ANIMAL rescues across Dorset are costing the fire and rescue service tens of thousands of pounds.
But it’s a small price to pay compared to the cost of endangering lives should ordinary people attempt to help the animals, says the service.
Between 2010 and August last year there have been 281 animal rescues by Dorset Fire and Rescue Service – at a cost of more than £35,000.
Incidents include a horse with its leg stuck in a gate and two ponies stuck in a river.
The figures have been obtained by the Echo following a Freedom of Information request.
But far from comical stories of cats stuck up trees, the animal rescue team deals with situations that pose a serious threat to public safety, say those in charge.
Crew manager Allan Frias-Robles, pictured, in charge of animal rescues, said: “It is generally recognised that animal rescues, and in particular large animal rescues, are some of the most dangerous incidents we attend.
“To people who think it’s a lot of time and money, I would argue its benefits. Any emergency call will be vetted by our control room staff first.
“We will assess if the rescue is viable. This means that if the animal will not survive, the vet will euthanise it.”
In June the service went to the aid of Boozy the horse, whose leg became stuck in a metal gate.
Owner Elaine Macduff said Boozy has made a full recovery and praised the animal rescue team.
She added: “It is a brilliant service. The crews were good and worked well with the vet.
In 2008, the Chief Fire Officer’s Association (CFOA) set up an animal rescue forum which brought fire services across the UK together to create safer techniques for animal rescues.
Mr Frias-Robles said: “Since then we have developed safe and humane ways of dealing with animal rescues.
“Our new techniques – apart from being safer – will often result a swift rescue. Far more animals survive than say, ten years ago.”
Dorset Fire and Rescue’s animal rescue team undergo a two-day course at Kingston Maurward College, followed by a two-day in-house animal rescue technique course.
All officers are given training in how to deal with animals and undergo a yearly refresher.
Mr Frias-Robles added: “It saves the public from placing themselves at risk. An injury could be life threatening, never mind the cost to the NHS.”
2010, 91 rescues; 2011, 79 rescues; 2012, 68 rescues; 2013, 43 rescues to August.
Under the Fire & Rescue Act 2004 Section 11 the fire service has the power to respond to and take any action it considers appropriate in the event or situation that causes or is likely to cause: a. one or more individuals to die, be injured or become ill; b. harm to the environment (including the life and health of plants and animals).
The average cost of a crew of five attending an incident for a one hour ten mile round trip is £125. If each incident since 2010 lasted for an average of an hour, that means all together they have cost £35,125.