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Examiner
  • Donated oxygen masks save dogs' lives

  • When the Independence Fire Department received a donation of pet oxygen masks back in November, the plan was to demonstrate the masks to the City Council using a stuffed animal.



    But at a residential fire on Jan. 4 – just 10 days before the scheduled  demonstration – the department used the masks to save the lives of two dogs.

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  • When the Independence Fire Department received a donation of pet oxygen masks back in November, the plan was to demonstrate the masks to the City Council using a stuffed animal.
    But at a residential fire on Jan. 4 – just 10 days before the scheduled  demonstration – the department used the masks to save the lives of two dogs.
    The fire occurred at about 11:20 a.m. Jan. 4 in the 11000 block of 35th Street. When firefighters broke down the home’s front door, two or three large dogs immediately ran out, said Assistant Fire Chief Joe Lay, who also was on scene at the fire.
    As firefighters progressed through the house, more dogs were found already dead. The Fire Department used the masks, donated by the Kansas City Veterinary Medical Association, on five small dogs that were unresponsive and barely breathing.
    Two of them survived, thanks to the masks, Lay said.
    “I would like to challenge (all Kansas City Veterinary Medical Association board members) to make sure their local fire stations have pet oxygen masks, and if they don’t, let’s see if we can provide them with one,” wrote outgoing Kansas City Veterinary Medical Association president Dr. Mary Hughes in the association’s November/December 2012 newsletter.
    Each of the Independence department’s 10 pumpers now includes a pet oxygen kit with three masks of different sizes in each kit. The masks are effective, Lay said, because human oxygen masks don’t fit properly over an animal’s snout, so it just blows oxygen past them.
    The masks are disinfected after use and are ready for their next use. Lay didn’t have exact figures, but he estimated that the Independence Fire Department responds to roughly seven fires a year in which the oxygen masks would come in handy.
    “Our job is to save lives and property,” Lay said. “Of course, our number one job is to save human lives, but if we can save pet lives, we will use personnel and equipment to take care of that animal, if we have enough personnel on the scene to do that.”
    The Fire Department, Lay said, hopes the new oxygen masks make a positive impact in the city, knowing that Independence is a pet-friendly community.
    “There are a lot of animal lovers in this city, including staff on the Independence Fire Department,” he said. “Every chance that we have to save someone’s pet, which is a member of their family, we need to take the opportunity to do that.”  
     

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