The VCA Shoreline Veterinary Emergency Center in Shelton has donated oxygen masks specially designed for use on pets and service animals to the Shelton Fire Department and Echo Hose Ambulance.
The masks are intended to help animals that may be suffering from respiratory distress during a crisis.
The veterinary emergency center at 895 Bridgeport Ave. donated 10 masks — a pair for each of the city’s four volunteer fire companies, and a pair for the ambulance corps. Each set includes a large and small mask, for animals of different sizes.
Shelton Fire Chief Fran Jones and Echo Hose Ambulance Lt. Jason Correia visited the VCA Shoreline facility to thank staff for donating the life-saving devices.
Downtown fire was inspiration
The masks were presented to the Shelton emergency responders by two VCA Shoreline staff members — Dr. Shelley Smith, a critical care veterinarian, and Kim Granite.
Smith and Granite said they were inspired to make the donation after the Jan 6 fire in downtown Shelton, which destroyed 23 apartments and about a half dozen businesses.
They had contacted Shelton emergency personnel to offer temporary shelter for any displaced animals, and their inquiry led to the revelation that existing pet oxygen masks in Shelton were in declining condition.
Pets can cause fires
The Shelton Fire Department would like to spread awareness about how to prevent pets from starting home fires and how to keep pets safe in the event of an emergency.
Home fires are occasionally caused by pets. Shelton experienced a home fire several years ago that is believed to have been caused by a dog left home alone.
It appears the dog accidentally hit the stove knob and turned on a gas burner that was under a cake pan. Once ignited, the fire spread to the kitchen cabinets.
In addition to the home suffering significant fire damage, the dog and other pets in the home perished in the incident.
How to avoid a problem
Ted Pisciotta, Shelton assistant chief for fire prevention, said measures can be taken to prevent fire risk from pets, such as using flameless candles and safeguarding stove knobs.
Pisciotta offered the following recommendations:
Extinguish open flames: Pets are generally curious and may investigate cooking appliances, candles, or flames and ashes in a fireplace. People should ensure their pet is not left unattended near an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving their home.
Secure stove knobs: Consider protecting knobs with child-safe covers or removing knobs following use.
Invest in flameless candles: These candles contain a light and small battery, rather than an open flame, and take the danger out of a pet knocking over a candle.
What could a pet knock over?
Pet proof the home: Take a walk around a home and look for areas where pets might start fires inadvertently. Pay particular attention to items a pet could knock or pull over, such as lamps, space heaters, candles, etc.
Create barriers from hazards: Keep pets confined away from potential fire-starting hazards, such as the kitchen stove, when away from home. A barrier could include baby gates. While providing barriers to keep pets away from hazards, maintain access to exterior doors when away from home in case of an emergency.
Smoke alarms, 9-1-1, escape plan
Also, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of a home, test them monthly, and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times.
Make sure everyone in a household knows when and how to call for help by dialing 9-1-1, and remember to practice a home escape plan.