Invisible Fence representative Mark Lundgren, left, visited the Slingerlands Fire Department to donate the pet oxygen masks, which Chief Craig Sleurs, right, received on behalf of his colleagues. Provided photo
SLINGERLANDS — The Slingerlands Fire Department feels better equipped to not only rescue people from local fires but pet animals too.
It originally received a set of three pet oxygen masks at its monthly meeting in late January from Invisible Fence, a national organization that has donated 25,170 pet oxygen masks as part of its Project Breathe program to fire departments and first responders in the U.S. and Canada so far. An Invisible Fence representative visited the fire department to deliver the masks, after the latter applied for them last November.
“The pet oxygen mask is designed mainly for a snout of a dog and you can put it on it to give it oxygen,” said Michael Brodeur, the department’s commissioner. “If they’re not breathing, you can attach the bag-valve-mask or BVM and ventilate artificially. We would use them in the event of fires and while searching for people, we sometimes come across their pet animals. For example, we may bring the dog out to the front lawn and use the mask and first aid kit to tend to it.”
According to Invisible Fence’s website, 40,000 to 150,000 pets die annually in fires, mostly due to smoke inhalation and many emergency services lack animal-oriented masks and equipment.
Brodeur said this was the first time the Slingerlands Fire Department has received pet oxygen masks. “They’re not the standard piece of emergency equipment on first aid kits on fire trucks and I don’t know if other local fire departments have them,” he said. “But our thought process was always, ‘What if?’ We carry lots of equipment that may not often be used but we want to be safe.”
He added his fire department has not used the masks yet but encountering pets in local fires sometimes happens. “We hope we never have to use them but it’s good that it’s in our apparatus now and our members have been trained to use them,” he said. “We are very thankful and this gives us the ability to provide for our residents and also their pets.”
For more information, visit www.invisiblefence.com/why-invisible-fence/project-breathe.