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Donation gives pets a better chance at surviving a fire

Polo Firefighter and EMT Mark Pellini (left) holds his German Shepard mix, Sophie, as she helps demonstrate a pet mask, donated by Invisible Fence of Quad Cities. Phil Vroman (right), owner of Invisible Fence, shows how the mask goes on. Photo by Zach Arbogast.
Polo Firefighter and EMT Mark Pellini (left) holds his German Shepard mix, Sophie, as she helps demonstrate a pet mask, donated by Invisible Fence of Quad Cities. Phil Vroman (right), owner of Invisible Fence, shows how the mask goes on. Photo by Zach Arbogast.

Polo pets can breath easier knowing the fire department has another tool for their safety.

The Polo Fire Department received four pet oxygen mask kits April 13, donated by Moline-based Invisible Fence of the Quad Cities.

The masks, specifically build to fit around the snouts of pets, come with a 22 millimeter hose barb adapter on the inlet side.

They can be plugged into both oxygen machines or bag valve mask resuscitators, at which point they deliver oxygen to pets that have suffered from smoke inhalation in the case of a fire.

Dual vents on the sides allow unrestricted inhalation and exhalation.

Each kit contains small, medium, and large masks, along with a chart of oxygen flow rates per animal size.

Mark Pellini, Polo Firefighter and EMT, said the kits are another valuable tool at the station’s disposal.

They’re another tool in our toolbox to assist us in the efforts of rescuing a pet,” said Pellini. “When we come across any pet suffering from smoke inhalation, we now have a way of getting them aid before they get to a vet.”

Keeley Meyer, probationary firefighter and veterinary technician at Polo Animal Hospital, learned about Project Breathe a week prior, and took initiative in requesting a mask for each fire engine.

“Animals are kind of my thing; they’re like my babies,” said Meyer. “I’d be devastated if something happened to them in a fire, and I’d be happy if I knew my local fire department had something that could help.”

Aside from the raw function of the masks, Meyer said having the kits adds a layer of reassurance to the public that their pets will be in good hands, and that they don’t need to try and launch personal rescues.

“When animals get scared, they tend to hide, and we don’t want the owners running back in after them,” said Meyer. “That’s what we’re here for, to get them out.”

The donations come from Invisible Fence’s “Project Breathe” initiation, which seeks the ambition of getting kits in fire stations throughout the U.S. and Canada.

The project started in 2012, but has picked up significantly within the last year, having donated more than 20,000 kits.

A press release from Invisible Fence states that, although an official statistic is not kept by the U.S. Fire Administration, it is estimated that 40,000 to 150,000 pets die each year in fires — mostly because of smoke inhalation.

The release goes on to say that more than 180 cases have been reported of pet lives being saved through the masks.

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