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Posted on Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

Local fire departments to get pet oxygen masks for rescuing cats and dogs

By Lisa Carolin

Related story: Ann Arbor fire aftermath: 'I'm so grateful' about dog rescue and resident safety

Last August, Saline firefighters and Huron Valley Ambulance paramedics rescued a cat from a fire and saved its life using special animal rescue equipment. On Feb. 5, the Washtenaw County office of Paul Davis Restoration & Remodeling will donate the same pet oxygen mask kits to the Washtenaw Area Mutual Aid Association for distribution to local fire departments.

Pet oxygen masks.jpg

Saline firefighters and paramedics use special animal rescue equipment to save a cat on the scene of a house fire in York Township last summer.

Photo courtesy of Saline Area Fire Department

The masks come in three different sizes for large, medium and small pets. They will be donated during every month in 2013 and distributed to local fire departments that don't already own them.

"These masks are specifically designed to fit over the muzzle of an animal and allow animals to receive pure oxygen after exposure to a fire and smoke inhalation," said Brian McCall, who owns the local Paul Davis Restoration office.

Saline Area Fire Chief Craig Hoeft has seen the masks in use.

"A couple of years ago, we had a house fire with several pets involved," said Hoeft. "We had HVA assist us, and they gave oxygen to the pets but didn't have masks specifically made for the pets. The human masks don't work as well."

Mobile veterinarian Dr. Katheryn VanKoevering donated masks for pets to the Saline Area Fire Deparment and trained firefighters on how to use them. Hoeft says the masks are contoured to the shape and size of cats' and dogs' faces.

"At a house fire last August in Saline, HVA paramedics saved a cat using a pet oxygen mask," said Hoeft. "The donation of these masks is a great thing."

The mask kits will be presented to HVA Feb. 5.



Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 8:46 p.m.

This is great news.

General ypsi

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 11:26 a.m.

If I'm correct on school demo with Ypsilanti Twp Fire about 2 years ago they had The oxygen masks for pets. Glad to see other depts following them


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 7:45 a.m.

This is wonderful and reassuring news. If (knock on head) a fire ever occurs I'll be glad to have oxygen masks for my cats. But I'd be saying, save my cats first. I'm not ashamed to be that crazy cat lazy. Thank you for all your good works! Thank you for thinking about our pets.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 9:25 p.m.

from one unapologetic crazy cat lady to another, amen my sister!!


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

I'd be throwing my dogs out the window or door just to make sure they are out with me as well. Yes, I would make sure everyone is out and safe. Knock on wood, never been in a house fire, but yet two furnaces that kind of made a mess when they died. Otherwise, keep up the great work.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 10:38 p.m.

@tdw. I appreciate your thoughtful post. When the kids were at home we had dogs, guinea pigs, canaries and fish. I do not argue with the need for pets in our culture. Your post reminded me of a conversation of more than 20 years ago with a divorced guy. He was fretting about getting back to his apartment and his two cats. I asked him "Why do you need two cats?" and he replied "Without them I would die." Talk about a shocking reply . . .


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 11:32 a.m.

Piney...I agree.But as I said it's people first pets second.And It would be absurd for a responder to risk their life for a pet, more like a " grab as you go " thing.But screw the cats.Grab the dog


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 2:46 a.m.

@tdw. I think we are agreed that pets have an important and rightful place in the life of some people. That being said, my disagreement is that in Life-Saving situations, Firefighters should not focus on pets. Grab the disoriented human being and Command them: "Forget about yer cat!"


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 10:56 p.m.

Thanks.I just don't like to give a thumbs down ( wish there was a half thumbs down option ) when they already are there but no one seems to have the nads to reply.Now as far as the guy with the cats ? all I could have said would be something like " Uhhh.....yea.Oookay "


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 10:15 p.m.

Ann Arbor News seems to be caring about the pets a little TOO much can we have news with a little bit more substance?


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 4:27 p.m.

