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Introduction

This guidance, for fire and rescue services attending incidents involving animals, is primarily about animal rescue. However, the owner of the animal, or other well-intentioned members of the public, may also be involved in the incident – they will need to be considered in the fire and rescue service’s response.

Incidents involving animals may require the rescue or evacuation of an animal. This activity may present hazards to members of the public, the animal or emergency responders. Fire and rescue services, when attending an incident involving animals, may need to:

  • Carry out physical animal handling or movement
  • Collaborate with other agencies, specialist resources and animal rescue teams
  • Interact with the owner of the animal
  • Deal with members of the public

Memoranda of understanding (MoUs) may be established, or mutual aid may be in place, that can be called on to support interoperability.

Traditionally, fire and rescue services have developed separate policies and procedures for large animal rescues and small animal rescues. This guidance takes a more holistic approach, as the hazards and control measures are often the same or very similar, regardless of the size of animal involved.

However, if fire and rescue services wish to continue with developing separate policies and procedures, this guidance will support that approach.

The nature of an incident involving animals, taking into account factors such as the species involved and the environment the animal is in, may identify the level of competency of the fire and rescue service personnel who should attend.

Some of the control measures in this guidance, for example the techniques for moving or lifting animals, require specialist skills. Summaries of those techniques have been provided as a reminder about their use, but should not be seen as a substitute for training and practice.