Masks For Furry Friends

Burlington Union, Thursday, Feb 15, 2007, By Jodi Blasé.  Wendi Dellemonico, owner of A Better Way Errand and Pet Sitting Service, is always looking for ways to help animals.

Through an article, she learned that human oxygen masks are inefficient on animals. Moreover, when house fires occur many pets will seek hiding spots. Unfortunately, by the time they are discovered it is often too late.

“Without pet masks fire crews have had to resort to using human oxygen masks, which don’t seal properly around an animal’s face, or simply conduct mouth-to-snout resuscitation. Pets that do get rescued have the ability to make a miraculous recovery. Having specialized oxygen masks can make their chances even greater,” said Dellemonico.

Discovering there were pet rescue kits designed to revive dogs, cats, and even lizards, Dellemonico’s mission became clear: She contacted H.E.L.P. Animals, Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Orange City, Fla., and purchased one of their pet rescue kits to donate to the Burlington Fire Department.

“Many owners view their pets as family members. I thought the pet rescue kits were something I could do to help both the pet owners and their pets here in Burlington,” said Dellemonico, who owns two dogs and pet sits for animals in Burlington and surrounding towns.

Dellemonico presented the pet rescue kits to the fire station on Feb. 7.

“We were very happy to receive the kits from Wendi. Every single fireman here has had the experience of being at a house fire where a pet was involved. Up until now we’ve had to use equipment meant for humans and do the best we could to save the animal. Now we have the resources to start on the scene care. We will definitely make good use out of them,” said Fire Lt. Mark Saia.

Saia said the masks will be put on Engine 1, at the front line, so that they will always be available.

“They’re so user-friendly that it’s going to be great,” he said.
It’s not as if Burlington pets are immune to the danger of fires either. In 1999, a house fire on Fairfax Street left one dog running for her life and her puppy still in a cage, already limp from smoke inhalation. At the time, Firefighters John Hunt and Mike Runyan rushed the puppy outside and Hunt used his own oxygen mask to revive the German Shepherd.

When asked how she thought the meeting went, Dellemonico replied, “I thought it went great. The fire station was very receptive,” then added, “It’s difficult enough to have to endure a crises such as a house fire, but to lose a beloved pet on top of it is tragic. If we’re able to save even one life, that will be enough for me.”