Jun 26 2012
Elf ‘n’ Safety? Boy, 15, Climbs 60ft Tree to Save Cat Stuck for FIVE Days … After Firemen Do Nothing
Kyle Watkinson climbed a 60ft tree to save a cat that was stuck for five days because local firefighters ‘could be putting their lives at risk’ to save it
Once it would have been a simple job for a fire brigade happy to do its bit for the community.
Not any longer. When Diesel the cat refused to come down from a 60ft spruce tree, he was stuck there for five days – because of health and safety rules.
The local fire and rescue service feared its officers would be ‘putting their lives at risk’ if they tried to rescue him.
In the end it was a 15-year-old boy who came to the cat’s aid – without the benefit of the fire brigade’s ladders, safety nets or cranes.
As Diesel’s mews trailed off into silence and his owner feared he would die from dehydration, Kyle Watkinson simply climbed the tree and brought him down yesterday afternoon.
Kyle, a keen climber, said: ‘It wasn’t hard and it isn’t even the worst tree I have climbed. I was scared for the cat but never for myself.
‘I am happy to have saved Diesel, but would like to send a message to the firefighters and the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals that they should be helping animals in trouble.
‘They said it was too risky – but I just can’t see how, when I’m a 15-year-old boy and I got up and got the cat down with no bother at all.’
A border dispute between English and Scottish firemen only added to the problem, while an animal welfare charity said it was also unable to help.
Diesel’s owner Adele Harland thanked Kyle, but criticised Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue for refusing to even attempt to save her 18-month-old cat.
Mrs Harland added: ‘If I had gone out and tied Diesel to a tree the SSPCA would be here quickly enough, wanting to prosecute me for cruelty. But when I ask for help to get him down a tree, they don’t want to know.’
Diesel got stuck 60 feet up the spruce tree last Tuesday evening.
Mrs Harland, a nursery worker in the Borders village of Foulden, rang the local fire brigade, but was told it wasn’t its policy to rescue cats from trees. The SSPCA said the same thing.
The Northumberland Fire Service initially agreed to come out, but then said it could not sent a team across the border.
Mrs Harland spent four nights helplessly listening to her cat’s terrified cries before the weakened moggie went quiet. After a tree surgeon tried and failed to reach Diesel, a spokesman for the Borders fire service gave the following statement: ‘The cat has been up nearly a week now.
‘The cat was too high for the tree surgeon to reach and he was not going to put his life at risk by going any further.
‘Similarly, we are not going to put the lives of our firefighters at risk. The SSPCA are of a similar opinion.’
But help was on its way. By chance a friend of Kyle’s mother, Margaret Muir, had emailed her after hearing about Diesel’s plight.
Mrs Muir, 38, said: ‘We have never met the people involved, but I called Kyle and we got straight in the car. I would never have put my son at risk if I thought he couldn’t do it, but it was fine. He wants to be a doctor but it seems he might have a back-up career as a firefighter now.’
A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue said: ‘We advised the owner of the cat that we have a policy of not putting the lives of operation crews at risk unnecessarily.’
Mike Flynn, of the SSPCA, said: ‘We explained to the owner of a cat in the Berwick-upon-Tweed area that as a tree surgeon was unable to reach her cat and the fire service was unable to assist, unfortunately there was nothing further we were able to do.’