Animal rescue costs by emergency services in London have increased by 52% since 2016, an analysis by SWL has found.
London Fire Brigade (LFB) spent £50,920 on animal rescue incidents in south west London in 2016, and £78,316 in 2021.
Similar costs were incurred in other parts of the capital, with north west London revealed to have incurred the highest costs.
The number of animal rescue incidents in south west London has increased by 47% since 2016, in line with other parts of the capital.
An LFB spokesperson told SWL that there were a number of reasons as to why there was an uptick in animal rescue incidents:
“It could be partly due to people spending more time outdoors – going on more walks and doing more exercise during lockdown – who have spotted these animals in distress and called 999.
“We’re also aware of a spike in people getting pets during the pandemic so this could be another reason for the increase.
“Firefighters love animals too and we are always willing to help distressed or injured animals but we do encourage people to call the RSPCA in the first instance and we will assist if our specialist equipment is required.”
An RSPCA spokesperson said: “The RSPCA can request the help of the fire and rescue service, but it is entirely up to them whether or not to attend.
“Some crews use animal rescues for training but emergencies involving people will always take priority.
“In some cases crews attend to minimise the risk of members of the public attempting to carry out rescues themselves and potentially putting themselves in danger.”
The amount of time spent at each incident, known internally as “pump time”, has not risen in any quarter of the capital, according to LFB’s data.
The costs are calculated by the time spent by LFB at incidents multiplied by a set hourly rate.
This hourly rate, otherwise known as the Brigade rate, increases each year due to rising costs, according to an LFB spokesperson.