An estimated 40,000 pets die each year in fires, most succumbing to smoke inhalation. In many instances, emergency responders are not equipped to fully assist these animals because they lack specially designed pet oxygen masks and training. Project Breathe is trying to change all that.
Recently, we shared a heartwarming story about the New Port Richey Fire Department rescuing puppies found inside an apartment affected by a fire. The unsung hero of this story was the non-profit that supplied the oxygen masks used on the puppies: Project Breathe.
This program donates pet oxygen masks and provides oxygen mask kits to fire departments and other first responders. They have donated more than 13,900 masks to fire stations throughout the United States and Canada since their national launch in 2010– free of charge. A reported 160+ pets have been saved as a result of these donations.
The project is funded 100 percent by Invisible Fence Brand, who puts the kits together and sends them out as part of their philanthropic support.
“Many metro areas have a large population of not only household pets, but service animals as well,” Jeromy Welch, Marketing and Public Relations Specialist for Invisible Fence Brand told iHeartDogs. “Many residents depend on these animals to conduct their day-to-day activities, and the loss of these service animals is not only emotionally devastating, but represents a loss in function for the owner. Since emergency responders in most states lack the equipment needed to resuscitate and save these pets, Project Breathe™ was started to give fire departments, and other first responders in communities across the country, access to these life-saving oxygen masks – and ensure the well-being of pets (and their owners).”
Project Breathe not only donates these masks, but also provides training to first responders on how to use the masks and what to look for if someone says there is a pet in the home. When a house fire occurs, people know to run from the home. Pets, however, run and hide in the home. This puts them at extreme risk for injury or death, making this equipment and associated training critical for times of emergency.
According to Welch: “Local veterinarian partners are contacted to work with the Fire Departments and First Responders that receive the Project Breathe Program donations so the first responders are familiar with the amount of oxygen to administer and proper fit of the masks on the pet.”