CUBA CITY–Cuba City fire chief Steve Tranel said he’s seen a few instances where the fire department could have used oxygen masks to help resuscitate animals that were rescued from house fires. With a donation from Invisible Fence of Dubuque, the fire department will now be equipped to assist animals suffering from smoke inhalation.
Five years ago, Invisible Fence Brand, an electronic pet containment company, started the Project Breathe program with the goal of equipping every fire station in America and Canada with pet oxygen masks. These masks allow firefighters and EMS staff to give oxygen to pets who are suffering from smoke inhalation when they are rescued from fires and often save pets’ lives.
“They came up with a program to equip fire departments with three different sized masks,” Mike Hafeman, owner of Invisible Fence of Dubuque, said.
Hafeman has partnered with Dr. Dan Teasdale, owner of Teasdale Veterinary Clinic in Galena, to demonstrate the use of the pet masks. The duo demonstrated the pet masks on Hafeman’s dog, Ralph.
“The facial structure of a dog or a cat is a little different than a human,” Teasdale said. “When it comes to smoke inhalation, a little bit of oxygen is all it takes to get an animal on fluids and to the vet.”
The pet masks plug in the same way as oxygen masks for humans. Depending on the size of the animal, the oxygen levels needed could vary. Teasdale recommended 1-2 pounds of oxygen for a cat or small dog, 2-3 pounds for a medium-sized dog and 3-4 pounds for a large dog. The animal can’t have too much oxygen. Teasdale also explained approaching the dog in a non-threatening manner. A dog that is aggressive likely doesn’t need oxygen.
“This technology may sound mundane, but if we can show folks we care, and God forbid we save one life, this all makes perfect sense,” Teasdale said.
Invisible Fence Brand has donated a total of more than 12,400 pet oxygen masks to fire stations all over the U.S. and Canada throughout the life of the program. More than 150 pets have been saved by the donated masks, including 33 dogs saved over a 24 hour period by Metro Fire in Sacramento County, Calif., in January.
“When a family suffers the tragedy of a fire, lives are turned upside down,” said Ed Hoyt, Director of Invisible Fence® Brand. “Pets are valued family members, so we want families to know that their pet can be cared for if tragedy strikes. We realize that humans are the first-priority, but in many cases, pets can be saved if firefighters have the right equipment. Project Breathe is simply a way of giving firefighters the tools necessary to save pets’ lives.”