Firemen dig deep to rescue our animals
MORE than 300 animals have been rescued by the county’s firefighters in the last five years, new figures show.
Fire crews have been called out to 312 incidents since 2009, including 79 requests to help dogs, 77 to rescue horses and ponies, and 54 to save cats and kittens.
Cattle found themselves in peril 43 times, sheep needed assistance on 13 occasions, while donkeys twice found themselves stuck.
There were also rescue requests for 43 birds including seven pigeons, four ducks, three swans, three seagulls, a goose and a heron.
The most unusual animal that prompted a call to the fire service was a chinchilla, which got stuck in a wall cavity.
The intriguing figures emerge following a dramatic rescue of Henry, pictured, the seven-year-old border terrier from Macclesfield, who got stuck in a rabbit hole for four days. Henry vanished in fields behind his home in Prestbury on September 14 and after a failed three-day search from desperate owner Beverley Leonard Cheshire fire service sent its animal rescue unit. Despite using specialist cameras to search the rabbit holes Henry could not be seen or heard.
In a final act of desperation to get Henry to reveal his whereabouts Beverley spent three hours in the dark playing the noise of her front door bell down every rabbit hole.
Eventually, Henry did respond and firefighters returned to the field to dig him free.
His rescue isn’t the most bizarre from the county, crews have been called a dog trapped in settee
springs, a cat stuck a washing machine and a horse wedged in a manhole.
Since 2009 firefighters have been called to in Macclesfield, Bollington and Poynton 43 times.
These included eight dogs, eight horses, seven cattle, six cats and kittens, six birds and five sheep.
It costs around £300 every time an appliance is called out. Rescues by Cheshire Fire Service have cost taxpayers about £93,600 since 2009.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has two specialist Animal Rescue Units strategically placed at Knutsford and Bollington fire stations. A spokesman for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “Firefighters do sometimes attend animal rescues, mainly when called in by the RSPCA or when there is a serious risk people could get injured trying a rescue themselves.
“We’ve two specialist Large Animal Rescue Units. The aim of these is to keep firefighters safe when dealing with incidents involving animals such as horses and cattle.
“Large animals, especially those in a distressed state, can be a real threat to the safety of our firefighters, which is why it is so important for us to ensure that we have firefighters specifically trained and equipped to deal effectively with this type of rescue.”
An RSPCA spokesman added: “The RSPCA is always grateful to the fire service in their efforts in dealing with rescues involving animals.
“RSPCA staff are highly trained but sometimes need help due to sheer volume of calls and lack of special equipment, we just cannot carry out all the rescues ourselves.
“Therefore we’re always thankful the fire service is able to attend these rescues and help animals in distress.
“Many fire services welcome these as ‘ real life’ training opportunities for their staff, and are happy to help prevent a creature from suffering.”