This week I learned that the fire service spent £3.5 million rescuing animals last year. I started reading the BBC article thinking how crazy people in the UK are – happy to eat a lot of animals whose welfare they’re almost completely uninterested in, and equally happy to call the emergency services when their parrots get stuck up the chimney.
But my grumpy cynicism evaporated when I got to this paragraph: ‘Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service were called out to remove a snail stuck halfway up a wall after being contacted by a distressed elderly lady.’
I suppose a lot of people would say this is outrageous, but you’ve got to admit that this old lady is much more selfless than the woman who went to A&E with a broken nail. And as the animal rescue specialist quoted in the article pointed out, ‘the actual problem, the snail, might seem ridiculous but it was that lady that they were going to help’.
I think it’s brilliant that she cared enough about a snail to call the fire brigade (even though I suspect the snail was just fine stuck on the wall). It’s easy to feel sympathy for a puppy or a kitten, so I always feel sorry for the less conventionally cute animals of the world.
Snails seem especially in need of protection – they have inquisitive little faces and they’re always going for dangerous adventures across wet pavements, braving the stompy feet of passers-by. I quite often spend my morning walk to the station throwing them back into flower beds, and I suppose I might need need help with this when I’m old and doddery.
And who’s to say that they’re less deserving of our help than any other animal? They’ve got their own short lives to lead and I’m sure they’re just as keen to hang on to them as any other creature. Although perhaps this now famous snail was really annoyed that he/she (both?) had to start at the bottom of the wall all over again.