Local fire departments using special masks to save pets

Andrew Hyman
Updated: October 20, 2019 07:17 PM
Created: October 20, 2019 07:13 PM

ROCHESTER N.Y. (WHEC) — More and more local firefighters are gearing up to save man's best friends and the local chapter of a nationwide organization is stepping up to get them life-saving equipment to use on pets.

It’s part of a nationwide effort known as “Project  Breathe.”  The operation was first created in 2006 by the Invisible Fence Brand. The goal is to donate pet oxygen masks to emergency departments.


According to the organization, more than 40,000 pets die in house fires every year, and it’s the smoke that kills them.  Nationwide, the effort has donated over 200,000 masks.

In our region, the Upstate New York chapter has been operating since 2011.

"We hope that it's never something that needs to be used," said Amy Pusateri, Project Breathe’s General Manager. “Our whole goal behind this is to make sure that we can at least have local fire departments try and reach out and save their pets."

According to Project Breathe, the masks have saved roughly 200 pets nationwide.

Locally, Pusateri says the chapter has donated the masks to several area emergency departments. Most recently, they donated a mask to the West Walworth Fire Department.

According to mask creator WAGN, a kit can cost about $90.

Richard Garret of American Medical Response of Rochester says the masks are worth it because the moments after a pet is rescued from a house are critical. He says AMR has been using the masks for several years now.

The tool is simple, it's designed to fit over an animal's nose then, using an oxygen source, it pumps clean air into the pet's body.

"They’re really getting that pure oxygen and they're getting that oxygen therapy that they really need to help clear out their lungs," Garrett said.

In the past, Garrett and Pusateri say departments had used human masks, which just did not cut it.

"Obviously, with the way that these fit, they've seen better progress," Pusateri said.

Looking ahead, she says she hopes to provide every department in the area with the masks. An idea that Garrett supports.

"There's really no reason to not go through that process and at least try to get one," he said.

According to Pusateri, all a department needs to do is to reach out to Project Breathe and the masks come at no cost.

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