Hundreds of pets rescued by fire service in West Sussex over five years

Hundreds of pets have been rescued by the West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service over five years, figures from the Home Office show.

Between April 2012 and March 2017, the service rescued 500 animals.

They included 271 pets, 110 livestock and 119 wild animals, including birds.

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Across England, there were over 23,000 callouts to save animals over the five-year period - an average of more than 4,500 a year.

Although the data does not state which animals were most commonly rescued, a previous freedom of information request showed that for many fire services, cats stuck up trees remained the most common animal rescue scenario.

It also showed that incidents over the period included:

* The rescue of a cat from an extractor fan in a Darlington pizza shop.

* The extraction of an 8ft-long boa constrictor called Billy from a gas fireplace in Lincolnshire.

* Helping a puppy escape from the mechanism of a reclining chair.

Animals being trapped was the most common reason for animal-related callouts in West Sussex between April 2012 and March 2017, accounting for 35% of cases. Other reasons included animals being stuck in water or mud or rescued from a height, or calls for assistance with lifting heavy animals.

On average, more than six firefighters dealt with each animal rescue. A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said that fire services often use the incidents for training purposes.

She said: “The RSPCA works very closely with the emergency services and the charity is always very grateful for any help it receives from them.

“Last year the RSPCA was called to collect or rescue 114,584 animals. In situations where RSPCA officers are unable to reach an animal that is trapped or injured, the animal charity can request the help of the fire and rescue service, though it is entirely up to them whether or not they attend.

“Some fire crews use animal rescues for training, but emergencies involving people will always take priority.

“In some cases, crews attend to minimise the risk of members of the public attempting to carry out rescues themselves and potentially putting themselves in danger.”