DES MOINES, Iowa - The Des Moines Fire Department is now equipped with a new life-saving device. Specialized oxygen masks will help medics responding to fires where there are pets in the home.
When David Rogers heard that human oxygen masks were being used to treat dogs and cats for smoke inhalation, the lifelong dog owner started researching pet oxygen masks for fire departments.
"They'll spend money on the Jaws of Life for a fire station or a new set of hoses or oxygen mask for the firefighters and those are important things. They have to prioritize and dedicated pet oxygen masks aren't high on the priority list," he says.
Rogers donated six Wag’N O2 Fur Life kits to the department. Each kit comes with a mask designed to fit over a pet’s muzzle to administer life-saving oxygen.
On Friday, Des Moines firefighters responded to a house fire in the 1400 block of Clark Street. For the first time, medics used the pet oxygen mask on a Chihuahua named Buddy. Firefighters found the dog unresponsive hiding under a bed in the house. It didn't take long to get the dog breathing again.
"When they went to pick up the mask from the vet hospital, the dog was standing up wagging its tail," says Des Moines Fire Capt. Steve Brown.
Three days later, Buddy took a turn for the worse. He started having seizures due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
"Instead of making him suffer, we put him down," says owner Nick Dickinson.
His family thanked the medics and Rogers' donation for giving Buddy a shot at survival.
"I was glad that they had it," says Dickinson.
"They give you unconditional love. I mean, all they ask is you feed them, you pet them, you play with them and then they become part of your life," says Rogers.
The pet oxygen masks are now on the department’s six ambulances.