By Kiro Evans, local democracy reporter
A furious mum has hit out at the London Fire Brigade for leaving her cat Buddy stuck up a tree for three days.
Alison Miles claims fire officers turned up twice to her home but refused to attempt a rescue. One firefighter allegedly saying “I don’t like cats.”
Two-year-old Buddy, a large white cat with black markings, jumped high into the 70-foot tree after being spooked by New Year’s Eve fireworks.
He was eventually coaxed down by a tree surgeon after three and a half days – a purr-fect end to the story.
He has now been reunited with Alison’s daughter Zoe, nine, who had three sleepless nights after Buddy’s misadventure.
Buddy’s sojourn among the bare branches got the community of Mottingham in South-East London involved. They rallied round to help and advise, with animal activist Paula Christou even attempting to scale the tree herself.
Alison said: “We’re relieved. It was the longest three and a half days of our life.
“To my family and to my daughter, he’s not a cat – he’s her baby. She didn’t sleep for the three nights he was out there. She couldn’t even thank the man who got him down as she was crying so much.
“If I could pick who I pay my taxes to, the fire brigade wouldn’t be there at all. Lewisham Fire Brigade came out and one officer said ‘I don’t like cats, I’m not risking my men.’ We pay their wages and they don’t want to do the job.
“As for the RSPCA, I’m disgusted with them. They haven’t even called to see if he needs treatment.
“I give £30 a month to the RSPCA – I’m stopping that as they don’t deserve it. They don’t care about animals.”
Animal lover Paula lives in Charlton but spent most of a day in Mottingham after seeing pictures of poor Buddy on Facebook
She said: “The young girl was distraught with her cat being up the tree. Twice she saw firemen come to do the rescuing thing that they’re meant to do and they’re her heroes as she thought they were going to save her cat.
“One time they walked up and said ‘no, I don’t like cats’, turned round and walked off.
“God help them if I’m ever stuck up a tree and they decide to leave me there.
The second time a different fire brigade service came as they were called by the RSPCA and they said ‘no, too much hassle – you’ll need a tree surgeon’ and they left as well. They didn’t even get out a ladder.”
“The tree surgeon managed to get him down most of the way and we were all standing underneath with blankets and sheets in case he jumped, which he did. An hour later I got a call to say he’s indoors, eating and drinking and having cuddles with the little girl.”
She thanked Patrick Schroth of PS Tree Specialists, the “amazing” tree surgeon who came out on Bank Holiday Monday to rescue Buddy.
He said: “I was told the cat had been up there for three days and nights and it wasn’t going to hang on much longer.
“It’s a little girl’s cat at the end of the day, so you do what you can, don’t ya?”
A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: “A crew from Eltham attended on Monday and the officer in charge looked at all options.
The cat was higher than the traditional ladders carried on fire engines and an aerial ladder would not have been able to pitch close enough to affect a rescue.
“Firefighters explained the situation to the residents, suggested a tree surgeon might be able to help and left so that they were available for another emergency call.
“Firefighters are animal lovers and two of the five firefighters who attended the scene are cat owners themselves. We’re very happy to see the safe return of the cat.”
An RSPCA spokesperson said: “As a charity we have limited resources, and over the new year weekend our animal rescue officer was called to a number of critical emergencies, including four foxes suffering with injured legs, a swan with a neck injury, a pigeon with a broken wing, and six orphan kittens abandoned in a car park.
“She was in touch with the cat’s owner and understood that the cat did not appear to be injured, and a fire service and a tree surgeon were being contacted.
“A second animal rescue officer followed up with a call yesterday (Tuesday 4 January) and we were really pleased to hear the cat was down from the tree, safe and uninjured.”
Pictured: generic picture of a cat
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