Fire­men dig deep to res­cue our an­i­mals

Macclesfield Express - - ROBERT HART - STU­ART GREER

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.”

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