A family in our town lost their home and one of their dogs to a fire about a year ago. While their dog was already dead by the time firefighters found her, the couple were shocked to hear that the rescuers probably wouldn’t have been able to save her even if they had arrived in time. Like most responders, they didn’t havethe equipment or training necessary for animal rescues.
What does it take to be able to treat animals in an emergency? Special gear to start with, like tiny oxygen masks that are dog and cat size, restraint and handling aids, specialized training in animal first aid and CPR, along with contact information for local veterinary clinics or emergency referral hospitals.
One Minnesota veterinarian, Dr. Janet Olson, has taken on this cause with her non-profit organization called BART–Basic Animal Rescue Training. BART is named forone of herfriend’s German short-haired pointer who was named Bart. Bart died after ahouse fire, even thoughfirefighters tried to revive him with human resuscitation equipment. Despite the firefighters dedication and efforts, the equipment simply didn’t work for a dog.
Now, Dr. Olson teaches firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, and police officers how to administer first aid and CPR and how to handle larger animals in emergencies. After the specialized training, participants are supplied with the correct gear for animals, along with appropriate reference materials. Olson’s organization has trained and certified over 4,000 first responders in the past 5 years and wants to expand nationwide.
If you’re interested in getting involved with BART, visit their website at www.basicanimalrescuetraining.com to see how you can help or receive training. And, to minimize any regrets you might have if your pets were caught in a fire, contact your local fire department to see if they carry pet-sized oxygen masks as standard equipment. You might also visit the ASPCA website to for a window decal that tells rescue workers there are pets in the home. Go to www.aspca.org/petsafety
Any rescue stories about pets to share?