When there is a house fire, although rescuing people is top priority, firefighters often take the risk of bringing out pets too. After all, pets are an integral part of the family, and many people treat them as their own kids. Losing a pet in a fire can add to the trauma of a family already having to deal with the fallout of the damage caused by it.
Using Masks Meant for Humans to Revive Animals
While rescue personnel have been using oxygen masks meant for humans to resuscitate pets, since they do not fit well on the faces of the animals, they often do not work.
In fact, without special masks for animals, rescue personnel have often been forced to try out novel ways to revive animals that may have been affected by smoke inhalation or carbon monoxide poisoning.
For instance, there was the case of an innovative firefighter who created a makeshift oxygen mask by poking a hole into a Styrofoam cup and inserting the air hose into one end.
Some paramedics have tried placing the oxygen hose right next to the affected animal's snout. These attempts are generally not effective. Some rescuers have even resorted to 'mouth-to-snout' resuscitation.
The trouble about resuscitating animals, especially big ones like St. Bernards or Great Danes, which have inhaled large amounts of poisonous gases in a fire, is that unless they are given a large and concentrated dosage of oxygen, resuscitation efforts are generally not effective.
Using Special Masks for Resuscitating Pets
However, pets now have higher chances of recovering from the effects of being caught in a fire. A special kind of oxygen mask which has long been used by veterinary doctors to deliver gas anesthesia and oxygen to pet animals, has been incorporated by fire departments across the country.
This trend was triggered in Florida, when a dog's death due to smoke inhalation sparked off a drive to equip fire departments with special masks for pets.
Apart from their usual paraphernalia of fire helmets, axes, and gloves, firefighters carry these special oxygen masks with them. In the hope of saving dogs, cats, and other animals that get caught in fires that break out in homes.
The manufacturers of pet products as well as animal advocacy groups, local humane societies, the private sector, and other groups are donating money in order to purchase these masks, and are supplying fire departments across the country with them. Apart from fire departments, zoos and vets are also buying these masks in bulk.
Masks Available in Different Sizes
These cone-shaped masks, which are available in three sizes, can be fitted snugly onto the animals' snouts. They have been found to be very effective in resuscitating pets. Due to the various sizes that they come in, they can be used on different types and sizes of animals such as cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, and even birds.
They are equipped with a rubber ring which creates an effective seal around the animal's nose, thus allowing pure oxygen to be pumped into it. Also, since they are quite simple to use, rescuers do not need any particular training about the same.
The mask just has to be fixed over the snout of the animal, and they are hooked on to an oxygen tank, which forces pure oxygen into the animal. So, as long as the animal is breathing, these masks can be very effective.
When a fire breaks out, pets usually have a tendency of hiding in safe places, resulting in the owners losing precious time looking for them. Now, armed with these life-saving masks, firefighters are encouraging people to get out of their burning houses as fast as they can, and leave the rescuing of their pets to them.
Some such initiatives across the United States are the Wag'N O2 Fur Life Program, the Pets America Organization, Project Breathe by the brand Invisible Fence, the Emma Zen Foundation, and Project Paws Alive. These initiatives work to help provide firefighters with these masks to successfully resuscitate these animals.