Cats can be a pain for firefighters

ESTHER ASHBY-COVENTRY
Last updated 05:00 04/08/2014
lex ferguson
JOHN BISSET/ Fairfax NZ
HELPFUL SQUIRTS: Fire Service senior station officer Lex Ferguson uses a fire extinguisher to calm large, "nasty" dogs.

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Fire fighters have been known to squirt CO2 at aggressive dogs to stop them in their tracks so it's a bit of a surprise that a cat got the better of one of them.

The incident occurred "a few years ago" but has since passed into South Canterbury fire fighting lore.

Called to rescue a cat from a tree near Grants Rd in Timaru the Washdyke service responded.

One of the *firefighters told his colleagues that cats loved him, so he would lure the stubborn creature from the branch on which it sat.

But the rescue attempt went downhill from there.

The feral feline was obviously not wanting to move and latched its sharp little bacteria-laden teeth on the "cat whisperer's" knuckle and refused to let go.

Once the victim and the cat were down from the tree and separated the cat ran off and the firefighter sought medical help.

Despite receiving stitches and injections to prevent problems the bite was so deep it had gone through his knuckle and the wound became infected.

He does not have an obvious scar now but did have to have a couple of weeks off work as his hand had swollen up.

Timaru senior station officer Lex Ferguson said cats seemed to cause more problems than dogs for the firefighters. When dogs were trapped or stuck they were usually exhausted by the time firefighters arrived and appeared pleased to be rescued.

He said generally when called to a fire, owners had already moved their dogs, but if there was a problem a squirt of CO 2 in the direction of the "nasty" animal gave them a fright or a cold nose which quietened them down.

"Generally we don't have a problem ... The barky, nippy small dogs we can just shake off, but they keep coming back," Ferguson said.

A St John spokeswoman said she did not know and could not comment on whether paramedics had problems with dogs or how they dealt with them.

*The victim confirmed the story but did not want his name published.

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- The Timaru Herald

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