Firefighter Brody Bishop with his friend one year old Griz, who is trying on the new breathing apparatus on March 17, that will save the lives of pets in smoke inhalation cases.

Pet oxygen kits donated for smoke inhalation

Survival rate will increase after early oxygen intervention

Prince Rupert pet owners will be able to breath a sigh of relief with the donation of three pet oxygen masks to the Prince Rupert Fire Department. The donation was made possible by Pacific Coast Veterinary Clinic, who jointly saw the need for early intervention when pets experience smoke inhalation in fires.

“In emergency situations time is of the essence. If respiratory support by first responders is administered early, it can make a difference with the patients positive recovery,” Chad Cooper, deputy fire chief said.

“The majority of the time occupants are able to escape a house fire via smoke alarms, but pets become frightened and hide inside the structure then succumb to smoke inhalation,” Cooper said, “Firefighters are trained to make entry and search for pets. Once they are found they are brought outside where first aid can be started.”

With the new kits, which will be kept in the front line fire engine, there will be a greater survival rate Cooper said. Prior to the pet masks arriving in Prince Rupert the fire crews would use masks designed for humans, but the treatment was not efficient due to the size and fit of the masks.

The oxygen mask kits which come in different sizes for various pets cost around $180 each. The mask kits in Prince Rupert will fit small caged animals such as ferrets, chinchillas, birds, rats and rabbits. The medium mask will fit cats and small dogs, with the large mask fitting dogs over or 25 kilograms.

If smoke inhalation occurs airways will close up, James Kennedy practice manager of Pacific Coast Veterinary Clinic said.

Once pets are brought into the hospital it is extremely important to secure an airway to start medical assistance. The new pet masks will allow oxygen much earlier at the scene and make treatment more successful.

“Early intervention with oxygen therapy is required on scene to dissipate the carbon monoxide poisoning from the effects of smoke.

“This will increase the chance of pet survival and recovery,” Kennedy said.

“Having an oxygen device for pets isn’t just good for a fire hall, it’s also a morale booster for the community and first responders. It’s really hard for us when we see an animal that’s suffering, compromised or even deceased,” Cooper said, “We have one more tool in our kit to help bring them back, and make the day a little less awful for someone who is already suffering some kind of loss.”

“Home and residential fires are traumatic. If we can save the much loved family pet it will bring relief to a traumatic event. Possessions are replaceable, loved ones are not,” Cooper said.

K-J Millar | Journalist
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Brody Bishop fire fighter, Cpt. Marvin Kristoff, Tim Dopko fire fighter, James Kerr practice manager of the Pacific North Coast veterinary clinic, Jasmin Miller from the P.N.C.V.C clinic, front row Ashley Sullivan, Assistant Deputy Fire Chief Chad Cooper, and Ryan Fuzzi fire fighter on March 17 meet for the presentation of the breathing apparatus to save the lives of furry family members who suffer from smoke inhalation. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

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