A mask for man’s best friend

The Salmon Arm fire department is receiving four sets of pet oxygen masks.

The Salmon Arm fire department is receiving four sets of pet oxygen masks after fundraising efforts of the Happy Dogs Legacy Campaign.

“Occasionally there’s a residential structure fire and there’s pets in need,” said Salmon Arm fire chief Brad Shirley.

“It was an offer that was brought to us and it was free.”

After nearly four months of focused fundraising efforts including donations from dog sport clubs, companion animal-focused businesses and individuals from around the province and beyond, the Happy Dogs Legacy Campaign announced nearly $40,000 was raised which enabled 328 pet oxygen mask sets to be purchased and sent to fire halls across B.C., at no cost to each hall/department.

“We are immensely grateful to everyone who supported this campaign so we could make this legacy a reality – from the volunteers who tirelessly called halls to get mask numbers, to each and every donor who make a contribution,” said Happy Dogs Legacy team member Elisha McCallum.

“Knowing that there will soon be 328 more pet oxygen masks sets in use around the province gives us hope that more companion animals, of all shapes and sizes, will have a fighting chance if exposed to smoke in a fire and that the heartache over the loss of a pet can be prevented.”

The campaign began in June after a Burnaby house fire in late May took the lives of seven dogs and two cats.

The dog sport and pet community was so profoundly impacted that Happy Dogs Legacy was established to ensure something positive came from the tragic event and after learning that life-saving pet oxygen masks are not a mandatory piece of equipment on every fire truck in B.C.

Calls began to municipal and volunteer halls to gauge interest and the campaign was met with a very enthusiastic response, with 95 fire districts expressing interest in receiving the kits.

A PetFundr page was created and several other initiatives including an online auction were held to raise the needed funds.

The pet oxygen mask kits were acquired through the Wag’N 02 Fur Life Program’s Pet Oxygen Mask Initiative, a North American distributor for McCulloch Medical.

Each kit includes a set of three oxygen masks in various sizes, tubing to connect masks to oxygen supply, a training DVD, hints and tips sheet, kennel lead for on scene animal handling, useful reporting forms, laminated instructions, educational materials and pet oxygen masks on board stickers, all inside a carry bag.