A CAT rescued from a toy car and a snake behind a gas fire were just two of the animals rescued by Oxfordshire firefighters in the past two years.

According to official figures from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, it has spent hundreds of hours since the start of 2016 rescuing animals after they got into hairy situations.

In one case in August, firefighters were called to Benson four times in just three days after cows took dips in the River Thames and could not get out. Whether they were different cows or the same animal on different days is not included in the fire service’s information.

According to the Freedom of Information request, Oxfordshire firefighters spent more than 217 hours since the start of 2016 rescuing animals in addition to other callouts.

Potentially the highest-profile rescue was that of Spencer, a spaniel who was pulled out alive after being trapped in a pipe for three days in Tilsley Park, Abingdon, in February.

Owner Kat Athey said at the end of the ordeal: “It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, we’re so glad to have him back safe.”

Firefighters said they spent five hours at the scene on the first day of the rescue – but the mission was largely handled by Thames Water.

The fire and rescue’s logs show a cat was freed after it managed to get itself stuck in a toy car in Stanford in the Vale in December 2016, while a dog was trapped – and then freed – from a trampoline in Abingdon in February 2018.

A cat was trapped in a sofa bed in Oxford in April 2018, while five cats were pulled out a slurry pit at a farm in Bletchingdon in March 2016.

Simon Furlong, the fire and rescue service’s chief fire officer, said: “Every emergency and every animal, big or small, is important to our firefighters.

“We know how much anxiety is caused when a treasured pet becomes trapped.

“I’m proud of my firefighters. They aim to respond promptly to every emergency, and share the feel-good factor when an animal is safely returned to its owner.”

Another rescue included an adventure to free a snake that got into a spot of bother behind a gas fire at a home in Chinnor in December 2016. The fireplace was demolished – but still the snake did not come out. Firefighters left RSCPA officers to wait with the owner for its reappearance.

Meanwhile, four ducklings were taken out of guttering at a property in Oxford, before being put in the care of the RSPCA in May 2016.

And a rook was stuck in a tree in Long Hanborough in that same month – but was taken down by firefighters who were able to reach it by using a ladder and a saw.

A goose ‘came to rest’ between a house and a conservatory in Wallingford in September 2016. Firefighters ‘encouraged’ it to move using a garden rake, mainly to see it had become trapped. The goose then safely flew away.

During more recent rescues, a horse was pulled from a ditch after it was stuck in mud in October at a field in Cropredy, near Banbury.

Speaking at the time, the fire and rescue service’s manager Morgan Staveley said there was a reason horses were regularly caught up in accidents.

He said: “Horses are herd animals so if they get into trouble and get stuck like this, they tend to ‘give up’.

A specialist team from Kidlington was drafted in to help.