JACKSON – The decision was easy, Joe and Myra Salz said. What if it were their dogs who needed the help?
The Salzes, members of the Westlake Animal Group, donated the money to purchase four pet oxygen masks. Two were donated to Jackson Station 55, on North New Prospect Road, and Cassville Volunteer Fire Company No. 1, station 56. Members of WAG and fire station officials met at the Johnson Park fire station on March 11 to receive the donations.
John Siedler of Jackson’s Fire District 2 said oxygen masks for humans are “better than nothing” when aiding animals, but ultimately do little to aid animals suffering from smoke inhalation.
Oxygen masks can be made of silicone, plastic or rubber, and are lined with a seal that covers the mouth and nose of the person wearing it. While oxygen makes up about 21 percent of room air, the mask and tank deliver a higher concentration of oxygen.
The masks made for people don’t fit over the face of a cat or snout of a dog. WAG purchased the “O2 Fur Life” pet oxygen masks, sold by Wag’N O2 Fur Life, a Reston, Va., based company. The reusable masks come with three different-sized masks—made for “dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, birds and many more species,” according to the site—and oxygen air tubes. The kits cost $90 each.
Station 55 Chief Tim Carson demonstrated how the mask fits over the Salzes’ dog’s face. Baxter, a French Poodle rescue dog, patiently allowed Joe to hold him and Carson to place the mask over his face.
“We love animals. I grew up with cats,” Joe Salz said. He and his wife have another French Poodle rescue dog, Charles T. Bear. (The “T” stands for “trouble,” Myra said.)
“We were at the WAG meeting where they were discussing the resuscitation, and we thought, ‘It could be our dog, and what if they didn’t have it,’” Myra Salz said.
One dog during the Christmas season was saved by a pet oxygen mask.
“They had it in a crate so nobody would see the dog. When the fire broke out, the dog was in the crate. The firefighters pulled him out,” Carson said of a fire that broke out at Christmas on Hyson Road. “The brought him right to first aid, first aid immediately put the mask on him, and put him in the back of the chief’s truck, and they took off to North Star Animal Vets, and they actually saved the dog’s life. The dog made it home before Christmas.”
WAG president Susan Addelston said she would like to see each fire station and first aid squad equipped with the pet oxygen masks.
“We know that the Jackson First Aid Squad doesn’t have one yet, much to our surprise, so they will be next. We already have a commitment from one of our members to purchase another one! As soon as he saw our story posted within the community, he called and said he’d do so,” Addelston told The Jackson Times. “Our goal is to make sure that all of Jackson’s fire/first responder groups have them.”