Firefighters can now resuscitate pets

Pet supply store donates oxygen masks

By Mal Boright

Max, a 125-pound Bernese mountain dog, might someday benefit from his owner’s foresight. If not, it is almost certain that another pet will.

In the unlikely event Max is caught in a fire, the Williston Fire Department now has the equipment to him, thanks to Williston resident Katie Stevens and a donation from Pet Food Warehouse.

Stevens contacted the pet supply chain, which gave the department 10 oxygen masks, two each for five sizes for animals from hamsters to Max-sized dogs.

Williston Fire Chief Ken Morton is happy to have the masks.

“When someone comes to you with the offer of this kind of equipment, how can you say no?” he said. “Besides, I am also a pet lover.”

The idea of ensuring her local fire department had the oxygen masks occurred to Stevens when she was visiting her family outside Boston over Thanksgiving weekend. A fire had left pets dead from smoke inhalation. Media coverage pointed out that the deaths might have been prevented had masks been available to resuscitate the pets.

“When I returned here I called around to see if such masks might be available, and most places I called had never heard of them,” Stevens said.

She said that at first mention of the equipment some people laughed, but then said, “Hey, I have a dog. That is not a bad idea.”

Stevens finally found information about the masks and their availability on the Internet.

“I was all set to pay for them myself, but first I wanted to run the idea past the people at Pet Food Warehouse. They said they wanted to hear more and then they paid for them,” Stevens said.

Evan Wisell, Pet Food Warehouse marketing and advertising manager, said his company was happy to put up nearly $300 for the masks.

“At the time we didn’t know there was such equipment available,” Wissell said. He noted that a first-aid seminar for pets sponsored by the firm last year never mentioned the masks.

Morton said homeowners can make work easier for firefighters by listing their pets by name.

Any information that is communicated to us, whether it is a tot finder or a list of pets and their names is helpful,” Morton said.

Pet alert cards can by purchased at pet stores.