Losing a home to fire can be a terrible experience. Losing a pet in a fire can be devastating. Thanks to the Warren County Middle School Interact Club, all fire departments in Warren County now have oxygen masks specifically made to fit cats, dogs, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, birds and other types of pets.
Centertown volunteer fireman Grant Seaborn said, “Most of the time when a family’s house is on fire, they don’t care about their house when there are pets involved. They care about their pets.”
Seaborn was the person who inspired his mother, WCMS Interact Club sponsor Susan Barrett, to discuss the possibility of purchasing the masks for fire departments.
“Grant would tell me about animals they lost in fires and I told my students about his stories,” said Barrett. “The kids raised the money for the masks during the school year at a school dance and the Autumn Street Fair. We raised enough money to purchase two kits for each of the eight fire departments in the county. Each kit has three masks, one small, one medium and one large. The kids are really proud of this project and I think it will save lives.”
Trevor Gribble, firefighter with McMinnville Fire Department, said, “We have actually held human masks on little dogs before. This will be nice to have. People get very upset when their pets are caught in the fire.”
According to the website PetOxygenMasks.org, “Unlike humans who instinctively run out during fires, pets instinctively look for a hiding place to protect them from the fire.
Far too many pets die each year of smoke asphyxiation. While firemen attempt to get pets safely out of burning structures, they are not able to revive them unless they have the proper equipment — pet oxygen masks. These specially-designed animal masks can be used both on conscious pets that have suffered from smoke inhalation and pets that need to be resuscitated after losing consciousness from exposure to the dangerous toxic fumes.”
The kits come in a bag for easy storage and mobility. Included in the kits are oxygen air tubes, ‘Pet Oxygen Masks Onboard’ decals and an instructional DVD.
The kits were presented to firefighters from Centertown, Collins River, Harrison Ferry, McMinnville City, Morrison, North Warren, Rock Island/ Campaign and Viola Fire Departments.
The WCMS Interact Club will be helping build a home with Habitat for Humanity. Members also have plans to help with Main Street Live and Rotary Club’s River Cleanup.