Large animal rescues scrapped in north Wales fire cuts

Wesley winched to safety Image copyright Kelsey Rees-Dykes
Image caption Fire crews helped lift Wesley the horse to safety after he got stuck upside down in a field in Conwy in 2012

Firefighters in north Wales will stop rescuing large trapped animals from April because it can no longer afford it.

National Farmers Union Cymru (NFU) said that unlike farmers, firefighters had the necessary equipment to deal with such emergencies.

The British Horse Society said the move compromised animal welfare and could put people in danger.

It follows warnings 228 firefighters' jobs could go amid budget cut plans.

The north Wales service has long responded to animal rescues, and only last month firefighters helped free two cows after they fell down a mineshaft in Holywell.

But North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority said such non-statutory assistance could no longer be carried out because of budget cuts.

Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption Firefighters helped rescue two cows which had fallen down a mineshaft in Holywell in December

Stephen James, president of NFU Cymru, said the organisation would write to the authority to raise concerns and highlight the importance of such a service in rural Wales.

Jan Roche, director for Wales of the British Horse Society, said it understood the problems that come with tight budgets but felt the move was a "retrograde step".

She said it could not only compromise animal welfare but potentially put people in danger, because it could be extremely dangerous to deal with a frightened animal.

The Farmers' Union of Wales said it hoped the decision could be re-evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

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