Local fire department receives oxygen masks for dogs, cats

In addition to their standard human equipment, firefighters at the Hampton/Valley Forge Volunteer Fire Department now have specialized oxygen masks to use for animals who get caught in structure fires or other disasters.

The masks are a donation from the Friends of Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter after Animal Shelter Director Shannon Posada had a grill fire in her yard.

“It scared the crap out of me when it blew the doors open and the flames went higher than my house roof,” Posada said. “In the process, I put all of my dogs up and I put all my cats in the back of the house because, if it is going to blow, […] they should be safe in the back of the house.”

It was only after the fire was contained that she realized how much worse it could have been if the fire had reached her pets.

“At that point, I asked the firemen that came over if they had masks,” she said. “They did not have any kind of mask.”

After that, it took a conversation with the Friends of the Shelter to figure out how to purchase the masks and get them to the fire department.

“I think it is an awesome thing, not only for the Friends group to be able to help, but it is really an outstanding thing for our pets and also for these volunteer firemen,” chairman of the Friends Michael Barnett said.

The masks function identically to the standard human oxygen masks on each fire truck. The Hampton/Valley Forge branch now has three masks: one large mask, one medium mask and one “feline” mask for cats.

“It is going to be really helpful for our community,” Hampton Fire Chief Chris Isaacs said. “This is an item we do not normally think of but we really need.”

Isaacs said this donation is important because they would normally not be able to afford something like this.

“We are financially strapped, so it is difficult to justify purchasing something for a pet compared to protective equipment for my officers,” he said.

Posada and the Friends said they plan to donate these masks to every fire department in the county in the near future.

The Friends said they raise the money for donations such as these through fundraisers and other events. Those interested in supporting the shelter can find more information on their Facebook page.

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