Animal lifesaver

Donation helps four-legged fire victims 

A donation from the Vermont Veterinary Medical Association could help the West Pawlet Fire Department save some four-legged lives.

Tom Best, a lieutenant with the department, said the association approached the fire company earlier in the year and asked if it was interested in receiving the equipment. With the death of a dog at a Castleton fire just a few weeks ago, Best said, he is happy to have a life-saving device like this one, especially since he is a dog owner himself.

With more than 74 percent of households having more than one pet, Best said, he is pleased to have the new equipment in the trucks.

“Fires are terrible things. It’s a good feeling to know you can help; anything additional we can do at a fire is great,” Best said. 

The equipment consists of three sizes of masks, each with a rubberized ring at the open end. The sizes vary for different-sized animals, Best said, from large dog, medium dog and cat-sized.

Best said the ring helps hold the mask in place, something needed when the potential victim doesn’t have opposable thumbs.

The masks are designed to fit over the end of an animal’s muzzle and provide a constant flow of oxygen. The ring also helps to ensure the animal gets all of that oxygen. Best said the masks hook up to a standard oxygen bottle the way a mask for a person would and come with a band to go around the head to hold them in place.

 According to the association, more than 40,000 pets die each year from smoke inhalation from house fires.

“He’s a family member; I’d hate to lose him,” Best said indicating Endy, his Labrador retriever, as the dog sat patiently waiting. 




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