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Groups Donate Pet Oxygen Masks to Fire Department

Sixty oxygen masks designed for animals were donated to the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service.

When Darnestown resident Lorie White's home caught fire last year, the first thing - or things - she sought to save were her animals.

Luckily, with the help of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, White's dogs, cats, parrots and horses were evacuated from the flames unscathed.

"You only have a split second," White said. "Things can be replaced, but you can never get over the loss of a family member - two-legged or four-legged."

As a token of her gratitude, White decided to donate one oxygen kit designed especially for animals to Fire Station 31 - the first responders to her house fire. Eventually, that small gift blossomed into an even larger donation.

Two area groups donated 60 animal oxygen masks to the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service on Wednesday - enough to equip every fire engine in the county. Each kit retails for about $70. Steve Monaghan, vice president of Chantilly-based Invisible Fence, and Ines de Pablo, the executive director of Wag'N Enterprises, were on hand at Station 31 to present the masks to Fire Chief Richard Bowers and other department personnel.

"We're very honored to partner with both these esteemed companies," Bowers said during the presentation.

The equipment usually used to treat animals suffering from smoke inhalation is equipment that has been designed for humans, Bowers explained.

"It's a challenge, at best," when using the human equipment, he said. "This new equipment that you provided to us makes it much easier."

In a press statement, the department said as many as 100,000 animals die every year across the U.S. from smoke inhalation. These new masks will help save animal lives.

White, who attended the presentation on Wednesday, called it a happy ending.

"From something bad came something very good," she said.

Lezlie Crosswhite October 27, 2011 at 03:47 PM
What a great idea! Although we have an emergency plan to save all our animals in case of fire, I still worry if we'd be able to get them all out.
Theresa Defino October 27, 2011 at 04:53 PM
This is Rockville Patch, and Rockville is served by the Rockville Fire Department. So I am wondering if the city has these masks. We had a house fire down the street from us a few months ago and I think at least one cat died.
Mutts Matter Rescue October 27, 2011 at 06:59 PM
Great idea and story!
Sean R. Sedam October 27, 2011 at 07:48 PM
Theresa: Your question presents a good opportunity to clarify a common misconception. The four Rockville Volunteer Fire Department stations (two of which are within the city limits) are part of the county fire and rescue service. They're not part of city services. Capt. Oscar Garcia, spokesman for the county fire and rescue service, tells me that each of the Rockville stations will be receiving masks after the masks are properly labeled for inventory purposes and firefighters are trained in their use.
Theresa Defino October 27, 2011 at 08:42 PM
Thank you! I'd call that more of a correction than a clarification, and I do not mind admitting when I am wrong. I am glad they will have the masks. The trucks say "Rockville," but I should have remembered they're all county.
Connie Markley Boppre October 27, 2011 at 09:45 PM
thank you. dogs are devoted family members and deserve this.
Laura L Thornton (Editor) October 28, 2011 at 07:34 PM
What a great story. Thanks for reporting on this, Lauren!

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