A Good Samaritan has been left devastated after a duckling she rescued was ‘squashed’ at a bird rescue centre before the owner hit on her in a double blunder.
Robert Dobson runs Birds of a Feather Rescue Centre in Oldham, Greater Manchester, where he claims he’s helped rehabilitate more than 10,000 birds.
However a recent incident has ‘ruined’ the sanctuary, he says.
Georgia Davies found two fluffy ducklings abandoned near her home in Rochdale in July and took them to Robert’s rescue.
However the student nurse claims she was left ‘heartbroken’ with guilt when both of them died in his care.
One died from its condition but the other died after Robert put it with a much larger goose cygnet which ‘squished’ it.
When Georgia requested an update on the birds, Robert reportedly wrote “it’s very unprofessional but you’re gorgeous” before admitting one of the birds had died.
But rather than come clean that the other duckling was soon dead too, the rescue owner told her it had been ‘put down’ while at the vets.
After suspicious Georgia discovered the truth by enquiring with the vets, she ‘couldn’t sleep’ as she felt personally responsible for the ducklings’ deaths.
Georgia then posted a warning to others not to use the rescue.
Robert claims his cover-up of how the bird got ‘squished in his care’ led Georgia to wrongly assume he had personally squashed the bird.
The 24-year-old admits it was a ‘massive mistake’ hitting on Georgia and says her Facebook rants, one as recent as January 29, have ‘ruined’ his centre and led to him having abuse being hurled at him whenever he left his home.
The centre now has 21 birds but Robert no longer takes any new ones in – claiming the incident has left him with a ‘hatred for ducklings’ as he got ‘a slap in the face’ for trying to help people.
The former bar worker claims he had both duck’s interests at heart and maintains he tried to save the first one with electrolytes before his blunder with the second.
Robert, from Bacup, Lancashire, said: “One of the ducks was really lively but the other one was really lethargic, so I put them both in an incubator, and that one died the day after I got them off her.
“Because I thought the other duck needed companionship I put it with a young cygnets but it was double the size of it, so they cuddled up together and it squashed the duck in its sleep.
“It’s come across that I squished them, I didn’t. They got squished in my care. It was a bit of a mess up on my part because the cygnet was significantly bigger.
“I’ve had geese and ducklings together before and they’ve been fine, and the cygnet was only 10-14 days old. The duckling and the cygnet were about the size of a tennis ball and a small melon.
“I panicked because I shouldn’t have done it, so that’s where the whole vet thing came about, so I could say ‘oh it didn’t make it at the vets’.
“I’ve now got a hatred for ducklings. They’ve given me enough stress. You try and help people and you just get slapped in the face for it.
“The Facebook post has ruined the rescue centre, and we had lots of negative reviews straight after it.
“I can see why she was upset about me lying about the second duckling, but I was trying to do that for her benefit.”
He added: “I don’t even know why I did [hit on Georgia]. That was a massive mistake.
“It was very, very unprofessional and I said that at the time. It was a bit odd.”
Georgia claims she grew anxious about the ducks’ welfare at the centre when she noticed negative reviews on sanctuary’s Facebook page, prompting her to visit with her dad.
It was there Robert informed her the bird had actually been ‘squished’.
She was so horrified that she posted a rant about what she thought had happened to Facebook in July and then re-posted another warning last month [Jan 29] to anyone thinking about using the sanctuary.
Georgia wrote: “I am so upset and disheartened at what has happened.
“I am not looking for sympathy, I want to raise awareness of this ‘sanctuary'[…].
“How have they died? One of them was weak and I understand it may have died but the other was a healthy young duckling. We will never know.
“I am in fact heartbroken and I have nothing but guilt. I feel like I only have myself to blame.”
Robert admits he couldn’t leave his house without abuse being hurled at him by locals in the days after Georgia’s post in July and he’s now not taking any more birds in.
The ex-animal management student started the sanctuary in 2011 in Rochdale before moving to Oldham in 2017, and he says he still gets multiple phone calls daily to look after animals.
While previously there had been volunteers at the centre, Robert says he’s been working on his own since the beginning of 2020.
He claims he’s supported the rehabilitation of more than 10,000 birds since the centre opened, using the help of books, his college education and friends in the industry for advice.
Currently, he’s paying for the centre’s 21 birds to be fed by his ex-girlfriend’s mum, because he’d moved to live with his parents in Bacup and lockdown has limited travel.
The centre currently looks after a dozen pigeons, four ducks, four chickens and a goose, but Robert says he now refers rescue calls to other centres rather than taking them in himself.
Georgia declined to comment any further than what she had said in her Facebook post.