Shropshire rescue crews work their animal magic

It’s been another year of lifting and cajoling for a specialist animal rescue unit based in Shropshire. The team, based at Wellington fire station in Telford, say it has been one of its busiest 12 months on record.

This herd of cattle was moved from the Shropshire Union Canal in Market Drayton

This herd of cattle was moved from the Shropshire Union Canal in Market Drayton

It is called out all over the county to help out when animals are in danger.

And other fire crews from across Shropshire have also attended their fair share of emergencies involving animals.

This year saw the first rescue where pet oxygen masks were used, following a huge fundraising campaign across the county to provide the equipment.

A special oxygen mask was used on Harriet

A special oxygen mask was used on Harriet

Harriet, a 15-year-old tortoiseshell tabby, had fled to a bedroom as smoke from a kitchen fire filled the house in Diksmuide Drive, Ellesmere.

Householder Shelley Hall had managed to rescue her two dogs and a Chinchilla, slumped in its cage, before escaping from the blaze which is believed to have started when clothes were put onto an electric cooker plate – later turned on by the cat.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus put out the blaze which totally destroyed the kitchen before searching the smoke filled semi-detached home to find the ailing cat in a bedroom.

The rescue in September was the first time that a specially designed oxygen mask had been used to save an animal in Shropshire. A campaign was held earlier this year to raise funds to buy enough pet oxygen masks so that they are available for all 23 county fire stations.

The rescue unit use specialist lifting equipment to help animals that find themselves stuck in mud or holes.

Joey was rescued in Weston, Prees Green

Joey was rescued in Weston, Prees Green

One of the first rescues of the year was a bull that got trapped in a slurry pit back in January.

Firefighters trained in animal rescue were called to Weston, Prees Green, near Whitchurch to rescue the two-year-old animal called Joey.

Darren Smith, watch manager for Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The farm has got a wall between the hardstanding and slurry tank.

“At some point over night or in the early hours of the morning the bull leant against the wall which gave away and caused the animal to fall in.

“When we got there they had tried to walk the bull out of the pit themselves but that didn’t work.

“The specialist animal rescue team from Wellington used a rescue harness.

“We managed to lift it out on to the hardstanding and release it into the pen.

“A vet was in attendance and checked him over but they didn’t have to sedate the animal. It was quite a sedate animal anyway.”

The Quatford reservoir rescue

The Quatford reservoir rescue

In June, half a dozen fire crews were called to help a cow that found itself stranded in deep water near Bridgnorth

The animal had to be pulled out of a reservoir by an off-road vehicle, after it fell in.

It got stuck in the water at Quatford and specialist fire crews had to be called out to get the cow back on dry land.

Earlier in the month a cow was hauled from a canal in the early hours after it wandered into the water at Adderley, near Market Drayton.

The cow was discovered at about 2am and again harnesses and straps were used to get it out of the water, in a operation that took about two hours.

A spokesman for Shropshire Fire and Rescue said it was quite common for livestock to go wandering off in search of a drink of water during the warmer weather, only to find themselves getting stuck or falling in.

Market Drayton crews were called out again when a whole herd of cattle wandered into a canal.

The cows got loose and into the Shropshire Union Canal main line, which runs through the town. The canal was blocked until they were moved. Crews were called on August 8 and spent almost an hour getting the cows out of the water and back to their usual home.

Fortunately, none of the cows was injured in the drama.

In October, firefighters were called out after a cat got stuck up an oak tree in Brown Heath, Wem.

One crew from Wem attended, and used a 13.5 metre ladder to save the Siamese/Burmese type cat that was stuck at a height of 10 metres.

The animal rescue charity RSPCA said the cat was “quite skittish and nervous” at the time as he had been up there for a couple of days.

A spokeswoman said: “The cat had already been there two days so with the help of the fire and rescue service we were able to use a ladder to get him down.

“Although he may have used up one of his nine lives fortunately he was back home safe and sound after a short time.”

The dog helped in Madeley

The dog helped in Madeley

And last month, a dog and its owner were led to safety by firefighters after the pet slipped down a steep bank in woodland.

A team of 10 went to Lloyds Meadow off Birbeck Drive, Madeley, after reports that a woman was stuck on a ledge.

The woman, believed to be in her 60s, was walking her pet with a friend when it slipped down the bank and came to rest on a ledge.

She managed to reach the animal, but was unable to climb back up to the footpath.

Also in November, a 30-year-old horse had to be rescued after becoming stuck on a cattle grid at Monkhopton near Bridgnorth. The task took almost three hours.

Shropshire Fire and Rescue service has set up the Animal Rescue Fund, where people can help the service to continue through donations.

To find out more contact