MILLBURN, NJ - When first responders get to the scene of a house fire, pets are often the most difficult to extract. One of the many challenges that Firemen and EMS workers face in that situation is that there is no oxygen mask designed for pets on hand.
Canine Company is looking to change that locally. The organization is partnering with the Millburn/Short Hills Volunteer First Aid Squad (MSHVFAS) to provide two sets of pet oxygen masks. The masks range in size from one small enough for a rabbit, all the way up to one big enough for a large dog.
Wednesday afternoon at the MSHVFAS building, Canine Company Regional Sales Manager Phil Ziegler and Essex County Representative Judith Stivaly were on hand to present the masks.
They were joined by Jury, a Yellow Lab, and Tuna, a Blue American Staffordshire Terrier. Both dogs took turns demonstrating the masks as first aid squad members crowded around for pictures.
In a prepared statement, Stivaly explained the decision to manufacture the masks comes from a place of care for family pets and the joy they bring to people.
"Our company was founded by a family of pet lovers and our mission is to help other families keep their pets healthy, safe and happy at home," Stivaly said. "We do that with the products and services we offer, but also through this campaign to donate pet [oxygen] masks to first responders."
Stivaly added, "We are delighted to be able to help the Millburn/Short Hills Volunteer First Aid Squad protect family pets across the city."
For Melissa Campbell, MSHVFAS Captain, having the masks will be a major help to her volunteers if the need arises.
It just gives us more tools in our toolbox," Campbell said. "More ammunition to treat people and pets. Most likely this would be used in a fire standby when you had a structure fire and we were accompanying the fire department with the fire standby."
Campbell also noted that the squad did not have to dip into their budget, as the company came through with a grant.
"We did a grant application through the company, and their application said one [mask] per station," Campbell said. "But they gave us three, one on reach rig when they got on our website and figured out what we did."
The MSHVFAS now become one of more than 500 fire departments and rescue squads across the northeast with this technology.