Prison officials organised an emergency motorised mercy dash in a prison escort vehicle so that a sick guinea pig could get treatment from a vet. Administrators at the jail have been criticised for wasting money and resources after the guinea pig, named Reggie Kray, was whisked to the vets after he fell ill with an ear infection.
Following treatment he was returned to HMP Eastwood Park, at Wotton-under-Edge, to be reunited with his brother Ronnie, but within two hours he had died. The guinea pigs were kept to help rehabilitate female criminals.
An unnamed prison nurse, from Gloucester, has criticised the jail, claiming Reggie was accompanied to the vet by a prison officer in the prison escort vehicle. And she says two vets were subsequently called to the prison to certify Reggie's death, which was later logged on the prison computer as a death in custody.
"I think it is such a joke that a guinea pig was taken to the vets by prison service car. It took an officer off duty and we are already short staffed," she told the Gloucestershire Echo.
"Then later that day a member of staff logged that there was a death in custody. But unbelievably it was the guinea pig. Two vets arrived at 7.45pm to confirm that the guinea pig was dead. In my opinion, this is such a scandalous waste of public funds.
"These guinea pigs have been living it up for sometime. They are even on the roll check along with inmates meaning they get checked on four times a day for their welfare."
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) confirmed that Reggie the guinea pig was taken to see a vet in a prison vehicle, although he was otherwise unaccompanied. A spokeswoman said that a subsequent visit to the prison by the vet later the same day, when death was certified, was made on his way home, and for no fee.
The MoJ also dismissed claims that the animal was officially logged as having died in custody on the prison computer system. She said that the guinea pig was looked after and checked on regularly in the same way as any animal would have to be when kept as a pet.
A brief MoJ statement added: "A small number of donated animals are kept at HMP Eastwood Park to help with the rehabilitation of prisoners."