North Andover Fire Department gets four animal oxygen masks for Animals
Written by Crystal Bozek on July 19, 2009
NORTH ANDOVER — Firefighter Barry Sullivan has three dogs of his own. He knows how close people get to their pets.
He's also seen pets not make it out of fires, and the heartbreak that can cause a homeowner.
"There was the German Shepherd on Christmas Day. That was tough," Sullivan said, remembering one incident, as he petted his dog Kurn, a 10-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback. "To some people, these are our kids."
That's why Sullivan is so excited about the North Andover Fire Department's newest equipment — four sets of pet oxygen masks that will help resuscitate animals suffering from smoke inhalation.
The masks, which cost $55 apiece, were donated to the department on Friday by a local pet care business owner.
Tracey Zysk, owner of Wiggles & Jiggles Pet Care of North Andover, raised more than $300 for the masks during the town's Fourth of July festivities. Her business includes pet sitting, dog walking, cat care and animal massage. She also donated $100 to the North Andover Police Department's K-9 unit.
"I've been wanting to do something, and with all the animal-friendly condos going up around town, I thought this would be a good idea," she said. "They gave me the helmet and boot to collect money and people just kept giving money. They were so generous."
The cone-shaped plastic masks come in three sizes and fit snugly on a snout. They can be used on dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs — even birds if needed.
Masks made for humans are not the right size for animals and don't deliver enough oxygen to clear their lungs.
Animals often have to wait to get to an animal hospital for treatment, and many times, that's too late. And animals are even more susceptible to smoke inhalation.
The masks are reusable and work the same way a human mask would, by feeding oxygen through a tube that pumps it to the nose and mouth.
Fire Lt. Robert Bonenfant said it's the worst feeling being on scene but not being able to help an ailing animal.
"We just want to have something, some tool," he said. "Firefighters just want to do something. It's hard for them to hold back."