4 min read

Pet-Sized Oxygen Masks Saved These Cats, And Could Save Your Pets, Too

An Oregon family whose home caught fire dodged tragedy when first responders were able to successfully resuscitate their two cats found unconscious inside.

The Monday afternoon rescue was possible thanks to the fact that crews came equipped with an important piece of lifesaving equipment: little oxygen masks designed just for pets.

"We've had the oxygen masks for pets for a number of years, and they've been used in several incidents to resuscitate dogs and cats successfully. We use them quite regularly," Brandon Paxton, from Oregon's Clackamas Fire Department, told The Dodo. "In fact, this recent rescue was the second incident we've used them for in the last month."

Veterinarian Karen Henson, from the Cat's Meow Cat Clinic in Oregon City, told The Dodo that both cats are recovering well from smoke inhalation, adding that the story might be sadly different if it weren't for the masks first responders had on hand.

"I'm so happy to know that they have the resuscitators available. I think that's a really good option for these guys. They own their own pets at home, so it has to be heartbreaking if they aren't able to help," says Henson. "Their job is to save lives, so it gives them one more option in doing their jobs. As a veterinarian, I think that's really important."

Oxygen masks designed for humans have been used to save animals before, but doing so can mean that firefighters have to improvise at a time when seconds count.

Unfortunately, those masks meant to save pets are sorely lacking throughout the country. According to Project Breathe, a campaign appealing for public support in equipping fire departments with small oxygen masks, an estimated 40,000 to 150,000 pets die each year in fires, mostly due to smoke inhalation.

To learn how to help make pet-sized oxygen masks more widely available, visit Project Breathe's website here.