Strange Norfolk animal rescues

PUBLISHED: 11:49 23 October 2009 | UPDATED: 15:24 03 July 2010

A dog jammed between two farm rollers and another with its paw stuck in a bicycle are among some of the strange animal rescues our county's firefighters have been called out on in the past two years.

A dog jammed between two farm rollers and another with its paw stuck in a bicycle are among some of the strange animal rescues our county's firefighters have been called out on in the past two years.

Between September 2007 and September 2009, Norfolk's fire service attended 264 animal rescues - 173 of which were small animals, such as cats, dogs, birds and deer, and 91 large animals, such as horses.

While the majority of rescues were horses and cows from ditches and rivers, birds trapped in chimneys and mesh on buildings, and cats stuck in high places such as trees, roofs and telegraph poles, the fire service has reported several more unusual cases.

In May, a crew was called to George Borrow Road, in Earlham, to save a dog which had its head stuck in an automatic gate. It took the crew from Norwich five minutes to free it using hydraulic rescue equipment.

Another small dog got its paw stuck in a bicycle in Cobholm, in February, and a fire crew from Yarmouth was called. They used hand tools to free the dog's paw.

In July, a cat became stuck in the thatching of a roof in Yarmouth and the crew had to use a 9m ladder to rescue it.

And in March, in Gayton, near King's Lynn, a Jack Russell got itself stuck between some farm rollers, and a crew had to spend about 20 minutes freeing the dog with hand tools.

Martin Barsby, spokesman for the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “There are a number of incidents and anecdotes concerning animal rescues I've come across during my time at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service. These include a muntjac deer falling down a cellar at the old Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, a bird nesting up a Christmas tree, a kitten stuck under a fridge and a bat caught in fishing line suspended half way across the River Yare.

“As with any incidents the service attends, our crews are never quite sure what they will be faced with until they arrive, and with animal rescues it can often take the ingenuity of the crew to carry out the rescue.

“It is impossible to give an exact cost for these rescues as they will all have taken a varying length of time. We estimate it costs around £300 an hour to put a fire engine on the run, but it would not be a case of multiplying £300 by 264 as most animal rescues take minutes.”

Perry Smith, technical services officer at the service, said: “The majority of our response work involves dealing with such incidents as road traffic collisions and fires, and that work will always come first. There are other occasions where we are called out and these calls can be to a variety of incidents.

“While the actual circumstances surrounding any incident are often different, they have something in common: someone or something is in danger, distress or difficulties and needs our assistance.

“We always work on a priority basis and would, of course, always deal with a human life risk ahead of anything else. There is a firefighters' maxim which is 'save life, protect property, render humanitarian services'. We don't automatically attend all animal rescues, but assess each incident and liaise closely with organisations such as the RSPCA. It may also be that seeing an animal in difficulties is causing distress to people and people may put themselves at risk to rescue a trapped animal. As always, we do what we can when we can.”

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