LOTHIAN and Borders Fire Brigade has refuted claims that it didn’t come to the rescue of a cat stranded 60ft up a tree due to healthy and safety reasons, insisting it is against policy to rescue small animals.
Eighteen-month-old Diesel was stuck up a tree near to his owner’s house in Foulden for five days. After the fire and rescue service said it wouldn’t attend and a tree surgeon couldn’t reach the cat, it was left to 15-year-old Kyle Watkinson from nearby Chirnside to come to the rescue.
After hearing of Diesel’s plight via Facebook, the teenager, who is an experienced climber, made his way up the tree to reach the frightened animal
Diesel was stuck from a week past Tuesday night until Sunday, and owner Adele Harland said she had too listen to his cries of distress, knowing she herself couldn’t do anything to save him.
Before the rescue, she said: “I could see and hear him but I just can’t get to him. I was going out and calling up to him and he would respond to my shouts.
Friends started a Facebook campaign to spur the authorities into action. It was seen by Kyle Watkinson’s mum, who drove him to the scene.
Adele added: “I told the boy I was really grateful. Diesel did not seem too shaken but he was absolutely starving. Of course, we’re happy with how it’s turned out.”
Kyle himself was quite modest about his achievements.
He said: “It wasn’t hard and it wasn’t even the worse tree I have climbed. I was scared for the cat at times but never for myself.”
A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Fire Service said the reason for its non-attendance wasn’t, as was reported elsewhere, because it didn’t want to put firefighters lives at risk – “we do all kinds of working at heights on an every basis” - it was down to the fact that it is no longer the service’s policy to rescue small animals, particularly during a weekend where they had been inundated with more serious calls.
A spokesperson told us’: “We did not mobilise to the incident because it is not our policy to rescue cats from trees.
“With a finite number of resources we have to ensure that we use our crews in the most appropriate way, saving the lives of people being our top priority.
“Also on the day in question we were very busy dealing with flooding calls, some of a life threatening nature.
“We did however make time to advise the caller on how best to resolve the situation.
“In the case of cats they will often come down a tree themselves in good time. On some occasions they may be rescued from a tree only to return straight back up it and we need to determine whether that is the best use of our time.
“The owner of this cat said it had been up the same tree on three previous occasions each time managing to find a way back down.”