YOU may think firefighters occasionally provide assistance to cats stuck in trees but local moggies are not the only animals rescued by firecrews.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service was called out to bizarre incidents including a parrot stuck in a cage, a hamster in an oven and a horse stuck in manure.

In the last four years the service has rescued 181 animals – 53 pets, 28 farm animals and 15 birds – at a total cost of £33,800.

Nigel Wilson, Operations Commander for Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service, said the cost was a “tiny fraction” of the service’s £25m annual budget.

The Oxford Times:

Nigel Williams

He said: “This small spend saves significant sums that may have to be spent on rescuing or searching for members of the public who get into trouble when trying to rescue an animal themselves.”

He said the service was working to educate the public to try and reduce the figures.

He said: “We encourage dog walkers to be extra vigilant in cold weather and ensure that leads are used near frozen water courses, as ice can give way under a dog’s weight and often owners cannot help their animal without putting themselves in danger.

“These messages help to bring down the number of animal rescues and the associated costs.”

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service has a specialist team who are trained to rescue large animals.

Last September a specialist rescue unit from Kidlington, along with a fire engine from Dennington, rescued a horse trapped in a ditch at Dun’s Tew, near Banbury.

Janet Fisher, who set up The West Oxford Animal Rescue (WOAR) in the mid 1970s, took in three hedgehogs that had been rescued from the recent flooding in Oxford.

She said: “The help from the fire service is valuable to the community and we can’t do without them.

“They are helpful and also offer guidance and advice when an animal has got into difficulty.”

She added: “The fire service were not involved in the hedgehog rescue, a member of the public brought them in, but they must absolutely keep helping the animals of Oxfordshire, it’s so important.”

The Oxford Times: Oxon animal rescue table