Santa Maria fire department now equipped to resuscitate animals

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Mar 2, 2013 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

Santa Maria Firefighter Chris Chavis has a soft spot for pets.

Raised in a family that loved its dogs, apartment life has him now attached to a pet cat named Diablo.

So it wasn’t hard for him to say “yes” when he was asked to coordinate the donation to the department of animal rescue oxygen masks by Invisible Fence West Coast and DogE911.

The specially designed masks allow emergency responders to give oxygen to injured pets using their own breathing apparatuses.

The donation is part of a national effort by Invisible Fence called Project Breathe, which is equipping fire stations across the country and Canada with the masks. So far, Project Breathe has donated more than 10,000 pet oxygen masks to fire stations throughout the country and in Canada, and 75 pets have been saved with the equipment.

“We have had occurrences in the past where, unfortunately, guys go into somebody’s house and pull out an animal, whether it is a small dog or a cat, that has been overcome by smoke,” Chavis said. “Definitely, it’s another interesting aspect of the fire service. So many people have animals, you want to help. They’re part of the family, and we want to help them as well.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association agrees with Chavis. Its statistics show that there are 70 million pet dogs and 74 million pet cats in the U.S.; 63 percent of pet owners consider their pets family members; 50 percent of homeowners have one or more pets; and 93 percent of pet owners would risk their life for their pet.

Genete Bowen, along with Greg Clore of Invisible Fence West Coast, arranged the donation to the Santa Maria Fire Department.

Along with donating the equipment, Bowen, a local animal emergency medical technician and veterinary technician, will be training firefighters and police officers later this month on animal emergency training, not only showing them how to utilize the equipment but also how to work with injured or traumatized animals. Bowen is founder of DogE911, an all pet emergency training business.

“An estimated 40,000 to 150,000 animals die each year in fires, most succumbing to smoke inhalation,” Bowen said, quoting U.S. Fire Administration figures. “That’s why these masks are so very important to have on your trucks.”

The masks will be available on each one of the Fire Department’s engines, which means the first responders at all local emergencies or disasters will be able to help all kinds of pets. The masks come in all sizes and can help animals from as small as rats to as large as horses, Bowen said.

“This is something new for us. We are trying to expand our services and part of our services is trying to touch the folks who have animals in their homes,” said Fire Chief Dan Orr. “We’re very blessed to have people in the community who care so deeply and are willing to donate this kind of equipment.

“It is something that will be used, certainly, and it will hopefully make a difference in somebody’s life.”

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