Losing a pet in a house fire can be a devastating experience. Many pets die each year of asphyxiation due to smoke inhalation. While firemen attempt to get pets safely out of burning structures, they are not always able to revive them unless they have the proper equipment — pet oxygen masks. These specially-designed animal masks can be used both on conscious pets that have suffered from smoke inhalation and those that need to be resuscitated after losing consciousness from exposure to dangerous toxic fumes. Unlike humans, who run out during fires, dogs and cats instinctively look for hiding places to protect themselves from fire.

Fayetteville Fire Captain Mike Reep is an engine company officer. But he’s also a pet lover. Recently, he had occasion to save a family pet from a house fire on Seabrook Road. As Reep’s Engine-3 crew made sure all the residents were safe during a primary search of the house, he heard a dog barking. 

“It was terrible,” he said in an interview with Up & Coming Weekly. 

Rescuers found the medium size dog hiding in a bedroom where firefighters had just knocked down flames. The animal was rescued from the burning house and resuscitated by Reep using a pet oxygen recovery mask easily attached to a standard oxygen tank. Depending on the size of the animal and the degree of distress it’s in, measured doses of ¼ liter to 15 liters per minute of oxygen are administered, he said.

Fayetteville Fire Chief Ben Major says five years ago the ASPCA donated enough pet masks to equip all 16 city fire engines. 

“We’re in the life saving business,” he observed. A pet had been rescued from a burning house on Amye Street in the Eccles Park area off Murchison Road. In that instance, firefighters had used a standard size oxygen mask designated for people. Publicity got the ASPCA’s attention and the organization almost immediately made the donation to the city fire department, according to Major. 

If purchased, the three-mask kits and hoses retail for about $90, according to Assistant Fire Chief Richard Bradshaw. He says each kit contains masks for use with small, medium and large animals. They’re so versatile they can be used on just about any air-breathing animal from
a bird to a St. Bernard. The masks are reusable, sturdy and
easily cleaned.  

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