NEW figures have revealed that fire brigades in Yorkshire have spent almost £1m rescuing trapped and stranded animals.
The incredible amount is the result of hundreds of crazy call-outs across the county over the last five years.
Crews have been summoned to rescue a guinea pig stuck inside a toy car, a cat with its head stuck in a tin and a Labrador trapped under decking.
A gerbil stuck in a vacuum cleaner pipe and a puppy trapped in a tumble drier wasted valuable brigade time which could be spent on life-saving emergencies.
Other reports included horses and cows stuck in ditches and ponds plus saving pigeons, ferrets and snakes.
Fire chiefs are now urging members of the public to use the 999 service sensibly and only dial if there is a genuine emergency.
Since 2004, West Yorkshire crews have been called to rescue animals 625 times at an estimated cost of £366,000 pounds.
When the cost of the county’s other crews – Humberside, South Yorkshire and North Yorkshire – responding to similar calls are included it is thought the final figure could top £1m.
Susie Squire from the Taxpayers’ Alliance said: “A very large amount of taxpayers’ money is being spent on essentially not the core work of the fire brigade, which could potentially put human lives at risk at some stage”. Fire Brigades Union regional secretary Ian Murray said: “Firefighters don’t object at all to going out and helping animals in distress.
“However, I think we’ve all experienced the odd occasion where you’ve thought ‘why are we doing this?’. It’s tying up a pump and a crew where they could be used elsewhere”.