A rat who likes dog biscuits, model mutts and a van full of chickens?! Weird Animal Callouts are all in a day's work for an AA Patrolman.
In 2014, rescuing a distressed pup or a tetchy tabby became as much a part of the job description for an AA Patrolman as did salvaging a worn-out engine. For among the hundreds of traditional calls received by the AA Rescue Centre last year, Patrols were often faced with problems of the furry kind.
Scooping a kitten out from under a car’s hood, discovering half-eaten pipes courtesy of a ravenous rat, and battling a canine and central locking button were all in a day’s work over the last 12 months.
Among the more bizarre incidents logged by AA Patrol chiefs in 2014 was the driver who made a frantic call to rescue agents, worried he would not receive his delivery of 30 puppies due to a damaged motor. Another humdinger was the female caller who broke down while carting her pups to a dog show in Wicklow, distraught that her dogs might not make it in time to scoop the coveted prize.
Topping the list, however, is the Patrol who came to the rescue of a disgruntled driver and his 20 chickens, stuffed in the back of a broken-down van, all late for their appearance at a Poultry Fair two miles away.
However, it’s not just failing engines or punctured tyres that prompted drivers to call for help – mischievous mutts played a starring role, too. Many the unattended mongrel and pedigree pounced on the central lock button during 2014 trapping themselves, and on more serious occasions an unsuspecting child, inside.
“When you’ve got a lively dog locked in the cabin it can be a tricky one,” admits AA Patrol of the Year, Lar Byrne. “To them it’s a game; they’ll swipe and slobber all over the rod we use to unlock the doors. Usually, however, a few tasty doggy treats dropped through the window works magic.” But despite canines featuring in a massive 350 call-outs last year, other animals got a slice of the action, too.
More than 40 incidents involved other furry friends, with rodents providing plenty of headaches for Irish motorists. Chewing through metal pipes, tucking into some dog nuts while hidden in a car’s boot, and claiming squatter’s rights of a member’s van worth €65K were just some of the cases logged by Patrol chiefs last year.
Last September Hamish the hardy hamster survived the long journey from Belfast to Dublin behind the dash of the family car, having escaped his cage with a little help from dogs Whacker and Lucy.
After three nights of nocturnal peek-a-boo, it was time to call the AA. To the relief of all, the tools stayed in the van and a trail of nuts eventually did the trick.
And although regarded as aloof explorers, cats trailed behind their competitors causing just three incidents in 2014. Clearly aspiring to great heights, one tiny kitten caused a stir when she became stuck in the suspension of a jeep. She was quickly freed upon being doused in grease, before scampering off.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for AA Patrols though, with many on the receiving end of some rather unusual compensatory offers – namely one motorist, so happy with the service received, that he immediately produced a live chicken as a tip! As they say, if it ain’t chickens, it’s feathers. (We’re not even sorry.)