Pets breathe easy thanks to equipment donation

Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) is adding new breathing equipment for dogs, cats and even hamsters to every front line fire appliance thanks to kind donations from the RSPCA and members of the public.

The specially designed pet oxygen masks, which have been provided by the not-for-profit organisation Smokey Paws, are now being carried on fire appliances across the Service.

The masks will be conical in shape and are specially designed to fit over the snout of an animal. These masks deliver a superior flow of oxygen to the animal in need, increasing the chance of revival.

Across England, 46 per cent of households have pets. Unlike humans, pets will normally hide from a house fire rather than leave, suffering increased levels of smoke inhalation compared to a human.

The decision was made to carry Smokey Paws after successful trials in which AF&RS used the equipment to care for nine dogs and one cat following house fires.

The equipment has already been used by operational crews – Biscuit the dog was treated with the masks following a house fire on the January 16 in Mangotsfield.

Dave Matthews, Technical Services Watch Manager for AF&RS, said: “In the event of a fire, families are often worried about how their pets will get out of the property and what we can do to assist an animal that has been involved in fire to increase their survival rates”.

“We know that animals will often hide in the event of a fire, which may lead to the animal inhaling toxic smoke”.

“Fire doesn’t discriminate and neither do we. Smokey paws will go a long way into ensuring that we deliver the best possible care for people and animals alike and we look forward to seeing what a difference it will make”.

“We would like to thank the RSPCA and members of the public for their kind donations of the equipment. It will have such a positive impact.”

Thanks to the kind donation of 35 kits – 30 from the RSPCA and five from members of the public, the specialist equipment will be on every front line fire appliance within the Service area.

RSPCA animal welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “The bond between people and their pets can be incredibly strong and so losing a pet in a house fire can be hugely traumatic".

“Our pets are vulnerable to the dangers of house fires, and particularly smoke inhalation, just like us".

“The Fire and Rescue Services do a wonderful job. We’d like to help them not only save the lives of people but also of beloved pets who can be caught up in devastating and terrifying fires".

“By providing special animal oxygen kits for fire appliances for AF&RS, we hope to enable our brave and heroic firefighters to save even more lives".

“The money for the masks has been raised by RSPCA branches across the region. This has funded the project, which has also seen masks added to fire appliances in Somerset, Devon, Cornwall, and Wiltshire with the hope it will help transform the lives of four-legged fire victims.”

Current human-shaped masks used by AF&RS only give the animal about 10-15 per cent of the oxygen needed. The new masks, which come in three sizes, will provide around 85-90 per cent of the oxygen needed, therefore are much more effective.

There are currently 3,551 fire appliances in the UK and Smokey Paws would like to see their equipment carried on each one.

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