London Fire Brigade

Animal rescues rise by 60 per cent across London

09 July 2012

The number of animals rescued by the capital’s firefighters has shot up by almost 60 per cent over the past six years, according to the new figures released today by the London Fire Brigade.

The Brigade was called out to rescue  620 animals in 2011 – almost a 60 per cent increase on the 389 animal rescues carried out in 2006, meaning that the capital’s fire crews are called out to rescue an animal every 14 hours.  Firefighters have  been called to more animal rescue incidents in the first half of this year than for the same period in 2011.  Just over half of the incidents involve cats and around a quarter involve dogs.

So concerned is the Brigade, about the rise in these incidents, along with the RSPCA, it is launching its first ever animal rescue campaign, I’m An Animal, Get Me Out of Here. It hopes the campaign will remind people  to think carefully before dialling 999 when they see an animal in difficulty.

To raise awareness of its concerns about the growing number of animal rescues, the Brigade has released a list of some of the more unusual incidents it has been called out to in the past six years. The Brigade is urging people to keep a close eye on their pets and aims to highlight that the fire brigade should not always be their first port of call.

In the past five years, the capital’s firefighters have been called out to:

1. Rescue an iguana from a roof in Tower Hamlets in May 2007
2. A parrot trapped in its cage in Waltham Forest in January 2008
3. A dog stuck in a wheelchair in a flat in Richmond in May 2008
4. A puppy with its head stuck in an exercise machine in a house in Hillingdon in April 2008
5. A kitten with its head stuck in a bongo drum in Newham in October 2009
6. Capture a snake at a retirement home in Hounslow in July 2009
7. Two dogs in a toilet in Bromley in  July 2009
8. A chimp in a chimney in Tower Hamlets in January 2010
9. An adult hamster trapped in a disabled lift in Greenwich in April 2010
10. A kitten trapped in a reclining chair in Croydon in May 2012

London Fire Commissioner, Ron Dobson,  said:

“It is time to dispel the old stereotype about firefighters rescuing cats from trees, our crews are highly trained emergency service personnel. If there is a cat up a tree, or an animal stuck anywhere, the first port of call should always be the RSPCA, not the emergency services.

“Pet owners need  to keep a close eye on their animals in a bid to avoid some of these situations happening. What’s worrying is that when firefighters are out rescuing animals, they’re not available to attend real emergencies.

“Each animal rescue costs money and in these tough financial times, many people would question why their taxes are being spent on some of the animal rescues we’ve highlighted today.”

Klare Kennett, spokesperson for the RSPCA, said: “We’d always advise people to call us in the first instance and if we need help we will call the fire brigade.
“If you see a cat up a tree, we’d advise you leave it for twenty four hours before calling the RSPCA as they usually manage to get themselves down. After all, when was the last time you saw a cat’s skeleton up a tree?”


Notes to editors

More information can be found on the ‘I’m An Animal, Get Me Out of Here!’ page on the Brigade’s website or contact Emma Cullen in the Brigade’s press office on 020 8536 5922 or

More information about the campaign

Posters: The Brigade has created eye catching posters featuring three different animals: a cat up a tree, a dog stuck in a fence and a parrot behind a fireplace, which will be sent to veterinary organisations and animal rescue charities to try and reach as many animal lovers as possible.

Facebook: The Brigade will be using its Facebook page to ask animal lovers to share their I’m An Animal, Get Me Out of Here!’ posters with their friends. ‘Animal Crackers’ videos will be uploaded to show people some weird and wonderful animal rescue situations and the public will be encouraged to join in the debate about who should rescue animals that have become stuck somewhere. 

Twitter: From 9 July the Brigade  will tweet about every single animal rescue incident its crews are called out to in a bid to highlight the number and type of incidents it’s called out to. Follow the Brigade @LondonFire

Key statistics

The number of animal rescue incidents that the capital’s firefighters have been called out to have increased by almost 60 per cent over the past five years (59% increase from 389 to 620).
Between 2006 – May 2012 the Brigade has attended 3337 incidents.
Each animal rescue costs around £250.
Around  57% of the incidents involve cats and around 24% involve dogs.
The London borough with the highest number of animal rescue incidents is Croydon with a total of 153 over the past six years.
2006: 389 animal rescues
2007: 487 animal rescues
2008: 444 animal rescues
2009: 568 animal rescues
2010: 611 animal rescues
2011: 620  animal rescues
January 2012-beginning of May 2012: 218  (as compared with 181 for the same period in 2011)

Other examples of animal rescues the capital’s firefighters have been called out to include:

  • A kitten with its head stuck in a jam jar in Lewisham in June 2009
  • A squirrel in a toilet in Haringey in May 2011
  • A parrot trapped in its own cage in Waltham Forest in January 2008
  • A rabbit trapped under a sofa in Havering in June 2009
  • A cat with its head trapped in a wendy house door in Hillingdon in July 2006
  • A cat trapped in a flower basket in Tower Hamlets in April 2009
  • A parrot behind a fire place in Islington in February 2012
  • 19 animals trapped in or behind washing machines