Bizarre animal rescues revealed
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 have said.
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.
Unusual rescues in recent years include a chimp in a chimney, a parrot trapped in its cage, an iguana stuck on a roof and a hamster trapped in a disabled lift.
Fire crews have also had to capture a snake at a retirement home and rescue a kitten with its head stuck in a bongo drum.
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.
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.
Currently more than half the animal rescues fire crews are called to in London involve cats and around a quarter are to help dogs in distress.
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."