2,000 animals saved by Yorkshire’s firefighters

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A SEAL trapped in rocks, a Royal raven tangled in a tree and a sheep wedged inside a five-metre-deep crevice are just some of the fortunate animals which have been rescued by Yorkshire’s firefighters.

Crews from the region’s four forces have helped to save nearly 2,000 animals between them in the past five years, Home Office figures show.

A spokeswoman for West Yorkshire’s fire and rescue service said: “Like the vast majority of the public, our staff and firefighters are animal lovers as well and take this part of our role extremely seriously.

“This can also be an extremely hazardous part of our work, particularly when dealing with larger animals, as they can react suddenly in the first few seconds after release.

“It is pleasing to note, though, that the vast majority of incidents we are called to conclude with a successful ending with the owner being reunited with their pets or animals.”

In total, Yorkshire’s firefighters rescued 1,114 pets, 427 farm animals and 334 wild animals or birds from 2012 to 2017.

Many of the animals had become trapped, while some were stuck in mud or water and others had become stranded in trees or other high places.

In May last year, a sheep managed to wedge itself inside a narrow five-metre deep crevice between rocks near Todmorden in Calderdale.

Ten firefighters used specialist rope equipment to lower themselves in and free the animal, which was unharmed.

In April last year, one of the Royal ravens at Knaresborough Castle was spooked by a dog and flew to a tree near Mother Shipton’s Cave, but became tangled in its handling jesses and could not fly off.

Firefighters from Harrogate retrieved the 10-year-old bird, called Mourdour, and returned it to Her Majesty’s Keeper of the Castle Ravens, Igraine Hustwitt-Skelton.

And in February 2016, firefighters in Scarborough teamed up with the RSPCA to help a seal which had become trapped in rocks return to the sea.

A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said it was always “very grateful for any help it receives” from firefighters

“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.”

A spokeswoman for the fire service in North Yorkshire said people should not try to rescue animals themselves, “as they may put themselves in danger and then also require help”.

She said: “We would always ask that for small animals such as dogs, cats and birds that people contact the RSPCA in the first instance. They will contact us if they need our help.”

The spokeswoman said the service had specialist animal rescue teams based at Malton, Ripon and Tadcaster which could safely deal with call-outs for larger animals such as cattle and horses, which were often distressed.

She said: “All operational incidents give us an opportunity to learn and practise our skills.”