By PAUL COWLEY
Family pets overcome by house fire smoke will have a better shot of pulling through thanks to a new mask.
Invisible Fence Brand donated seven pet oxygen masks to Red Deer Emergency Services on Tuesday as part of the Project Breathe campaign that has seen 10,000 mask kits donated to emergency responders across the U.S. and Canada.
Dozens of the mask kits, worth more than $100, have been donated to fire departments in Alberta.
“We have already outfitted Edmonton and Calgary completely with them and a number of smaller fire departments as well,” said Greg Deitz, who represents Invisible Fence Brand in southern Alberta.
Fire departments that have gotten wind of the donation campaign have also requested kits, including Cochrane recently.
“They recently had a fire where they had rescued a pet and, luckily, saved it. But they said it was quite a challenge for them to try to get oxygen to a stressed pet.
“Their mask didn’t fit and guys were trying to give it mouth to mouth.”
Masks come in three sizes to fit the biggest dogs as well as smaller pooches, as well as cats or other similar-sized critters. They are designed to be compatible with the tanks firefighters use.
While the U.S. Fire Administration doesn’t track the numbers of pets that die in fires, estimates put the number between 40,000 to 150,000 each year. About 10,000 North American pets have already been saved by the masks, which are designed to form a tight seal around pets’ muzzles or snouts.
Red Deer Emergency Services Capt. Doug Vesely said there have been a number of occasions in his career where the masks would have come in handy.
Since existing masks don’t fit pets, firefighters sometimes try to direct oxygen from a tube into the animal’s nose. Firefighters have tried a mouth-to-snout technique in some cases.