Special oxygen masks used to save pets during fires

ESCANABA – Losing a home to a fire is devastating but to also lose a pet creates an even greater tragedy for fire victims.

An Upper Peninsula business is doing its part to lessen the number of cats and dogs which die in fires due to smoke inhalation. Invisible Fence Brand of the U.P. is donating pet oxygen masks to local ambulance services.

“Our goal is to have every Emergency Medical Service in the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin to have an oxygen mask in their vehicle,” said Kyle Miller, of Marquette, owner of Invisible Fence Brand of the U.P.

Miller and his springer spaniel, Lilly, recently visited Escanaba where he provided Rampart Emergency Medical Services with an oxygen mask kit for all of

the department’s ambulances. Each kit contains a small, medium and large mask for cats, dogs or other pets.

“The masks have a potential of saving a pet’s life. To save a pet means a lot,” commented Miller. He and his dog demonstrated to the emergency personnel how a mask works on an animal.

In addition to Escanaba, the local fence dealership has donated pet oxygen masks to emergency medical services in Marquette, Ishpeming and Baraga. More masks will be donated to other communities.

These regional donations are a part of Invisible Fence Brand’s corporate-wide “Project Breathe Program” to equip every fire station in America and Canada with pet oxygen masks, explained Miller. More than 10,000 masks have been donated by the company.

“The Project Breathe Program is simply a way of giving firefighters the tools necessary to save pets’ lives. We realize that humans are the first priority, but in many cases, pets can be saved if firefighters (and emergency personnel) have the right equipment.”

Miler was encouraged to donate the pet oxygen masks to the Escanaba ambulance service through the efforts of Wendy Pepin, of Escanaba. Pepin, a dog owner, spearheaded the installation of a sign at Harbor Hideout playground in Escanaba’s Ludington Park that explains a dog’s body language to children.

Pepin said the pet oxygen masks which have been distributed in the U.P. have already saved some animals.

“It’s difficult enough to lose your home and everything else, but the additional loss of a pet or pets makes the experience all that more traumatic,” commented Pepin.

“With these masks on board, some pets may be able to be saved,” she said.

According to Invisible Fence Brand, more than 90 pets in the U.S. and Canada have been saved by the donated masks to date.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, jlancour@dailypress.net