Masks can help save pets’ lives in Cowichan

Pets in the Cowichan Valley are safer following the donation to area fire departments of more than 30 pet oxygen masks.

Pets in the Cowichan Valley are safer following the donation to area fire departments of more than 30 pet oxygen masks.

Most of the masks come from the Happy Dogs Legacy Campaign, which is purchasing 328 masks for fire halls across the province after a four-month fundraising effort that collected nearly $40,000.

The campaign started in June, inspired after a house fire in Burnaby killed seven dogs and two cats and organizers learned that pet oxygen masks are not mandatory equipment on fire trucks in the province. The Happy Dogs Legacy was established and sought contributions from dog sport clubs, companion animal-focused businesses and individuals across B.C.

“We are immensely grateful to everyone who supported this campaign so we could make this legacy a reality, from the volunteers who tirelessly called halls to get mask numbers, to each and every donor who made a contribution, we could not have done this without you,” Happy Dogs Legacy team member Elisha McCallum said. “Knowing that there will soon be 328 more pet oxygen masks sets in use around the province gives us hope that more companion animals, of all shapes and sizes, will have a fighting chance if exposed to smoke in a fire and that the heartache over the loss of a pet can be prevented.”

In the past, firefighters have had to use masks designed for humans to provide oxygen to pets, as Chemainus firefighters did with a pair of cats following a house fire in early 2013.

The Mill Bay Volunteer Fire Department will receive five masks from the Happy Dogs program, while the Maple Bay fire hall will get three, Shawnigan Lake two and Chemainus one. Another 18 are listed as being allocated to the “Cowichan area.”

The Duncan Volunteer Fire Department is getting five new masks as well, but not from the Happy Dogs program. Following the fire in Burnaby, a local resident approached Duncan firefighters about getting masks, and eventually the Prevost Veterinary Clinic ended up donating five masks to the Duncan fire hall. Vets from the clinic will be doing a workshop with Duncan firefighters to educate them on assisting pets.