ANTWERP – Last week, Antwerp first responders became some of the best-equipped in the nation to save a pet’s life. That’s because Invisible Fence Brand of NW Ohio donated a pet oxygen mask kit to the Antwerp EMS Department.
This donation is just a small part of Invisible Fence Brand’s Project BreatheT, which was established with the goal of equipping first responders in America and Canada with pet oxygen masks. These masks allow them to give oxygen to pets who are suffering from smoke inhalation when they are rescued from fires and they often save pets’ lives.
Antwerp EMS coordinator Randy Shaffer said that the department received enough equipment to stock one ambulance with more equipment coming for a second squad.
Invisible Fence Brand has donated a total of more than 10,000 pet oxygen masks all over the U.S. and Canada throughout the life of the program. A reported 90+ pets have been saved by the donated masks so far, including a cat saved on Jan. 1 in Tecumseh, Ontario.
“When a family suffers the tragedy of a fire, lives are turned upside down,” said Albert Lee, director of Invisible Fence Brand. “Pets are valued family members, so we want families to know that their pet can be cared for if tragedy strikes.”
“We realize that humans are the first-priority, but in many cases, pets can be saved if first responders have the right equipment,” said Lee. “Project Breathe is simply a way of giving them the tools necessary to save pets’ lives.”
Antwerp is now joining the ranks of cities like Denver, Cleveland and Memphis, who have all received donated pet oxygen masks from Project BreatheT.
“Thank God they had the masks. They (the dogs) are just like family. I don’t know what I’d do without them. Things can be replaced. Lives can’t, whether they’re animals or people,” said a pet owner whose dogs were recently rescued using donated masks.
Although the number of pets that die in fires in not an official statistic kept by the U.S. Fire Administration, industry web sites and sources have cited an estimated 40,000 to 150,000 pets die in fires each year, most succumbing to smoke inhalation. In most states, emergency responders are unequipped to deal with the crisis.
“These masks truly are blessings for Antwerp,” said Shaffer. “We’ve seen residents run back into burning homes to save a pet. It’s understandable, but extremely dangerous. These masks will give residents comfort in knowing that we can save their pets if they are suffering from smoke inhalation.”
Shaffer added that the Antwerp area has had several animal deaths from fire in the past few years. The oxygen mask kits “fill a need and hopefully will prevent more pets from dying,” he said.
The company has set up a website, www.invisiblefence.com/O2, where people or companies can support the effort.