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Bella, a cooperative beagle, donned an oxygen mask this week to demonstrate a life-saving strategy for pets that are rescued from fires.

  Homewood Fire Chief Bob 
  Grabowski, with help from 
  his dog, Bella, demonstrates 
  a pet oxygen mask donated 
  to the fire department by 
  Invisible Fence company. 

  (Photo by Quinn Crump/
  H-F Chronicle)

With the help from Homewood Fire Chief Robert Grabowski and his wife, Laura, Bella showed how miniature masks can be fitted onto an animal’s snout and hooked up to oxygen tanks. They performed the demonstration at Tuesday’s Homewood Village Board meeting.

Grabowski said Invisible Fence donated two pet oxygen masks to the fire department as part of its Project Breathe initiative.

The program seeks to equip first responders across North America with proper oxygen masks for pets suffering from smoke inhalation during a fire.

Invisible Fence has donated more than 12,000 pet oxygen masks to fire departments and emergency service providers in the U.S. and Canada. Homewood’s fire department also purchased three additional masks, Grabowski said. With the five pet masks, each of the department’s fire apparatus will have the proper equipment for pets suffering from smoke inhalation.

The mask could best be described as a miniature continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask. As Grabowski demonstrated with Bella, the gasketed masks come in three sizes

— small, medium, and large — and are made to fit and seal around the snout of a cat or dog. Once in place, masks are hooked up to an EMT’s oxygen tank.

Grabowski explained the procedure the masks play in pet CPR. Resuscitating pets is similar to human CPR, with cats and small dogs being compressed on their backs and larger dogs on their sides. He said many pets die of smoke inhalation because cats and dogs tend to hide in the home during fires.

“We realize that humans are the first priority, but in many cases, pets can be saved if firefighters have the right equipment,” said Ed Hoyt, director of Invisible Fence. “Project Breathe program is simply a way of giving firefighters the tools necessary to save pets’ lives.”

Invisible Fence’s goal for Project Breathe is to stock the masks in every fire department and first response across the U.S. and Canada.

The company, which specializes in pet security, estimates that up to 150,000 pets die in fires each year, with the majority succumbing from smoke inhalation. With the oxygen masks, 150 have been saved in 2016, Hoyt said.

More information about the pet oxygen mask initiative is available at www.invisiblefence.com/O2.

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