House pets in East Hawkesbury can breathe a bit easier now. The township’s fire department now owns oxygen masks for cats and dogs rescued from burning buildings. The three masks were received last week at the St-Eugène fire station. They were donated by Gaetan St-Denis, an Invisible Fence dealer in St-Lazare. Invisible Fence uses radio frequency technology to keep pets contained in yards. Donating oxygen masks for pets to local fire departments is part of the company’s Project Breathe initiative to increase the availability of the devices to reduce pet deaths from fire. “Our core business is to keep pets safe,” said St-Denis, who said the masks come in small, medium, and large sizes and that he would like to donate at least ten of the devices per year to fire departments across the region. The products are made by McCulloch Medical, based in Wisconsin and are worth about $250 each.
St-Denis said he is talking with two or three other fire departments about donating pet oxygen masks to them next. East Hawkesbury Fire Chief Dominic Normand said they will be better able to assist domestic animals who often become disoriented and are rescued by firefighters after inhaling a lot of smoke. Normand said the three sizes of masks allow them to assist pets of varying sizes and being able to help them will give comfort to their owners who are generally also dealing with the loss of possessions or their entire home because of a fire. Normand said pets become family members for many people and they want them to have a chance at survival if an emergency like a fire happens.
The Vankleek Hill Fire Department also has similar masks for pets, donated by MacCormick Veterinary Services of Vankleek Hill.