Donation helps first responders save pets

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The Travis County Kennel Club donated pet oxygen kits to Williamson County ESD #4. Present for the donation Monday were, from left, Charles Johnson, TCKC President Helen Dorrance, Battalion Chief Brandon Herring, TCKC Board member Ron Henley and Clayton Huggins. (Lauren Jette Photo)

The Travis County Kennel Club donated pet oxygen kits to Williamson County ESD #4. Present for the donation Monday were, from left, Charles Johnson, TCKC President Helen Dorrance, Battalion Chief Brandon Herring, TCKC Board member Ron Henley and Clayton Huggins. (Lauren Jette Photo)

By Lauren Jette

Williamson County Emergency Services District #4 now has the resources to help save pets in fires or accidents, thanks to a donation of pet oxygen masks from the Travis County Kennel Club.

The TCKC donated 20 of the masks to Williamson County Emergency Medical Services, in addition to 60 masks to other fire departments in the area and to Texas Search and Rescue, said board member Ron Henley. He said the masks were purchased with money earned from TCKC’s American Kennel Club dog show.

“When these guys go to a fire, typically is, a pet will go hide under the bed with all the rush and holler and everything, so then it’s the fireman going in later to bring them out and rescue them from smoke inhalation,” Henley explained.

“What I found out is, when they are fighting a fire, there is an ambulance that has to be on the scene whenever there is a fire to make sure the firemen are okay. So (the firemen) hand the pet to the EMT, who’s just waiting and that’s going to be ideal. Either the firemen can give them their kit or the EMT can use their kit. The pet wins, the owners love it because the firemen saved their pet.”

The masks are specifically designed for pets, and come in three different sizes to fit over dog snouts and cat noses and even guinea pigs.

“We’re kind of handcuffed if we do pull a dog out of a burning building. If it is suffering from smoke inhalation, there’s not a whole lot we can do,” said Liberty Hill Battalion Chief Brandon Herring.

“But now with this resource they are providing us, we can help the dogs out a lot, whenever in the past we really couldn’t do anything. So it’s going to be very beneficial, I believe.”

Herring said they haven’t pulled too many pets from burning buildings, but it has happened.

“We pulled a dog out of a house a couple years ago, and it was a really smoky environment and everything. The dog was running around and seemed okay, but had we had this mask, obviously we could have put him on there for a little while,” Herring said.

By receiving three mask kits, the department can spread them out to cover just about any call they might get.

“We are getting three masks, one on the engine, one on the squad and one on the chief command vehicle,” Herring said.

“They also donated a bunch to Williamson County EMS and they come do standbys when we are on a fire scene, so they’ll have them as well. So we’ll be loaded up now and in real good shape.”

Henley pointed out that many people travel with their pets, so if they get into an accident EMTs can help pets now also.

Each mask kit costs around $70, but Henley thinks that cost is small compared to saving an animal.

“Any time you can save a pet, it’s worth it,” he said.

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