Does Your Local Fire Department Have Oxygen Masks for Pets?

Analysis by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

Story at-a-glance -

  • Every year, about 500,000 pets are affected by residential fires, and it’s estimated that 40,000 die as a result, mostly from smoke inhalation
  • In the moments after rescue, access to oxygen can mean the difference between life and death, but many fire departments aren’t equipped to administer oxygen to animals
  • Project Breathe has donated 23,500 pet oxygen masks throughout the U.S. and Canada, which they say have saved at least 190 pets from fire and smoke inhalation
  • If you want to get involved, contact your local fire department to find out if they have oxygen masks for pets and, if not, if they’d like them
  • If you find out your local fire department doesn’t have pet oxygen masks, you can start a fundraising effort or they can contact Project Breathe and request for a kit to be donated free of charge

Every year, about 500,000 pets are affected by residential fires, and it’s estimated that 40,000 die as a result, mostly from smoke inhalation.1 In the moments after rescue, access to oxygen can mean the difference between life and death, but many fire departments aren’t equipped to administer oxygen to animals.

"Oxygen is the best drug you can give to anybody that's having any sort of breathing problems,” Keith Krestan, Lisle-Woodridge, Illinois Fire District Chief, told the Daily Herald.2 While some firefighters will use human oxygen masks on pets, the shape and size is not ideal for animals, which is why pet oxygen masks can be lifesaving.

The Lisle-Woodridge Fire District is among those who have recently received their own set of oxygen masks for pets, courtesy of Invisible Fence’s Project Breathe. The program aims to provide pet oxygen mask kits to every fire department and other first responders across the U.S. and Canada.

Pet Oxygen Masks Have Saved Hundreds of Pets

Since the program began, Invisible Fence has donated 23,500 masks throughout the U.S. and Canada, which they say have saved at least 190 pets from fire and smoke inhalation. Still, they note, “In most states, emergency responders lack the equipment to resuscitate and save pets.”3 If you want to get involved, contact your local fire department to find out if they have oxygen masks for pets.

If not, ask a member of the fire department staff to fill out this form to request a donation. Invisible Fence will donate one kit per station, and each kit includes a small, medium and large mask, each of which is reusable and has the potential to save many lives. Pet oxygen masks can be used for both dogs and cats, as well as smaller species like guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets, birds and even gerbils. They’re effective on conscious animals as well as those who may have lost consciousness.

Cen-Tex Kennel Club of Central Texas Raising Money for Pet Oxygen Masks

In some cases, local communities get involved in fundraising efforts to provide pet oxygen masks to their fire department. The Cen-Tex Kennel Club of Central Texas, for instance, raised $1,500 in November 2018, which allowed them to purchase 17 pet oxygen mask kits that they donated to fire departments across the state.4

The project began after Jeanie Davis, the club’s secretary, lost pets in a house fire. Only one of her dogs, Jasmine, survived after she received oxygen from a human mask, which was difficult to use and limited airflow due to its shape.

“The first responders helped me in the fire and helped Jasmine recover,” Davis said in a news release. “We hope donating these masks will help make firefighters’ jobs easier and help more pets, like Jasmine, survive.”5 If you’d like to start a fundraising project in your community, first contact your local fire department to find out if they have pet oxygen masks, need them and want them.

Some fire departments may not have heard of such masks, so be sure to speak with a decision maker in the department, such as the fire chief battalion chief or training officers about whether they’d like more information.

When seeking participants to the project, you may want to speak with local pet businesses, including veterinarians, pet food stores, groomers and boarding facilities, who can even donate a kit in their business name. Kits vary in price but can generally be found for under $100 each.

Advertisement
Get ​34% Off on a Canine Hormone Support 3-PackGet ​34% Off on a Canine Hormone Support 3-Pack

Are You and Your Pet Prepared for a Fire?

Equipping fire departments with pet oxygen masks is a simple way to save the lives of pets affected by fires, but you can also make a difference by getting prepared ahead of time. No one expects a fire to happen, and when it does you may have only minutes to get out. This is when having a pet-friendly fire escape plan is crucial.

Keep your dog’s leashes and your cat’s carrier in an easy to access spot, near an exit door. At the first hint of a fire, get your dog leashed and your cat in his carrier and get out. It’s a good idea to get to know your pet’s favorite hiding spots ahead of time, as he’s likely to retreat there at the smell of smoke or sound of a fire alarm.

If you can’t locate your pet before you evacuate, leave the door open and call to your pet loudly. Hopefully, he’ll come to you when you call, but if he doesn’t, be persistent and keep trying. For caged pets, have a plan in place for who will be responsible for grabbing the cage on the way out.

If a fire starts when you’re not home, having a pet alert window cling, which lets firefighters know the number and type of pets inside, will alert them to look for your pets. You may also want to sign up for a monitored smoke detection service, so firefighters will be called if your smoke alarm goes off, even if you’re not home.

Hopefully you’ll never have to use your fire escape plan or find yourself in a situation hoping your fire department is equipped with pet oxygen masks, but if you do, this little bit of preparation can save your pet’s life. And remember, if you find out your local fire department doesn’t have pet oxygen masks, they can contact Project Breathe and request for a kit to be donated free of charge.

Click Here and be the first to comment on this article
Post your comment