If you have a cat stuck up a tree, or a chimp up a chimney, the fire brigade should not be the first people you call, fire chiefs said today.
London Fire Brigade is concerned that it is having to deal with a rising number of animal rescues, with crews called out on average every 14 hours to deal with a creature in trouble last year.
Fire crews in the capital had to rescue 620 animals last year, a 60% increase over six years, and have already had to deal with more calls in the first half of this year than the same period in 2011.
In the past five years London Fire Brigade has been called to rescue or capture:
- An iguana from a roof in Tower Hamlets in May 2007;
- A parrot trapped in its cage in Waltham Forest in January 2008;
- A dog stuck in a wheelchair in a flat in Richmond in May 2008;
- A puppy with its head stuck in an exercise machine in a house in Hillingdon in April 2008;
- A kitten with its head stuck in a bongo drum in Newham in October 2009;
- A snake at a retirement home in Hounslow in July 2009;
- Two dogs in a toilet in Bromley in July 2009;
- A chimp in a chimney in Tower Hamlets in January 2010;
- An adult hamster trapped in a disabled lift in Greenwich in April 2010;
- A kitten trapped in a reclining chair in Croydon in May 2012.
The fire brigade is highlighting some of its more bizarre animal call-outs as part of a campaign to encourage people to keep an eye on their pets, and warn the public that they should not necessarily call 999 to help animals.
Cat up a tree: 'Leave it for 24 hours'
Fire chiefs want to dispel the stereotype of firefighters rescuing cats from trees, saying that if an animal is stuck somewhere the public should always call the RSPCA first.
London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said:
It is time to dispel the old stereotype about firefighters rescuing cats from trees, our crews are highly trained emergency service personnel.
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.
Klare Kennett, of the RSPCA, said the animal welfare charity advised people to call them first and if they needed help they called the fire brigade.
If you see a cat up a tree, we'd advise you to leave it for 24 hours before calling the RSPCA as they usually manage to get themselves down.
After all, when was the last time you saw a cat's skeleton up a tree?