An exotic animal expert has vowed to go on rescuing pets after a boiler failure caused the death of a three-legged meerkat he had been rearing by hand.
Over the last 15 years Dave Clemens has poured countless hours of his own time into rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in Dunstable, Luton and across Bedfordshire.
With his partner Jodie and friends Lauren Stuart, Mandy Hopkins and Craig Griffin, Dave takes in animals from private keepers, councils, the police and the RSPCA to name just a few.
On January 23 a home boiler failure forced the exotic pet lover to spend two hours attempting to warm a three-legged meerkat called Peg – but the infant died in his hand.
Following the tragedy Dave considered giving up his involvement in the rescue service, but supporters have stepped in to raise more than £1,250 to help it continue.
Dave, who works at Wrigglies pet stores in Dunstable and Biggleswade, told the Gazette he was “blown away” by the fund.
He said: “Losing the meerkat was really tough– especially as it had just started getting well.
“It has hit us hard but we will continue to do what we can.”
He added: “This campaign is the most that has ever been raised for us, it is really something else.
“It is not something that we would run as a business and we usually don’t like asking for money unless it is really needed for an animal.
“In the long run we would love to register as a charity but you need £5,000 in donations coming in each year.”
Michelle Adams, from Dunstable, set up the fund after seeing Dave nurse a neighbour’s iguana back to health.
She said: “Dave is an angel who hasn’t got his wings yet.
“I met him at Wrigglies when my daughter wanted to take a look and I ran into him again near Christmas when reptiles were being taken out of a home across the road from me.
“Some were in severe need of help and it occurred to me that without Dave and the others hundreds of reptiles would starve to death or just be dumped by their owners.”
She added: “I was not expecting to hit the £1,000 target within a few days but so many people have got behind this.”
>To donate to the fund log on here.