PoCo firefighters now equipped to save pets

A fire or serious car crash can be a traumatic event for even the strongest person.

It’s just as difficult to see the family pet struggle to survive after one of those incidents.

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But thanks to a donation from a veterinary hospital to the local fire department, pets in Port Coquitlam will have an easier time when they need some human help.

This week, firefighters in PoCo are being trained to operate a new pet oxygen mask kit to use on calls.

Fire chief Nick Delmonico explained the department ends up going on a number of fire calls where the family pet will need help, and firefighters feel helpless in the situation.

He said the department used to apply oxygen masks shaped for humans that weren’t as efficient.

The new pet masks come in three sizes and can fit around as something as small as a budgie, and as large as a horse.    

“We have a lot of pets, especially dogs in Port Coquitlam, and a lot of people believe their pets are part of their family. It’s very unnerving for people to see their pets in distress, so it’s another tool for us to try to help out wherever we can,” Delmonico told the Tri-Cities NOW.

The department is getting four kits to go on all of its fire trucks.

The kits include the mask, instructions and some extras, like a leash and blanket.

The fire chief believes the new equipment will help save animals’ lives, noting the department usually deals with the situation a handful of times a year.

Delmonico also said the training will help firefighters, as it offers proper procedures to follow in case CPR is needed on an animal.

He said it’s just part of the department’s efforts to meet the needs of the community, adding the city is a very “pet-invested community.”

To give a rough idea of how many dogs there are in PoCo, the city issued 4,334 dog licence renewals to residents in 2015.

The oxygen kits were donated by Mountain View Veterinary Hospital out of Langley.

Veterinarian Renee Ferguson, who lives in Port Moody, said she wanted to equip as many fire departments with the life-saving equipment. 

“We just wanted them to have the tools so when they make an attempt to save the pets’ lives, they have the appropriate tools,” she said.

PoCo is the third department to get the masks, behind the city and townships of Langley.

The Port Moody fire department will be getting a set of masks by the end of the month.

Ferguson recommends all departments get the pet oxygen equipment.

“Most of the firefighters love pets and they’re there trying to help an animal… and they don’t have the right tools, it seems not fair,” she said.

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