KGUN 9News


Pet oxygen masks help save man's best friend

Posted at 6:18 PM, Apr 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-22 21:53:19-04
An estimated 40,000 pets die each year in house fires. Most of them because of inhaling smoke. 
The Tucson Fire Department has equipment they hope can reduce that number.
Just this week, firefighters were able to save a pup after he had been lifeless for 15 minutes. 
Not knowing his name, they called him "Lucky."  But it's more than luck that saved that dog.
When firefighters get to a fire scene, the top priority is always getting people out safely.  But a big reason people run back into a burning building like this is to try and save their pets. 
"As soon as we get on scene, if you can communicate to the firefighters that you have an animal inside, believe me, that is a priority for us as well. So we will go in there and do our best to get the animals out." said Capt. Barrett Baker, spokesperson for the Tucson Fire Department.
Once they're out, that's when the real work begins. 
Many animals are unresponsive from smoke inhalation.  Like a bull mastiff that was pulled from a burning house in January. 
"It was struggling. Just barely agonizing type of breathing. Our firefighters were able to deliver that oxygen and again, slowly but surely, you could see life coming back into the dog."
The task of saving animals was made easier by a donation to the department that is taken to every full alarm fire in the city.
Oxygen masks designed specifically for animals. 
"Take a look at these side by side. Here's your normal human oxygen mask and then here's one for a pet. The major difference is the size and shape so this gives tighter seal around a pet's nose and mouth."
More oxygen, more quickly means a higher rate of survival.
Saving a family's pet can bring some comfort to people watching everything they own go up in flames. 
"When you have had to speak to somebody who has gone through that and then you can come out with an animal, you know, it turns that absolute look of desperation and exasperation into maybe a little smile."