Page last updated at 16:16 GMT, Friday, 23 May 2008 17:16 UK

Council kicks up pet skunk stink

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Ichi the skunk is taken for a walk

A woman turning heads by taking her pet skunk for a walk on a lead has been told by a council that it may have to go, BBC Scotland can reveal.

Hannah Chapman, 23, takes de-scented Ichi for walks in Aberdeen.

People have been stopping her to take pictures of the unusual sight in the Rosemount area of the city.

An Aberdeen City Council spokeswoman said Hannah did not have permission to keep a skunk in her council flat but should get in touch.

If the worst comes to the worst I will have to think about moving - there's no chance of getting rid of Ichi
Hannah Chapman

The spokeswoman said Hannah should contact them with details of Ichi being de-scented and how safe she was and they would look at the case.

Hannah explained: "If the worst comes to the worst I will have to think about moving - there's no chance of getting rid of Ichi."

Funny looks

Hannah said that she was often given funny looks when she was walking her pet, and that people sometimes thought Ichi was an odd-looking dog, cat or gerbil.

Hannah's pet has been de-scented so she can run around her home without a risk of smell.

She said: "People are always stopping me on the street asking to take a photo. But they keep their distance because they think she is going to spray. She certainly raises a few eyebrows."

She added: "Ichi is very jealous and on a number of occasions has bitten my boyfriend's fingers.

"I feed her vegetables, meat, chicken, natural yoghurt and insects, but she loves sugar-snap peas and worms."

A Scottish SPCA spokeswoman said: "We sympathise with Miss Chapman's predicament as facing the prospect of having to either move house or risk losing a much-loved pet would be difficult for anyone.

"However, this is not strictly an animal welfare issue, but a matter for the local authority to deal with.

"While it is possible to legally keep skunks as pets in Britain, if the relevant local authority does not allow them to be kept in their properties that is their prerogative."


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