Many people consider pets as members of their family. And when tragedy strikes, this companionship is more important than ever. Now, donations to La Crosse fire stations will make the city one of the best equipped to save a pet's life.
The La Crosse Fire Department received a donation of four pet oxygen mask kits on Tuesday thanks to the "Project Breathe" program. This program was founded by the "Invisible Fence" brand and aspires to equip every fire station in the United States and Canada with pet oxygen masks.
When firefighters are called to duty, they come prepared to deal with human-related health crises. Each year, pet owners and firefighters watch helplessly as an estimated 40 to 150 thousand of pets die due to smoke inhalation.
Many of these deaths could have been prevented if first responders had access to the right equipment. And that equipment has made a permanent home in La Crosse.
"The feedback we have gotten has been very, very positive," said Karla Toppen, Owner of Invisible Fence of the Tri-States. "Many firefighters, in fact all of them, are pet lovers too. And they want to save these pets. Because they know they're part of people's families. So this just gives them a tool that they're able to use so they can save those pets."
Each breathing mask kit has several masks to accommodate pets of all sizes. Tom Thompson, veterinarian at the Thompson Animal Medical Center spent the afternoon training firefighters on proper pet oxygen mask use.
So far, Project Breathe has donated more than 10 thousand pet oxygen mask kits to fire stations across the nation and Canada. Other departments that have received similar donations in our region are Holmen and the town of Shelby.
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