The London Fire Brigade has urged pet owners to think before reporting animal-related emergencies, as the service release a top 10 list of the most unusual creature call-outs they have responded to in the last five years.
The amount of pets being rescued by the capital’s fire authority has skyrocketed by almost 60% since 2007.
Some of the more bizarre incidents the brigade have been called out for in recent years include a chimp that was stuck in a chimney in Tower Hamlets [January 2010] and a snake that was on the loose in a retirement home in Hounslow [July 2009].
Crews are sent out to rescue an animal once every 14 hours, with half of the incidents involving cats and another quarter involving dogs. Fire chiefs are now advising pet owners to call the RSPCA in the first instance and leave it at least 24 hours before dialing 999.
“It is time to dispel the old stereotype about firefighters rescuing cats from trees, our crews are highly trained emergency service personnel,” London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said. “If there is a cat up a tree, or an animal stuck anywhere, the first port of call should always be the RSPCA, not the emergency services.
“What’s worrying is that when firefighters are out rescuing animals, they’re not available to attend real emergencies,” he added. “Each animal rescue costs money and in these tough financial times, many people would question why their taxes are being spent on some of the animal rescues we’ve highlighted today.”
Over the last five years animal rescue incidents have increased from 389 to 620 per year, with each rescue
costing the taxpayer around £250.
10 of the strangest London Fire Brigade animal rescue callouts:
1. An iguana rescued from a roof in Tower Hamlets [May 2007]
2. A parrot trapped in its cage in Waltham Forest [January 2008]
3. A dog stuck in a wheelchair in a flat in Richmond [May 2008]
4. A puppy with its head stuck in an exercise machine in a house in Hillingdon [April 2008]
5. A kitten with its head stuck in a bongo drum in Newham [October 2009]
6. A snake on the loose at a retirement home in Hounslow [July 2009]
7. Kitten with its head stuck in a jam jar in Lewisham [June 2009]
8. A chimp in a chimney in Tower Hamlets [January 2010]
9. An adult hamster trapped in a disabled lift in Greenwich [April 2010]
10. A kitten trapped in a reclining chair in Croydon [May 2012]