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According to Bark 10-4, a national campaign to outfit fire departments with pet oxygen masks, 40,000 pets each year die of smoke asphyxiation, and more than 500,000 pets each year are affected by fires.

Learning this, animal lover Marian Jordan, a resident of the Lake Tahoe community of Kings Beach, asked Fire Chief Duane Whitelaw what it would take to outfit their fire trucks with pet-sized oxygen masks.

It’s something we have talked about in the district, but when Marian decided to talk to Chief Whitelaw, we made it happen, said Dave Zaski, NTFPD public information officer.

The additional equipment would provide the district’s 20,000-plus residents emergency aid for their pets. They cost about $70, Jordan said.

Whitelaw organized a pilot program, through which Jordan donated the masks at the fire district’s Tahoe City and Kings Beach stations. If the added equipment functions well, Jordan said she plans to help outfit all of the six fire stations within the district.

Zaski said many times in the past the fire district has been forced to adjust adult oxygen masks to fit pets.
Now they fit perfectly, Zaski said. It gives us the opportunity to resuscitate dogs and cats if they’re in a smoke filled environment.

For many people, our animals are like our children, and any equipment that saves their lives is important. Jordan said.

The lack of funding has made it impossible for most fire districts to acquire pet oxygen masks. In the nation’s current state of economic recovery, Armstrong said donations like Jordan’s become even more important.

People have just, generally, become more aware of helping pets and with that added awareness firefighters can have better tools to do their job, she said.

[LINK: Sierra Sun]