Florence Fire Dept. has kit for resuscitating pets

Florence Fire Chief Mark Sla­ter inventories the various items in the animal rescue kit donated to the department. Not only could these kits save a small animal’s life, but one study indicated people in a community are more confident that pets have a better chance of living through a fire when responders are equipped with the masks.Thanks to the help of Donna Rosiere of Florence, the local fire department now has a better chance of saving animals during a fire with the addition of a kit containing oxygen masks for cats and dogs.

Florence Fire Chief Mark Slater said a friend of Rosiere in Marion was a member of an organization called, “Animal Angels Rescue Foundation,” in Colorado Springs, Colo., and she had one kit left.

Rosiere called and asked if the fire department would want a kit for resuscitating family pets, pri­­marily cats and dogs in the event the animals were trapped inside a burning structure.

“I didn’t know anything about these lifesaving kits for animals,” Slater said. “I was thinking it was an oxygen mask for people but used on pets.”

When he realized the oxygen masks were for smaller animals, he and the other firefighters welcomed the kit with open arms.

It’s about life

“As firefighters, we are here to save lives and property, regardless if that’s a human or an animal,” Slater said. “We don’t want to see anything (people or pets) lose their lives.”

Fortunately, Slater hasn’t had to use the kit, which has a carrying case marked: “Bark Saves Lives.”

In the kit is one large mask, one medium mask and one smaller mask for felines.

“The mask fits right over a dog’s snout or a cat’s face,” Slater said. “The masks are pliable.”

The kit also came with a line that can be hooked to an oxygen tank to help the animal breathe.

“It also came with directions on the appropriate oxygen flow for each patient,” he said.

For a cat, the smallest mask requires one to two liters of oxygen. For small dogs, three to five liters are required and large dogs require five to seven liters, he said.

In addition to the masks are two leashes and a watering dish or food dish.

“Everything is packed in its own carrying case,” he said.

Near loss

Slater said a couple of years ago the kit could have been useful during a fire on West Second Street.

“We located four dogs (three miniature Schnauzers and one bull mastiff puppy)” he said. “Of course they were all scared at first, but we were able to get them out.”

Once out of the house, though, using the kits would have been helpful because the animals suffered from smoke inhalation.

“They managed to live, but the kit could have helped clear their lungs,” he said.

As far as Slater knows, the Florence Fire Department is the only one with the lifesaving kit for animals.

“We could possibly be called someday by another county fire department because they might need this, and we want to help,” Slater said.

Hillsboro Fire Chief Ben Steketee said recently he would like to have one of these kits, but it’s not something the department could request in its budget.

AARF disbands

Even though the organization that provided Florence with their kit has been discontinued, Slater said he and the department were grateful to receive this free kit as a gift.

“From what I understood, age was getting the best of the members and ours was the last kit the Marion member had,” he said.

The kit, according to other sources, could cost up to $250. If a fire department wants one, it would have to be paid for through donations. The U.S. Fire Administration doesn’t keep statistics on the number of pets that die in fires each year, but other sources have estimated the number to be between 40,000 to 150,000. Most deaths are the result of smoke inhalation.

Another statistic indicates 80 percent of pet owners will run back into their homes during a fire to rescue their pets.

Communities like Florence, which have animal rescue masks, can give people more confidence knowing that first responders will be equipped to save a cat or dog caught in a fire.

“The kit is carried on our first-out truck going to the scene,” Slater said. “It is with us all the time.”

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