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Animal in water, on ice, or on unstable ground

Hazard Knowledge

An animal may appear to need to be rescued from water, ice or unstable ground. Many animals, such as dogs in water, may be able to extricate themselves and should be encouraged to do so. It may also be the case that an animal can be safely left in position, if the water surrounding it will recede or subside in a reasonable period of time.

If an animal welfare charity or other specialist confirms that the animal needs to be rescued, or if there is a danger that members of the public may try to intervene, the fire and rescue service may need to respond to the incident. However, it may not be viable to rescue the animal, for example, if it is in swift water.

It may be very challenging to access, control and rescue an animal from water, ice or unstable ground. Maintaining an egress route throughout the incident may also be difficult.

An animal could be entangled below the surface of the water, ice or unstable ground, for example by tree roots or debris. The animal’s limbs could also be in an unexpected position. Both of these possibilities should be investigated prior to attempting extrication, in order to avoid further injury to the animal.

Animals may be numbed by the temperature of the water, ice or unstable ground they are submerged in; they may not react to the impact of tools being used to extricate them. This could result in serious injury to the animal.