By Polly Keary, Editor
Pet owners can breathe easier this month, knowing that if their animals are ever involved in a house fire, the Monroe Fire Department will be well equipped to help them survive smoke inhalation.
Last week, Cascade Animal Clinic concluded a months-long fundraising effort by purchasing six sets of oxygen masks designed especially for use with animals, and donated five of them to the Monroe Fire Department.
The other will go to a fire department in either Sultan or Gold Bar.
The idea for the project arose as a result of a relationship with a client who was both pet owner and firefighter, said Susan Bernard at Cascade Animal Clinic.
The staff at the clinic learned that when pets were rescued from house fires, they often needed oxygen just as humans do upon inhaling dangerous amounts of smoke. But the oxygen masks carried by firefighters were designed for humans.
However, while administering the Cascade Animal Clinic Facebook page, veterinarian Shawn Bucholz saw a post about a dog that had been aided by a special oxygen mask for pets.
Bucholz knew how badly smoke inhalation and poisonous gases could affect pets, remembering one dog in particular that was brain damaged by CO2 poisoning.
“He could have recovered fully, if he’d had this,” said Bucholz. “He was functional but he wasn’t the same dog he was before. Carbon monoxide binds to hemoglobin, so it can be hard to replenish the oxygen.”
She did some research and learned that special pet masks were available through an online company. They came in sets of three for different sized pets, and cost about $68 each.
She decided to try to raise enough money to get five of the sets; one for each responder vehicle in Monroe.
“I thought it was a fabulous idea,” said Bernard, and the project was underway.
The clients of Cascade Animal Clinic donated half the funds, and the clinic matched each dollar. They raised enough money to buy six of the mask sets.
Last week they presented five of them to the Monroe Fire Department.
And the last one will go to a fire department up valley.
“We will hopefully save some little puppies’ lives,” said Bucholz.