Lincolnshire firefighters are urging members of the public not to put their own lives on the line rescuing animals.
The county’s fire and rescue service now has six stations with a total of 65 specially-trained personnel, who can save animals without risking life and limb.
Firefighters claim that some people feel rescuing animals is a time-wasting exercise for the emergency services. But they add that if they did not attempt to save them, members of the public would – risking injury and even death.
Chris Lowe from the Urban Search and Rescue team said: “By its very nature, mounting any rescue is dangerous and requires specialist skills.
“If a person or an animal has fallen in the position of needing to be rescued, then the situation is already hazardous.
“Anyone who enters that situation unprepared and inexperienced will only make the situation worse and more difficult for us to deal with – as well as jeopardise their own life. Please leave it to the experts.”
Mr Lowe urges dogwalkers to use extra precaution during wintry conditions, when animals falling through ice-covered lakes and rivers is an all-too-common event: “Our advice is to either avoid these areas or at least keep the dog on a lead at all times,” he said.
In 2011, Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue responded to 62 incidents involving animals ranging from cats and dogs to horses and deer.
And in a rural county like Lincolnshire, where animals can be livelihoods as well as much-loved pets, the service’s efforts are crucial.
The service’s animal rescue training, involves four days of intense tuition on animal pyschology and behaviour, as well as the latest rescue techniques. This is followed by two days learning how to handle animals at the University of Lincoln’s agriculture and land-based studies centre at Riseholme.
The fire brigade warns that if you see an animal in extreme danger don’t attempt to rescue it yourself, call 999.