Animal rescues are down by 20 per cent over the last five years since London Fire Brigade launched its I’m An Animal, Get Me Out of Here campaign which aims to stop Londoners calling us for unnecessary animal rescues.
In 2011/12, firefighters were called out to rescue 650 animals but since the launch of their first ever animal rescue campaign these incidents have fallen to 526 last year.
Fire chief’s still believe that figure is far too high with fire crews called out to rescue an animal every 16 hours at a cost of around £16,500 a month.
“We’re asking people to think carefully before dialling 999 when they see an animal in difficulty and in the first instance calling the RSPCA. The RSPCA will then call for firefighters if they are required,” said a spokesperson.
Crews were called to a squirrel trapped on a satellite dish in Wandsworth
Over half of the animal rescues involved cats but some of the more unusual incidents include:
A ferret trapped in a lift shaft in Kingston.
A snake loose in a flat in Holloway.
A tortoise trapped in New Malden.
A chicken stuck in a tree in Stockwell.
A squirrel trapped in a gutter in Hornchurch.
London Fire Commissioner, Ron Dobson, said: “I’m pleased that our campaign has led to a reduction in animal call outs but there is still a lot to do to dispel the old stereotype about firefighters rescuing cats from trees.
“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.
“Pet owners need to keep a close eye on their animals in a bid to avoid some of these situations happening.
“What’s worrying is that when firefighters are out rescuing animals, they’re not available to attend real emergencies.”
John Grant, RSPCA chief superintendant for the south, added: “The RSPCA is always incredibly grateful for any help we receive from the fire service.
“We work very closely with the emergency services and their highly trained crews have assisted in many animal rescues over the years. Like any member of the public, the RSPCA can request the help of the fire and rescue service when there is a question of health and safety and we are unable to access and rescue an animal in trouble ourselves.”