Taking animal protection to a new level is not necessarily a good thing.By Christine Sexton
This is Essex, 23 September 2006
A cat charity swooped on a young man's home with police because he had missed his kitten's flea treatment by a few days.
Two police officers accompanied members of Cats Protection when they turned up to demand Robert Emberson hand back the kitten he had adopted from them.
After some serious persuasion, Mr Emberson has been allowed to keep the cat, but he will now be monitored every three weeks.
The charity's heavy-handed approach followed an earlier visit to check on the welfare of 16-week-old tomcat, Plume.
The women from the charity claimed to have seen a flea on the white cat and Mr Emberson, 18, admitted he hadn't been able to afford the latest flea treatment for his pet because he was waiting for his next pay cheque to come.
Mr Emberson is a horticultural student at Writtle College, Chelmsford, who works one day a week at a garden centre.
He said: "I understand they do these routine welfare visits, but they were so rude, barging in without any warning.
"They said they would report back to headquarters and made it seem like I couldn't afford to look after the cat. I can, but I am a student and the treatment costs me a day's wages.
"I had paid for him to be vaccinated and everything, but I had just missed one treatment. But they still said they might have to take him away."
Mr Emberson, from West Crescent, Canvey, said he was astonished when the charity returned with police reinforcements.
He said: "The police turned up with people from headquarters. They said the police were for their protection, but I am a student with a passion for orchids and animals and Plume is just a little kitten, not a wild animal.
"We have had no end of problems with teenagers around here but you never see a policeman tackle them.
"They calmed down when I told them about the vaccinations, but they still insist on checking up on me every three weeks.
"I thought I was doing the best thing by getting a rescue kitten. Now I am not so sure."
Castle Point Chief Insp Tracy Hawkings confirmed two officers had accompanied Cats Protection to Mr Emberson's home.
She said: "These ladies contacted us and asked for our attendance because their stance was if they went there and there was substance to their concerns, it could cause a breach of the peace."
The charity, which recently came in for criticism after refusing to let a man with an artificial leg adopt a cat, refused to comment.