Newly received pet oxygen masks can mean the difference between life or death

CORNING, N.Y. (18 NEWS) - Thousands of pets die each year in fires, and many emergency responders lack the equipment to save them.

Oxygen masks are designed for the human face which leaves many animals without a fighting chance, but locals won't have to worry about that much longer. 

Anywhere from 40,000 to 150,000 pets die annually due to fires according to Invisible Fence. The range is so wide because the U.S. Fire Administration doesn't keep an official statistic, but it's mostly due to smoke inhalation.

To help curb that number, Invisible Fence created the Project Breath initiative - a donation program to give pet oxygen mask kits to emergency medical services agencies.

Invisible Fence of the Southern Tier presented eight of the kits to American Medical Response in Corning.

"This makes a big difference for anyone who's involved in a tragic house fire," LaShay Harris, public information officer at AMR Corning, said. "They've already lost all of their things and belongings. Now, they have to deal with that tragedy. This helps us save those animals and hopefully prevent deaths of those animals."

AMR says human masks were the former go-to but weren't always effective because of the difference in face shape.

The new masks deliver 100 percent oxygen to dogs, cats, or any other pets. Each kit, which will be placed in all eight of AMR's emergency vehicles, comes with a leash, oxygen tube, and three masks available in sizes large, medium, and small.

Bigger animals will obviously need the larger masks, and all a paramedic has to do is slide it over his or her snout.

Professionals say the animals will not fight against it because they'll most likely be lifeless and starving for oxygen.

"In the last 10 years, I think around 150 or so dogs have been saved (across the nation) as a result of the masks Project Breath has been able to put on EMTs, rigs, and first-responders," Mark Koehler, pet management consultant at Invisible Fence, said.

Invisible Fence also delivered kits to fire departments in Hornell and Groton which means more nearby animals have a higher chance of surviving a fire. 


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