Animal oxygen masks donated to Cedar Rapids Fire Department - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Animal oxygen masks donated to Cedar Rapids Fire Department

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - When a house catches fire, getting people out quickly and safely is the top priority. But, even though we love our pets, sometimes they're the last living things to get out. On Tuesday, the Cedar Rapids Fire Department received a donation of oxygen delivery masks, specially-designed for our furry friends.

When firefighters get to the scene of an emergency, endangered pets are often a concern, according to EMS Chief Curtis Hopper.

"I would say at least 50-percent of the time...they'll say that there are pets in the house," said Hopper.

Pulling a dog or cat from a burning building is challenging enough, but providing them with first aid quickly can be even more difficult, according to Dr. Allan Berger, veterinarian at Bright Eyes and Bushy Tails Animal Hospital in Iowa City. 

"Sometimes, if there's an animal that's struggling to breathe and you put something over their face, they don't always know what it is you're putting over their face, and their reaction is to swipe it away," said Berger, who is also a former fire chief.

That's why Cedar Rapids firefighters are thankful for these new animal oxygen masks, donated by Invisible Fence. This is the second batch of masks donated by the company, meaning every fire apparatus will be equipped with one.

"The snout is longer, and so these masks are designed just for that," Hopper explained, as he demonstrated how the masks fit animal faces better than ones made for humans.

Dr. Berger has examined pets with smoke inhalation.

"The most recent one I remember was a few cats from a fire in Iowa City. There were two Labrador retrievers that were great dogs that we had in oxygen cages."

As masks like this become more common at fire departments across the nation, Berger says the chances of saving the lives of animals can only get better.

"Oxygen is really the only practical short-term, in-the-field thing you can do, other than rush them to a veterinary hospital."

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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