I agree with Paula. We need humane stories like this. Too much bad stuff going on. We all need a little warm fuzzy hugs. Thanks Paula for stories like these.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 1:49 a.m.

Your saying that until a fire happens and one of your pets need to be rescued. Maybe you don't have any pets because you don't love animals. I love animals and love these stories. What would you rather hear about? Let me guess, humans committing crimes.

Paula Gardner

Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 10:53 p.m.

This story was assigned before we had another pet rescue this weekend.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 10 p.m.

How many first responders does it take to rescue a cat? I count five. And who pays for this? If an innocent ,motorist is in an accident he is often billed by HVA or township responders even though he didn't call 911 and even though he might not be injured. So why shouldn't a cat owner who actually calls for help be billed for what the taxpayers are laying out to save a cat? Cats are fungible.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 6:59 p.m.

What is "fungible" What is the gist of your post? I sure hope taxpayers didn't lay out any money for your education.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 4:26 p.m.

Does this go with the post from the above poster on disposable pets? What is with people these days? Think you need some four footed carpet hugs. Meaning fuzzy animal hugs.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 9:53 p.m.

An ASPCA spokes-catdog indicated that "we have been lobbying for this initiative over the last few years. It is gratifying to finally get the recognition petkind deserves."


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 4:25 p.m.

Not to mention that the Red Cross now has a new chapter to their book. How to give CPR to a dog or cat. Great job Red Cross. Glad to hear lives are being saved in all directions.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 9:35 p.m.

Perhaps could provide a link where people can purchase one or two that then can be donated, OR we could donate the money so that they could be purchased. I think these are a terrific idea and I am sure people would help with the cost!:)


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

Good ideas - anyone know what a mask costs? Different for dog vs. cat?


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 4:24 p.m.

Bake sale anyone? I am good with this one.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 8:27 p.m.

Rescuing animals from burning buildings is now added to firefighter's "To Do List." A dog will approach an intruder and bark. Do you save the pooch and not continue the search for a child hiding in the closet or crouched behind a closed door under the sink? Who Makes The Decision to deploy pet SCBAs? Sounds like a Council Member to me. Need a replacement pet? The Humane Society has lots of them. Is this an "insensitive" post? You tell me.


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

@doglover: kudos - "churlish" is an exquisitely chosen word. Don't think I've ever before seen it used in comments.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 4:22 p.m.

What most FD have is an image detector to detect whether or not there is a body in a room or not. If a house is being searched and they find something they will most likely try to rescue it. If it is a dog or cat or what ever, most likely they are already suffering from smoke inhalation. So, whether or not the dog is barking or the cat is mewing is irrelevant. What is relevant is the fact that they are searching for anything still living. I have heard of this being done for a long time. I am glad to hear the FD are doing this to show that they are still human. Great job all FD.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

Yes, it's insensitive. Not to mention churlish.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 3:05 a.m.

Perhaps people view animals as "neutral" in the ever expanding world of who likes who and who doesn't like who. Animals are HERE for our enjoyment and pleasure. They help in many respects help those who are lonely, senior citizen, etc... HUMANS kill with a gun, knife, baseball bat, etc, versus animals greet you at the door and NO matter how crappy your day was, they are STILL glad to see you!:) Perhaps you should adopt a cat / dog and bring some happiness into your life!:)


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 10:23 p.m.

Piney.....I'm not a no reply thumbs down troll.So here I go.I'm quite sure that if there is even a question if a human is in a house the pets come in second.If a human needs care the pet comes in second.Is it a insensitive post ? Not really until the pet replacement part, then ya kinda.Now I hate it when people say their pet is like their " kid " but people can get pretty attached to them.Heck my dog sticks to my dad who has Alzeheimers ( sorry my spell check doesn't have that one ) like glue.If he goes outside ( in the summer ) and we loose sight of him all we have to do is let the dog out and first thing she does is find him.So yea, I'd be pretty bummed if something happened to her