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Islington firefighters wasting time and money on animal rescue calls

12:29 16 July 2012

A parrot was stuck behind a fire place in Islington in May this year. Credit PA

A parrot was stuck behind a fire place in Islington in May this year. Credit PA

PA Archive/Press Association Images

A parrot stuck behind a fireplace and a cat trapped in a basement are just two animal rescues Islington firefighters have been called to deal with this year.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) has revealed details of the borough’s bizarre animal-related 999 calls – which have totalled 124 over the past six years – as it launches a campaign urging people to think carefully before calling the emergency service for pets and wildlife.

Other recent examples include a cat trapped behind sheds in October, another stuck in a hole behind a kitchen cupboard in August 2010, and a dog with its head stuck in a metal gate in June 2010.

LFB attended 620 animal incidents across the capital in 2011 – a 60 per cent increase on 2006. It equates to London fire crews attending an animal incident every 14 hours.

So concerned is the brigade about the rise that the I’m An Animal, Get Me Out of Here campaign has been launched in partnership with the RSPCA.

Rhys Powell, the LFB’s borough commander for Islington, 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.

“We’re asking pet owners to keep a close eye on their animals in a bid to avoid some of these situations from happening. What’s worrying is that when firefighters are out rescuing animals, they’re then not available to attend real emergencies.

“Each animal rescue costs money and in these tough financial times, I can’t imagine many people would want their taxes being spent on some of the animal rescues we’ve highlighted.

“That said, we don’t want people putting themselves at risk to save an animal and will always attend if there’s a genuine emergency.”

Klare Kennett, spokesman for the RSPCA, said: “We’d always advise people to call us in the first instance and if we need help we will call the fire brigade.

“If you see a cat up a tree, we’d advise you leave it for 24 hours before calling the RSPCA as they usually manage to get themselves down.”

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