voice exclaimed "Guess what, the evening newspaper wants to do an article about me and my ferret rescue: what do you think?"

"That's great" I replied, "it may bring in a donation or two to help with the vet bills."

The day dawned, the interview was concluded, several photos were taken and a few days later Michelle Owen appeared in our wellknown nightly newspaper, alongside the article. Nice. Or was it?

The next day all hell let loose; her phone was ringing non-stop but mostly for the wrong reasons, yes you guessed it, most of the calls were "I have some ferrets and can't look after them anymore because one of them took a bite at our little Billy; will you have them please?" (They failed to say what little Billy was doing at the time!).

There were many more calls of this nature, some more genuine than others, but needless to say Michelle took them in and soon her rescue was full to bursting point with ferrets everywhere. Some of them were in good health whilst others were quite poorly; the majority of them not neutered. Oh, to run a rescue!

After a few weeks the cries for help slowly got less, but during this time if two were re-homed, they were of course replaced by three or four others, on one occasion in a matter of minutes. It does make you wonder what would happen to these poor creatures if no-one took them in; most likely be thrown out like we suspect our Spud was and as you know the chances of them surviving in the wild are very, very slim. They can find food but it is the lack of water which does it for them.

The next part of the fame bit was a live interview with the local radio station. Michelle was getting quite worked up over meeting Jenny Jones the presenter but was reassured when Val and I said what a lovely person she was, very down to earth, game for anything. We knew her from a local dog show where she was broadcasting live, to say she is entertaining is an understatement! We were right, all went to plan and Jenny took it all in her stride with Michelle explaining how she ran her ferret rescue.

Again, all hell let loose and little monsters were creeping out of the woodwork; the rescue was now bursting at the seams with over a hundred inmates counting the permanent residents, then there were the boarders to contend with too. Michelle's life-long friend Karene helped out by taking some to foster at her home which was a great help: thanks, Karene. With that episode over quite a lot of ferrets were re-homed and things started to steady up, but of course it didn't last!

The next great challenge came when her phone rang and it was, of all things, Central ITV News. They wanted to run a story about the rescue on the back of the main local news. The day dawned, our phone rang, "Can you and Val get over here as fast as possible? The film people are on my drive and they want to see ferrets racing and the roulette set up."

So off we dash, arriving in the rain. Huh, to say it was raining hard was an understatement, only to find her hunting in her trailer for the roulette and racing gear which of course was right at the front of the trailer, so all manner of things were having to be moved out onto the driveway to get soaked, along with us! If we'd known they wanted to see these things we could have rooted them out the previous day saving both time and a soaking.

Eventually with all things to hand we set off to the shed to set it all up under the ever-watchful eye of the presenter Andy Bevan and the camera man. Camera rolling, several shots of the roulette and racing in the can and the interview done; Andy trying to have as many ferrets on him as possible, even on his head, no that didn't work but I expect you already guessed that, and it was time to put the kettle on. Andy dashed off to Central Studios to edit the takes ready for Central News whilst the rest of us settled down in Michelle's lounge to hear some interesting tales from the camera man, tea in hand.

The next episode came from the glossy mag (no, not those ones chaps, come on!) 'Pick Me Up'. They wanted to do yet another interview and take lots of photos for the November/Christmas 2008 issue. This went off without a hitch; well, not too many anyway. You know what they say about working with animals and children! The article duly appeared in print with Michelle even making the front cover. Not many girls can say that they have been on the cover of a glossy, can they? A very good story it was too and the photos were great.

That's about all the tales for the time being. Fame was sort of had but as for the fortune bit, we're still waiting!

(First published May 2009)

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