Committee against plans to introduce charge for rescuing animals


- Credit: Cambs Fire & Rescue Service

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service should not impose a charge for rescuing animals, according to councillors.

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

In the last three years, the 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.

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“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 councillors on the Fire Authority in October.