Sat, 15 Sept 2018
A THATCHAM-based RSPCA officer has been recognised for his dedication to rescuing and housing exotic animals.
Animal collection officer Phil Hamilton has dealt with everything from chameleons to capybaras and boas to pygmy hedgehogs in his time with the charity.
The dedicated RSPCA officer has a number of reptiles of his own that he has rescued and re-homed, including a chameleon, blue-tongued skink and a Sulcata tortoise called Horace.
Mr Hamilton was a guest-of- honour at the Animal Hero Awards held at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London, which was hosted by animal-loving TV star Amanda Holden.
He took home the RSPCA Superstar of the Year award for his dedication to changing the way reptiles are treated across England and Wales.
Mr Hamilton received his award from TV presenter and RSPCA ambassador Matt Johnson and Love Island alumnus Amber Davies.
He said: “This award is such an honour. I am very chuffed. I was not expecting it.
“Reptiles and exotic animals are very much misunderstood and I wanted to make a difference to the lives of these sorts of animals. I love my job – this is such a rewarding role. I could not imagine doing anything else.
“I think a lot of people think that the RSPCA is here just for cats and dogs – but we are here for all animals. Literally every animal that needs our help.
“For everything from the spider that has come to this country in somebody’s luggage to the exotic pet that someone took a liking to and now doesn’t know how to look after properly. We are here to help.”
During his years of working for the RSPCA, Mr Hamilton has been involved in rescues ranging from lizards on the loose, emus being kept in back gardens and raccoons living in sheds.
The awards event, organised by the Daily Mirror in association with the RSPCA, is in its sixth year and honours people who have taken extraordinary steps to improve animal welfare, or help animals, as well as acknowledging the animals themselves who have loyally worked alongside us.
Wildlife specialist and senior scientific manager at the RSPCA Dr Ros Clubb said: “There is a growing problem with the amount of exotic animals being rescued by the RSPCA and a shortage of places to house them.
“Phil takes on the role of coordinating the RSPCA’s team of specialist exotics officers. He’s a mine of information about exotics and has a huge passion for helping these animals.
“He also takes calls at any time of the day or night to help colleagues across the country identify the latest exotic animal they have rescued and give them advice to make sure [the animals] can receive the correct care and treatment.
“He is constantly going above and beyond the call of duty and is a fantastic advocate for exotics.
“In his time at the RSPCA he has rescued everything from a capybara and an African pygmy hedgehog to boa constrictors, pythons and bearded dragons.”