Protecting Pets with Oxygen Mask Donations
When a fire strikes a home, smoke inhalation is one of the most lethal factors affecting victims. Pets are especially susceptible to this threat due to their small airways and limited lung capacity. Unfortunately, oxygen masks designed for humans are often too wide and too shallow to properly fit over an animal’s snout, which means oxygen cannot be administered efficiently. As a result, many pets perish before they have a chance to receive proper veterinary care.
In an effort to protect pets and the people who care about them, Canine Company® has been equipping fire departments and EMS responders across the Northeast United States with specially designed pet oxygen masks. Since 2008, we have donated more than 400 kits from Maine to New Jersey as part of Invisible Fence®Brand’s Project Breathe™ initiative. “We hope that by donating pet oxygen mask kits we can contribute to saving more pets and hopefully protect pet owners that may risk their own life to save a pet in a fire,” said Audrey Lindner, Community Outreach Supervisor at Canine Company.
Invisible Fence® Brand first came up with the idea for Project Breathe™ in 2007 upon learning of estimates that 40,000 to 150,000 pets die in fires each year, with most succumbing to smoke inhalation. Without proper equipment, first responders have had limited abilities to administer care, forcing them to improvise in their rescue efforts. Firefighter Shannon Blackmer, of the Williamsville Fire Engine Company (WFEC) in Rogers, CT, recalls a time when her EMS squad used a pediatric non-rebreather to deliver oxygen to an animal in critical condition.
“The cat survived and the bystanders were impressed that we went the extra mile to take care of a beloved house pet,” she wrote to Canine Company in her request for an oxygen mask kit. “Since we have many cats and dogs in our close-knit community, as well as a working horse farm, we feel the need to better protect them whenever possible,” Blackmer added, noting that the specially designed devices could significantly improve their rescue success rate.
In some towns, the need for pet oxygen masks has been recognized, but departments have been unable to secure funding to purchase the kits. As an organization focused on the health, safety, and well-being of pets, Canine Company is dedicated to raising awareness of pet oxygen masks and supplying kits to departments in need. Each pet oxygen mask kit contains three reusable masks appropriately sized for small, medium, and large animals, such as cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, goats, and calves. After receiving a request, Canine Company will arrange to send a representative to visit the station, meet the volunteers and demonstrate how to use the kits.
When possible, the donation can even be used as a learning opportunity for the community. participants will learn animal CPR, basic first aid, and how to prepare for their pets in case of a catastrophe.
“When tragedy strikes, pets provide much needed comfort, affection, and companionship to the families that love them. In the event of a fire, items can be replaced but lives cannot,” states Audrey Lindner of Canine Company. “By equipping first responders with pet oxygen masks, we hope to reduce the number of preventable deaths, especially in a time when pets are needed the most.”
Through Invisible Fence® Brand’s Project Breathe™ initiative, over 10,000 pet oxygen kits have been donated across the United States and Canada.