Losing a pet in a home fire can be painful, but thanks to an anonymous donor, Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue has a new piece of equipment that can help save a pet's life.
The Web site for Bark 10-4, a recently launched program, allows visitors to sponsor a pet oxygen mask or a set of three different-size masks for a fire department of their choice.
An oxygen mask suitable for a large dog arrived at the Martinez department a few weeks ago, said Capt. Robert Rosier, the department's director of medical operations.
The campaign, sponsored by the pet safety organization Bark Buckle UP, is aimed at providing the pet oxygen masks for every fire truck in the country.
The masks are used to provide oxygen to pets in respiratory distress after being inside a burning building.
"If we pulled a dog out of a fire and he's got smoke inhalation, oxygen is the No. 1 key ingredient to reviving them and bringing them back," said Danny Kuhlmann, the training chief for the department.
In the case of home fires, Rosier said, firefighters try to rescue pets, which are often overcome by smoke.
"Whatever it is, we always make an attempt to rescue all the animals," Rosier said. "In the past, we've tried to use the human version (of an oxygen mask) to do the best we can to help them out. Obviously, it is better for the animals if we have something specifically designed for them."
The masks are similar to human oxygen masks, but are big enough to accommodate a dog snout.
For a $25 donation on the Bark 10-4 Web site, visitors can send a pet oxygen mask to the fire department of their choice.
A $65 donation allows an entire set of three, in small, medium and large sizes, to be sent to a fire department.
The goal would be to have a set of three on every fire truck, Rosier said.
In the meantime, the donated mask is on the Martinez-area command vehicle, driven by the shift chief, who responds to all structure fires.
Rosier said he wasn't informed in the letter that arrived with the mask who the donor was, but he was able to send a thank-you note to the donor through the organization.
"I sent them a very nice, long letter telling them how much we appreciate it and how valuable it is to us," Rosier said.
For more information about the mask program, visit www.bark104.com.
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