ANIMALS stuck up at height are the most common callout for fire brigade rescue missions in the North-East and Yorkshire, new figures have revealed.

For many fire services, such as Cleveland Fire Brigade and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, the stereotypical cat-stuck-up-a-tree scenario remains a popular callout for animal-related incidents, followed closely by being stuck in water or mud and calls for assistance when lifting heavy animals.

Figures in a Freedom of Information request from the Home Office showed that collectively both fire services rescued more than 600 animals between April 2012 and March 2017. This included pets, livestock and wild animals and birds.

Although the first port of call for most animal emergencies is the RSPCA, statistics showed that more than five firefighters deal with each animal rescue.

A spokesperson for the RSPCA said that often fire brigades will use animal incidents for training purposes.

She said: “The RSPCA works very closely with the emergency services and the charity is always very grateful for any help it receives from them.

“Last year the RSPCA was called to collect or rescue 114,584 animals. In situations where RSPCA officers are unable to reach an animal that is trapped or injured, the animal charity can request the help of the fire and rescue service, though it is entirely up to them whether or not they attend.

“In some cases, crews attend to minimise the risk of members of the public attempting to carry out rescues themselves and potentially putting themselves in danger.”

Among the standard animal call-outs there can be some unusual cases, including the rescue of a cat from an extractor fan in a Darlington pizza shop and the removal of an 8ft-long boa constrictor called Billy stuck in a gas fireplace.

One unusual incident happened in North Yorkshire last year, when a kitten became stuck in a reclining chair.

Officers from North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue service were called to a home in Tadcaster to save Coco the 12-week-old kitten.

The feline had crawled under the living room sofa and moved its head into the furniture’s mechanism where it quickly became stuck.

The fire service spent more than an hour cutting through the sofa with hacksaws and bolt cutters after the owner told them to do “whatever they can” to free the kitten.

Bob Hoskins, station manager for prevention at North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, said he had not seen such a case in his 23 years with the service.

“Small animal rescues are quite common,” he said. “We get dogs stuck in holes, and cats up trees is a common one, but a cat in a sofa is a first.”