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Woman calls emergency services to report missing hamster

July 5, 2009 | 12:15 pm

Hamster What's not to love about a hamster?  They're pocket-sized, fuzzy and make great substitute racehorses.  But one Yorkshire, England, woman took her love of the small rodents a step too far by calling 999 (the British equivalent of 911) when her beloved pet escaped.

"It's my hamster. It's got out of its cage. It's gone into the bathroom and it's gone down into the floorboards," the woman can be heard telling an emergency-line operator in the recently released recording of her frantic 999 call. A short time later, she asks the operator, "Is there any chance anyone could come and help me get it out?"

South Yorkshire police released the recording to draw attention to what they say is a big problem: non-emergency calls placed to the emergency line.  (This is hardly just an English problem: A Florida man recently made headlines for his ludicrous 911 call complaining that Burger King was out of lemonade.)

"You never know when it could be you in desperate need of help and the last thing you need is to lose vital seconds or minutes because someone has called 999 to order a taxi," police superintendent Rob Odell said in a statement.  "We've worked hard to reduce our average response time to emergency calls to just eight seconds, but our service could be improved even further if people did not waste our time when phoning 999."  Odell estimates that eight out of 10 so-called emergency calls received by his department don't actually constitute emergencies.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: A teddy bear hamster (not the one about whom the 999 call was placed).  Credit: Los Angeles Times

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