Hope from tragedy: Group wants pet oxygen masks on B.C. fire trucks
A group of dog lovers is hoping to outfit all B.C. fire trucks with a key piece of equipment that can save the lives of pets during a fire.
The campaign, HappyDogs Legacy, comes a month after a devastating fire at the Burnaby home of dog trainer Dove Cresswell, where seven dogs and two cats died after being overcome by smoke. Only two animals in the home survived.
The group is trying to raise $15,000 through crowdfunding to supply all 152 fire halls in British Columbia with at least one pet oxygen mask kit.
Each $150 kit comes with three sizes of mask, which can be accommodated to fit dogs and cats, but also smaller animals like Guinea pigs, rabbits and even birds. The conical shape covers the whole mouth and snout to make a strong seal, so all oxygen is delivered to the struggling animal.
Campaign organizer Elisha McCallum started a fundraiser as a legacy to her friend's killed animals, in hopes other pets could be saved in case of a house fire.
"What [Dove] really wanted was to not have this happen to anyone else. She's hoping that by putting this call out for pet masks that we can prevent this from happening to anyone in the future," she said.
"There's hope that can spring from tragedy."
Most fire trucks in Vancouver already carry pet masks, as a result of a recent donation program. Departments in Port Coquitlam, Langley, Victoria, Abbotsford, Delta and Port Coquitlam also carry the equipment but not necessarily on every truck.
There are many remote, rural and volunteer fire departments, smaller halls, as well as search and rescue operations, that may not have the finances to purchase them.
Jonathon Gormick of Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services says having an oxygen device for pets isn't just good for a fire hall: it's also a morale booster for the community and first responders.
"It's really hard for us when we see an animal that's suffering or compromised or even deceased," Gormick told CTV Vancouver.
"If we have one more tool in our kit to help bring them back, and make the day a little less awful for someone who is already suffering some kind of loss."
With so many fire halls in B.C., and multiple trucks at each location, McCallum recognizes that the campaign is ambitious – but she's optimistic.
"We know that there are a lot of pet owners around B.C. that would be very concerned if a truck was to respond to a fire at their home and this piece of equipment wasn't on it," she said.
"While you don't think an accident could happen to you, let's make sure first responders have the equipment they need to save your pet's life if it happens."
Click here to learn more about the HappyDogs Legacy project.