FIREFIGHTERS had to rescue ​almost two of Hampshire’s hapless pets from rivers, trees and other sticky situations every week last year.

National Fire Chiefs Council guidance says crews must be equipped to deal with incidents involving animals in peril, to prevent members of the public putting their lives at risk to save their pets.

Home Office figures show the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service came to the aid of pets 98 times in 2018-19​ – an average of ​1.9 rescues per week.

They made up 65 per cent of the 150 animal assistance callouts crews attended over the year, with the remainder attributed to wild animals (18 per cent) and livestock (17 per cent).

Fire crews across England carried out almost 5,000 animal rescues over the same period, more than half of them involving pets.

Hampshire’s firefighters were most commonly needed to rescue pets from height, such as up trees or on roofs, with crews attending 37 incidents during the year.

​The next most common predicament involved ​pets wedged in tight spots or entangled, such as in fences or drain covers, accounting for 36 callouts.

While fire and rescue services encourage people concerned about an animal’s welfare to contact the RSPCA first, to avoid calling crews out unnecessarily, the animal rescue charity says the assistance of firefighters is a vital help to their officers.

A spokeswoman said: “We work closely with fire and rescue services across England and Wales and are incredibly grateful to them for support helping us rescue animals from tricky situations, as well as carrying out their own animal rescues.

“Unfortunately there are many times where it simply isn’t safe for us to rescue animals, such as from heights or if specialist equipment and expertise are required, so collaborative working is vital in these situations to save animals.

“In these circumstances, we will sometimes request the help of firefighters but it’s up to them if they attend, and emergencies involving people will always take priority.”

l In 2018-19, firefighters from the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service attended to:

66 animals trapped or entangled

43 rescues from heights

13 harmed or injured animals

11 water or mud rescues

Eight heavy animals in need of lifting

Four creatures retrieved from below ground

Five uncategorised incidents