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Sssssurprise! Two neighbourhood officers got more than they bargained for when they entered a house and found four snakes abandoned by their owner.
Police Constable Richie Robinson and Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Mark Ballinger went into an address on Doxford Walk in Hemlington after concerns that a cannabis farm was in the property. Instead, the team found two abandoned dogs and the snakes, which included a large 11ft boa constrictor found in a substandard vivarium under hoardings and rubbish.
Both officers got to work to safely remove the animals to Jacqui Paterson’s Vets in Stockton, but they needed to put the snakes in the back of the police van as there was no alternative option. This meant trying to make the vivarium as secure as possible before driving the boa constrictor to its destination.
PCSO Mark Ballinger said: “Policing is a really varied job, but we didn’t go to work that day thinking we would need to deal with an 11ft boa constrictor. We got a shock when we saw the animals, but knew that we had to save them and take them to the vets. Richie safely got the smaller snakes into bags, but it wasn’t an easy task as handling snakes isn’t something we’re prepared for or used to.
“It took a while to sort as the snakes were stressed as they had no electric to keep them warm, so we knew we needed to act quickly. It’s not something we would ordinarily do, but it felt like the right thing in what was an unusual situation. It was a surprise to say the least.”