Fayetteville veterinarian and owner of Lyndon Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Eric Davis, recently donated animal rescue kits to three local fire departments after learning how inappropriate human masks fit dogs and cats.
"Most of us view our animal companions as family members and would hope and expect that family pets could also be resuscitated by rescue crews if they were overcome by smoke or carbon monoxide," Davis said. "However, most people do not appreciate the fact that face masks designed to provide oxygen to humans do not work effectively to resuscitate animals."
Davis and his wife, Hannah, therefore, donated a total of eight O2 Fur Life rescue kits to be carried on trucks of the Syracuse, Jamesville and Fayetteville fire departments. The DeWitt Fire District was already equipped, he said.
Each kit contains three masks: small, medium and large, with tubing that can be attached to an oxygen supply carried on the emergency vehicle. It also includes a leash that can be converted into a collar, and a pliable bag to gently tuck in and restrain the body of a flailing cat so no one gets injured after the feline has been resuscitated. The masks are useful in treating animals overcome by smoke inhalation, carbon monoxide or near-drowning.
"Think about the nose of an average-sized person compared to the nose of a beagle, Labrador retriever or even a kitty," Davis said.
The configuration of a dog or cat's face is not at all similar to humans. To help demonstrate the inadequacy of human oxygen masks for animals, Davis brought his dog, a smooth-coat Collie named Apache, and his cat, Itty Bitty Kitty, to training sessions he scheduled with fire members and emergency medical technicians at each fire station.
"Apache has an amazingly long and impressive snoot, a nose that would be truly 'out of joint' if the proper equipment were not available in an emergency," he said.
Rescue cat Itty Bitty Kitty was born with a congenital neurological abnormality of her rear legs.
"It's the kind of thing that nobody really thinks about until there's an emergency," Davis said. "I didn't know there was a need for it myself."
The rescue kits sell for approximately $70 each retail cost.