Nacogdoches firefighters receive pet oxygen masks

By Donna McCollum - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The potential of an injury to pets in car wrecks is increasing. More people are traveling with their animals. Also in any house fire, the possibility of injury to the family pet is always high. Now, Nacogdoches firefighters have a better way of treating animals in such emergencies.

A willing shepherd helps demonstrate their newest tool to save an animal's life, pet oxygen masks. "It goes in like this. The other end would hook in to our oxygen bottle and you take the dog and you put it over her face, just like that," demonstrated Jason Scorsonelli, a Nacogdoches firefighter. "And you make sure you cover the corners of her mouth. That way she breathes everything in."

The masks are specifically designed to fit a dog or cat's muzzle. No longer will fire fighters need to improvise with oxygen masks designed for humans.

"In the past we never had the means or the tools to take care of them, but now we'll be able to deliver oxygen, do basic first aid, just as we would with a human being," Deputy Chief Frankie Hamby said.

The Citizens Police Academy alumni collected $6,000 in just two months to buy the masks. The have animal loving donors to thank. "They immediately went to the billfold," chuckled Bill Clark, fundraiser volunteer.

Nacogdoches veterinarian Dr Ronald Lott sees everyday how much pets mean to their owners. "It could be that proverbial, final straw that pushes them over the edge a little bit if they lose their pets, along with everything else," Lott commented.

Lott recognizes there's a significant and growing need to train civil servants first aid and CPR for pets. They're the ones likely to encounter sick or injured pets. He provided training on how to use the pet oxygen masks and gave tips on treating injured animals during an emergency.

"I think it's a good idea. I mean, it's not just saving the family, it's also saving the family pet," Jamie Shelton, animal shelter supervisor said.

Pet owners are encouraged to fasten their animals in a pet seat belt or a secured pet carrier when in a vehicle. At home, provide an enclosed yard for them stay in, rather than keeping them indoors unsupervised.

Fortunately, animals have an amazing ability to tolerate trauma. Sometimes all it takes to bounce back is a breath of fresh air.

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