Two charities have teamed up to equip all fire engines in East Sussex with specialist pet oxygen kits in an effort to save the lives of more animals.
The RSPCA has joined forces with Smokey Paws to pay for one specialist animal oxygen therapy kit for every fire engine in the county – with the aim of rolling this scheme out across the whole country.
Brian Lockyer from Smokey Paws said: “With 46% of UK households having pets and over 40,000 house fires a year in the UK, pets can tragically often become the victims of smoke inhalation and poisoning. If oxygen is available at the scene, it should be provided to the pet.
“Specially designed pet oxygen masks are more effective on pets than the human masks often used to try and revive pets by first responders. Our mission is to equip every fire engine in the UK with these life-saving pet oxygen masks.”
Smokey Paws raises the money for the life-saving masks via public donations, company sponsorships and fundraisers. But now, the RSPCA is also helping to fund the kits in an effort to roll them out across the country.
RSPCA animal welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “The bond between people and their pets can be incredible strong and so losing a pet in a house fire can be hugely traumatic.
“Our pets can be very vulnerable to the dangers of house fires and particularly smoke inhalation. The fire and rescue services in this country do a wonderful job, we’d like to help them not only save the lives of people but also of beloved pets who can be caught up in devastating and terrifying fires.
“By providing one special animal oxygen kit for each fire engine in the country, we hope to enable our brave and heroic firefighters to save even more lives.”
All crews in East Sussex will now carry an animal oxygen kit onboard as standard practice.
East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service operations manager Matthew Elder said: “The Smokey Paws Animal Oxygen Therapy Kit is used in the resuscitation of animals rescued from fires or who are in need of oxygen, following respiratory damage through smoke inhalation.
“Occasionally we see pets suffer from the detrimental effects of fire leaving owners devastated and this additional piece of equipment means that we can help to revive pets in those crucial moments following a fire. We have found that it can be difficult to revive a pet with a human-style oxygen mask but this piece of equipment will assist us as it is specifically designed to fit around muzzles rather than a human nose and mouth.
“For many residents in our Service area pets are part of the family and we feel that it is our duty to rescue animals and give them the best chance of survival, which we hope this new piece of kit will give us the ability to do this.”