Donations fund safety devices for pets

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 14, 2008

FRANKLIN—Now pets as well as their owners can breathe a little easier — in the event of an emergency.

Initiated by a local animal-lover who wished to remain anonymous, a special project was undertaken that provided the city emergency department, as well as each one in the county, with two sets of oxygen masks specifically designed for pets.

The idea came after news out of Currituck County, N.C., highlighted a similar project.

&uot;There had been some interest here as well,&uot; said Franklin Fire Chief Vince Holt.

Included in each set is a small, a medium and a large mask, and a training video.

The anonymous donor bought several sets out of pocket, and also solicited the help of Capt. Terry Bolton of Franklin Fire & Rescue, also a pet-lover and in charge of rescue with Boykins Fire & Rescue.

Bolton served as coordinator among the county departments, gathering support where she could for the project.

In as little as a few days, businesses and individuals had donated enough money, $85 per set, to purchase two sets for each Boykins Fire and Rescue, Branchville Volunteer Fire, Capron Fire and Rescue, Courtland Fire, Courtland Rescue, Drewryville Fire, Newsoms Fire, Ivor Fire, Ivor Rescue, Sedley Fire, Hunterdale Fire and Franklin Fire and Rescue.

&uot;That’s one thing about this community,&uot; said Lt. Chris Turner of Hunterdale Volunteer Fire Department. &uot;Everyone always works together.&uot;

He said that although typically, rescue is dispatched with fire in times of emergencies, they would probably keep a set of the masks on the first run engine and a set on the medic to ensure the equipment will arrive on the scene.

He said he recalled going to a vehicle accident where a couple of dogs were traveling in the car with the owners.

&uot;The dogs weren’t hurt,&uot; he said. &uot;But that is just another example of how they may be used.&uot;

Holt said that the masks are primarily for administering oxygen from a medical oxygen cylinder.

&uot;But they are set up to convert into a bag valve mask if you wanted to administer regular breathing air,&uot; he explained.

He said unlike masks designed for humans, the pet oxygen apparatus has rubber seals that fit snugly around the pet’s snout, which allows the airflow to be concentrated at the nasal area.

&uot;I’ve been in fire services for more than 30 years, and I can count the times we’ve needed them,&uot; Holt said.