A mass evacuation following the discovery of an unexploded Second World War bomb in Exeter three days ago has not just impacted on local residents, but also their pets.
Reports have been shared on social media of emergency services going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the safety of pets, and to even make sure they don’t go hungry and thirsty while their owners remain evacuated.
One person told how her father had been told by police and the RSPCA that as a result of the explosion, his windows and doors were smashed and his birds and parrot, as well as his Persian cat, are now missing.
Another person told how their cats have been at home during the evacuation period and how police fed them for her as she was unable to.
Police have confirmed two of its officers have also assisted owners by going into homes to remove pets, including two parrots, to reunite them with their anxious owners.
It has also been shared how a fish owner was concerned that if their fish tanks had exploded it would be too late to save their fish.
And a cat owner has spoken of how she did not get to her cats in time before being evacuated.
She said on a local community Facebook page: “We were so worried as they are very outdoorsy cats. They sleep in my neighbours shed because it has heating and only come home for cuddles and food.
“Luckily a friend went to the house last night and left some food outside for them, and there they were. Looking forward to getting home to them this morning.”
A 400m cordon was set up before the bomb – which was 1,000kg heavy, around 2.5m in length, and would have fallen from a Nazi bomber in 1942 – was detonated at about 6.10pm on Saturday.
On Sunday evening, Devon and Cornwall Police said that the cordon had been decreased to 100m and some people would be allowed home.
This afternoon, it was announced that no decision on when the reduced cordon will be lifted has been made yet. Protective fencing in place until it is safe for residents to return to their homes.
Advice issued to affected residents by police and Devon County Council on Friday stated they would need to leave their property by 9am on Saturday, February 27, due to the device found by builders in Glenthorne Road, near part of the University of Exeter campus.
Regarding advice about pets, the letter stated: “We hope this work will be completed by the end of the day on Saturday, but will be guided by the bomb disposal experts.”
Based on the advice provided, some residents left with their pets and others had to leave theirs at home. It is believed some dogs were offered kennels if needed.
A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesperson said: “Officers went above and beyond the call of duty and were able to help some evacuated residents by ensuring their pets were fed and watered.
“They were also able to assist in getting a number of animals from some properties to their owners, which included two African Grey parrots on Sunday evening.”
A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: “Our rescue teams were on standby during the weekend, ready for if they were needed by police to help animals and their owners.
“I understand that they have now been told by police that they will be letting people back to tend to their animals themselves.
“They will remain ready to provide assistance if requested by police.”
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A spokesperson for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said: “DSFRS teams worked hard this weekend as part of a multi-agency response to make safe an unexploded bomb dating from the second world war.
“A planned evacuation of 2,500 properties involved our specialist rescue advisors supported by crews from Danes Castle, Clyst St George, Middlemoor, Honiton, Exmouth, Cullompton, Ottery St Mary and USAR. These crews then continued to support and secure the 400m cordon whilst work at the incident site continued.
“We then worked with the police to help allow evacuated people back to their properties at the earliest opportunity.
“While supporting the multi-agency response to this incident members of the Urban Search and Rescue Team from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service were also able to provide food and welfare checks to a number of parrots and cats that were inside the cordon and reunite a dog with its owners.”
The aftermath of the bomb explosion is now being dealt with by Exeter City Council.
Residents who have been directly affected who are in need of support should call Exeter City Council on 01392 265000. Lines are open 9am until 5pm.