TUPELO • If a dog is trapped in a burning house in Lee County, firefighters now have a tool to help resuscitate the animal – a canine oxygen mask.
Animal lovers across the county and around the globe donated money over the last few months. The fundraiser generated the $800 that was needed to purchase 18 masks, enough to place one at each of the seven fire stations in Tupelo and all the volunteer fire departments in the county.
The masks work the same way non-rebreather masks work on humans. The canine mask is attached to a standard oxygen tank. The conical mask is then slipped over the muzzle of the dog to provide oxygen to an animal that might have been overcome with smoke.
While the masks are completely new to most firefighters, the Mooreville-Eggville Volunteer Fire Department has been carrying them on its trucks for several years.
“About three years ago, we had a dog in a fire,” said Capt. Terry Bostick. “When we got him out, we were able to use a regular non-rebreather mask to get him to come to.
“After that, our training officer went to a veterinarian to see what else we could do and found out about the canine masks. The vet donated four sets, so we have them on all three pumpers and on one rescue truck.”
Since getting their masks, Bostick said the department has not had the need to use them.
The fundraiser was the brainchild of Tanya Mayo and Jo Escher.
“Tanya found a video on Facebook of one being used and sent it to me,” said Escher. “So I set up a Facebook donation page. The area (animal) rescue groups were a big help getting the word out.”
In about a two-month span, the women raised enough money, purchased the masks and were able to distribute them to the various departments.
“We even had a lady in Australia donate,” said Mayo. “She didn’t have a PayPal account, so she just bought one and mailed it to us.
“Since we started this, Union and Alcorn counties have started their own fundraisers. And I heard Amory is looking to get masks as well. Looks like we started something, and I think it’s wonderful.”
In addition to the masks, organizers provided the fire departments with a grant form where the pet supply company Invisible Fence will provide each station with a set of three masks – small, medium and large. The different sizes allow firefighters to use the right size mask for anything from a toy dog or cat, up to a 100-pound dog.
To get the departments started, the fundraiser purchased all large masks, which can be used with smaller animals.