As fire crews rescue a cow from a water filled ditch at Whittlesey and a foal from the river near March, report urges fire authority not to charge for rescuing animals.

Cow in the river

Cow in the river - Credit: Archant

As fire crews rescued a cow trapped in a water filled ditch at Whittlesey and a foal from the river near March, the county’s fire authority is to be recommended not to impose a charge for rescuing animals.

Foal in the river

Foal in the river - Credit: Archant

The authority’s scrutiny committee recommended against the move after mulling over a report which explored the viability of imposing a charge on animal owners.

On Sunday crews from Whittlesey and Dogsthorpe and a rescue vehicle from Dogsthorpe were called to an animal stuck in water off the B1040 in Whittlesey.

A cow was trapped in a water-filled ditch and firefighters used specialist animal rescue equipment and techniques to release it.

Crews returned to their stations by 6.25pm.


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The day before crews from March and Dogsthorpe and a rescue vehicle were called to an animal in water off the A605 at Rings End.

A foal was trapped in a river and in-water animal rescue teams were deployed and using specialist animal rescue equipment and techniques they rescued the foal.

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They returned to station by midday

In the last three years Cambs fire service has attended 285 calls to help rescue trapped animals, of which, it says, 103 could not be traced to an owner because the animal was wild.

The remaining 182 calls – some 64 per cent - involved dogs, horses, sheep and cows but no charge was levied against owners.

The report noted: “If costs were recovered at all 182 incidents, at approximately £370 per incident, the amount would be £67,155.

“In order to charge for a special service, the service requires consent from the owner to carry it out; experience suggests gaining this consent is virtually impossible.

“Where the owner is present, they are likely to be in a highly charged or emotional state and watch or crew commanders may not feel it is appropriate to add to their anxiety by presenting the form to sign explaining that they will be charged for the service.

“With no incident being charged for during three years of operations, the associated administrative burden cannot be quantified at this time.”

The report also noted that introducing a charge would damage the “compassionate” reputation of the service.

The service says it has spent £95,000 training three specialist animal rescue crews, based in Huntingdon, Cambridge and Dogsthorpe, as well as providing additional training to on-call and part-time fire crews.

The committee’s recommendation will be considered by the fire authority in October.

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