ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Lashay Harris with American Medical Response can’t imagine losing her 6-year-old pitbull Carmel.
“I had a house fire here at my home in 2010 and I was able to get my dog out,” Harris said. “This is my family, she is my family.”
That sentiment carries true for many families. So on Thursday night, first responders were relieved to be able to save two dogs from a fire on Sunset Street on the northwest side of Rochester. The Rochester Fire Department said a third dog got out on its own.
“When we got out here they were in the lawn of the neighbor who was starting to care for them,” battalion chief Mike Dupre said. “They did have extensive smoke inhalation, the two dogs, and we’ve been treating them since we arrived.”
That treatment came in the form of oxygen masks made especially for pets.
“We have three different sizes,” Harris said. “It’s based on the weight of the dog. You don’t force it, you just put it right on their mouth and you push through the seal.”
In 2012, Harris said Invisible Fence Brand’s non-profit organization Project Breathe donated enough kits to outfit the entire ambulance fleet.
“This kit comes with instructions,” Harris said. “Most of our paramedics and EMT’s are trained, but what if you forget in your nervousness?”
Before 2012, Harris said they used regular human oxygen masks on pets.
“Those weren’t doing the greatest job,” Harris said. “It was basically blow by oxygen. You didn’t have the seal…so we’re doing what we can, but now this is definitely chosen device that was made for pets.”
Since receiving the masks, Harris said they’ve used them in eight instances. Because an estimated 100,000 pets die in house fires every year, mostly due to smoke inhalation, she is grateful to have a way to help our furry four-legged family members, especially in a situation like Thursday night.
“We are pet lovers and it’s really nice to be able to have something like this so that we can help the folks that we serve with their pets when they’re in distress,” Harris said.
Dupre said no one else was home at the time of the fire.
Harris said of the dogs is back with the owner and the other two were taken to the animal hospital for evaluation.