WARREN - After at least two recent fires in which household pets nearly perished, city officials agreed it was time to look into doing something to better their chances of saving the animals.
On Thursday, J.P. Plizda, owner of Invisible Fence of Eastern Ohio in Austintown, donated three oxygen mask kits to the city's three fire stations.
The kits are free to fire stations through the company's "Project Breathe" pet oxygen mask program.
The masks are specially designed for animals and have been donated to fire departments across the United States and Canada.
"At any fire scene, you're dealing with potential loss. The loss of lives, a home, personal belongings. I really think any fire trauma like that is only compounded when a child sees you bringing out the family's pet and the situation doesn't look good. It's not a good scenario, and it really adds to the hardship."
Parker said that at one recent fire at a home of the city's southwest side, rescuers used a human oxygen mask on the family's dog to revive it. The dog survived, but Parker said reviving the pet took longer than it should have because the mask didn't fit the animal properly.
Tribune Chronicle / Virginia Shank
West Highland white terrier Foxy Lady, 6, and her handler, J.P. Plizda, owner of Invisible Fence of Eastern Ohio in Austintown, far right, show Warren fire Chief Ken Nussle, center, and city firefighter Leo Parker how to use an oxygen mask designed for pets.
Also in recent weeks city firefighters have rescued puppies and a guinea pig.
"We decided we needed to do something for the pets we take out of the houses. It really is something we deal with, and this will allow us to address it better," Warren fire Chief Ken Nussle said.
Each kit includes three masks - in sizes small, medium and large - hoses for each mask and a leash. Plizda said the cost of each kit, covered by donations, is about $60.
"There's no cost to the fire departments or the community. We rely on donations and contributions," he explained.
Recently, kits were also donated to other area fire departments, including Girard and Howland.