Breath Of Life

The Suncoast Animal League of Pinellas County, FL is trying to raise money for 50 animal oxygen masks. To fully understand their mission we need...


The Suncoast Animal League of Pinellas County, FL is trying to raise money for 50 animal oxygen masks. To fully understand their mission we need to go back to 2005, and a dog named Wrigley.

In 2005, his owner committed suicide by attaching one end of a hose to the tailpipe of his idling car and the other to an opening in his mobile home. His idea, according to the note he left, was to take Wrigley, his best pal, with him. But it didn’t work out.

The bulldog was saved by Clearwater Fire and Rescue’s assistant chief of health and safety Doug Swartz, who used a human oxygen mask to revive the animal.

Wrigley’s story triggered an effort to equip all emergency vehicles in Pinellas County with snout-sized oxygen masks. More than 120 masks were distributed four years ago.

Unlike human oxygen masks, animal oxygen masks can be used more than once, but some of them have been mistakenly discarded. Consequently, the Suncoast Animal League is trying to raise money to buy 50 more animal oxygen masks to redistribute to rescue operations throughout Pinellas County.

As the first step toward that goal Thursday, the Animal League announced it was donating 12 of the masks to replenish the supply of Clearwater Fire and Rescue.

Wrigley, who has become the Pinellas County animal oxygen mask spokesdog, was on hand.

After his ordeal Wrigley was adopted to a wonderful new home. He was living a happy life until five months ago when his owner, Jessica Martin, noticed a lump on his front right leg. Unfortunately, it turned out to be cancer, but being the fighter he is Wrigley survived surgery and amputation of the leg.

The operation was very expensive, the Suncoast Animal League jumped in to help and found a vet who would do the surgery for half cost. However, there’s still medical costs of $1300 and they are accepting donations to help offset the bills.

How to help:

The Suncoast Animal League is raising money for two causes:

Animal oxygen masks: Donations are needed to buy 50 of the masks to help replenish supplies for Pinellas County emergency responders. If interested in donating, call the Suncoast Animal League at (727) 786-1330.

Wrigley: The dog recently had to have a leg amputated because of a type of bone cancer. If you would like to help offset the $1,300 in medical bills, call the league at (727) 786-1330.

*Pic of Wrigley demonstrating how the mask works courtesy JIM DAMASKE/TIMES

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