Fire helmet? Check. Gloves? Check. Axe? Check. Pet oxygen masks? Check.
Increasingly, little oxygen masks for pets are becoming standard equipment for firefighters. Hoping to save cats, dogs and other pets caught in house fires, animal advocacy groups and pet-products suppliers are equipping departments all over the country with them.
The cone-shaped plastic masks, which come in three sizes and fit snugly on snouts, can resuscitate animals suffering from smoke inhalation. They can be used on dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, even birds.
“In the past, we used regular air masks like the firefighters use. In a pinch, it works,” said Norman Flanders, fire chief in this small Vermont town, which was given a set of pet masks by a local animal welfare group Tuesday. “But these masks are designed specifically to fit over the muzzle of a cat or a dog.”
This makes me happy. Several years ago, a friend of mine witnessed a devastating apartment fire. The humans got out fine, but the cat didn’t, and my friend sat crying into her coffee as she told us all about the firefighter who simply wouldn’t give up on the small cat, laying the little furry body out on the concrete and desperately trying to give it CPR with a child-sized mask. Apparently they had to pull the firefighter off the cat, he was just refusing to give up.
So this makes me happy. If you have the spare money, think about buying one of these kits for your local fire station. Everyone’ll appreciate it.