Donation helps Saanich Fire give pets a better chance for survival

Saanich Fire provided four sets of pet oxygen masks through the Happy Dogs Legacy Campaign

Capt. Jerry Tomljenovic with Saanich Fire shows off the pet oxygen masks that can be instrumental in saving the lives of animals

Capt. Jerry Tomljenovic with Saanich Fire shows off the pet oxygen masks that can be instrumental in saving the lives of animals

The Saanich Fire Department is now better equipped to ensure our furry family members will be given a fighting chance in the event of a fire.

Saanich Fire is the recipient of four sets of pet oxygen masks through the Happy Dogs Legacy Campaign.

“It all comes down to the ergonomics of the face. A human face is different from a canine face. We require something that fits a much longer snout,” said Capt. Jerry Tomljenovic, public education officer with Saanich Fire.

“There’s really two purposes – one is to provide oxygen, and if you had to you can pop the cap off and use it for resuscitation as well.”

The pet masks come in three different sizes, with cavities designed to easily cover the nose and snout of different breeds and sizes of animal.

Saanich Fire already had one set of pet oxygen masks, but the additional sets will allow the department to outfit the different stations so one will always be on the scene of a fire if it’s needed. Tomljenovic said Saanich Fire has not had the opportunity to use the pet masks since getting its first one a couple years back, but he does know the difficulty of trying to use an oxygen mask designed for a human on an animal.

“Lots of times prior to having these, we’d feel helpless when we get the dog out and we wouldn’t have the ability to actually put a mask of some sort on to give them additional oxygen therapy,” he said, adding firefighters would previously just lay an oxygen mask next to the dog’s face.

“Certainly it wouldn’t be anything near as successful as something like this that provides a nice solid seal around the dog’s nose so they’re getting full oxygen therapy,”

The Happy Dogs Legacy Campaign raised nearly $40,000, allowing them to purchase 328 pet oxygen mask sets for fire halls across the province. The campaign began in June of this year, after a Burnaby house fire in late May took the lives of seven dogs and two cats.

“Knowing that there will soon be 328 more pet oxygen masks sets in use around the province gives us hope that more companion animals, of all shapes and sizes, will have a fighting chance if exposed to smoke in a fire, and that the heartache over the loss of a pet can be prevented,” said Happy Dogs legacy team member Elisha McCallum.

Tomljenovic said the masks are a welcome addition to the department’s apparatus, and one he is sure will save a family from heartbreak.

 

“It would be absolutely devastating if I lost my pet so I can only imagine what it would be like for other folks,” he said.