Animal rescue cost defended

Fleetwood Community Fire Station

Fleetwood Community Fire Station

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Firefighters helped rescue a dog stuck in railings in Poulton, a chicken stuck behind a greenhouse in Thornton, a horse stuck in a fence in Poulton and a sheep tangled in brambles in Poulton in the past year.

Those were just some of the 46 animals rescued by firefighters in Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre over the past two years at an estimated cost of £27,600.

Firefighters in Lancashire were called out more than 200 times to rescue animals in 2012/13 and 2013/14 – costing around £127,000 based upon the typical £600 call-out cost.

The figures do not include incidents which also affected people, such as animals being rescued from house fires.

National campaign group The Taxpayers Alliance has called on Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service to cut the amount of money it spends on rescuing animals.

Its chief executive, Jonathan Isaby, said: “It’s crucial we drive down on these costs and ensure emergency services react proportionately to these kind of call-outs.”

But Carol Willacy, from Pike Court, Fleetwood, who relies on her support dog Billy, due to her osteoarthritis and severe mobility problems, hit out at the suggestion.

She said Billy had twice potentially saved her life, once by pawing at a neighbour’s door when she collapsed, and another time by licking her face to revive her two hours after she had fainted.

“If anything ever happened to Billy I would want an emergency response to help him just as he helped me,” said Carol, 45.

“A lot of people rely on animals, especially if they live alone like me, and they can mean everything to you emotionally. It would also risk human life because people would take it into their own hands to rescue their pets.”

John Taylor, a spokesman for Lancashire Fire Service, said: “There will always be those who point the finger and say, ‘What’s the point in sending firefighters to rescue hamsters?’ It’s partly a humanitarian thing, but our service is about saving life and property, and animals fall into both those categories.”