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Thursday, Oct 19, 2017
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Animal oxygen masks help dogs survive Pasco fire

SAN ANTONIO - The three dogs didn't appear to have a chance. When firefighters arrived about five minutes after getting the call, smoke was billowing from the roof of the 1,500-square-foot home at 31836 State Road 52. Rescuers discovered two of the dogs inside the block house and a third by a door, Pasco Rescue Chief C. Duncan Hitchcock said. "They weren't breathing and had no heartbeat," he said. But rescuers quickly got to work.
"Paramedics were able to use the (oxygen) masks they had on the engine to revive the dogs," Hitchcock said. "These were the same masks that the Suncoast Animal (League) group had donated last year." A volunteer firefighter went across the street to the San Antonio Animal Hospital, which sent over its mobile unit to retrieve the dogs, Hitchcock said today. By that time, the dogs were breathing and starting to stir. No one else was injured in Monday's fire. The owner wasn't home at the time. The fire caused about $35,000 damage to the house, which is valued at $60,000, Hitchcock said. The blaze remains under investigation. The dogs are expected to make a full recovery. In August, the Suncoast Animal League, a nonprofit animal rescue organization in Palm Harbor, donated several dozen sets of animal oxygen masks to Pasco County. The masks now are on all fire engines and rescue units. Valued at $70 per set, the masks come in three sizes to fit animals ranging from small birds to large breed dogs such as bull mastiffs. "This is one of those situations when they came in very handy," Hitchcock said. Without the animal masks, rescue crews are often unable to save family pets suffering from smoke inhalation. Some rescuers have even tried month-to-mouth resuscitation. "Most of our firefighters are pet owners, too, so we really know how important they are, and resuscitating a pet is just as important as resuscitating a person" Hitchcock said. "We pull them out and do what we can."

Reporter Lisa A. Davis can be reached at (727) 815-1083.

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