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CAT STUCK UP TREE

02-02-2010

The Stirrer wouldn’t normally trouble you with a “cat up tree” story, but in this instance we’ll make an exception – because it calls into question the responsiveness of the Fire Service and the RSPCA.

Last Friday, residents walking through Brunswick Park in Wednesbury were alarmed to see two cats mewing pathetically in the highest branches of a tree.

They assumed that eventually the pussies would find a way down, so passed on their way – but when the pair were still up there 24 hours later, they started making calls to the Fire Service and RSPCA.

No one is pretending that this was the priority for either organisation, but in this country firefighters have traditionally got their tallest ladders out to rescue trapped animals.

As for the RSPCA, this kind of episode, no matter how apparently trivial, is surely part of their mission.

Imagine the disappointment of the locals, then, when the following morning, the poor cats were still there. One was now practically motionless, and appeared to be dead or dying; the other was clearly in great distress.

At this point, local councilor Elaine Costigan was called in, and found herself desperately trying to rouse the authorities.

The Fire Service told her they couldn’t intervene unless the RSPCA asked them; and the animal charity were, in Cllr Costigan’s words, “so rude that I never want to deal with them again.

“The guy on the end of the phone was saying, ‘what do you want us to do? Cats get up trees all the time. They’ll come down’. He just wasn’t listening and was completely dismissive.

“The response was so rude, it made me think I wouldn’t bother next time.”

In fairness, the RSPCA did finally arrive at 3pm on Sunday, and with the Fire Service in attendance, the cats were rescued – and both, we’re happy to report, have survived.

But even amid the hurly burly of urban life, couldn’t there have been a swifter response?

The Fire Service have since told us that their policy is to attend animal-related incidents at the RSPCA’s request; and the RSPCA say that although they have 6 calls logged about the incident, none was from Elaine Costigan – even though she has witnesses to her conversations.

Nobody has explained why it took more than 24 hours from the first calls to help the poor cats stuck up a tree.

All most strange.

For the caring councilor who got involved it highlights a worrying development.

“I’ve never had cause to get involved with the RSPCA before, but if this is how they treat ordinary members of the public who are trying to help, next time I shan’t bother.”

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