It is now appealing for companies and members of the public across the region to help raise funds to buy more pet oxygen masks.
Smokey Paws, which was set up in April by concerned dog owners Brian Lockyer and Lynn Carberry, fundraises to buy the oxygen masks from overseas, which come in a kit of three costing £90 in total for differently sized pets, ranging from large dogs to cats and small dogs and small furry pets.
Smokey Paws is aiming to have all 3, 550 fire engines in the UK kitted out with the pet oxygen masks. It is asking people to donate vital funds to help make this a reality via its website www.smokeypaws.co.uk. Smokey Paws has raised £4,500 since setting up in April and aims to raise £350,000 through a mixture of sponsorship and public donations.
Husband and wife Brian and Lynn, who are also full-time directors of a PLC, were moved to set up Smokey Paws after discussing their worries about leaving their pet Labrador home alone.
Founder of Smokey Paws Brian Lockyer explains: “My wife is American and she mentioned that the fire service in the US has pet oxygen masks fitted in their fire engines. We felt we needed to do something to help make that a reality here.
“Fire services are attending over 40,000 house fires a year and 46% of UK households now have pets. When there is a house fire, our much-loved pets are at great risk from smoke inhalation, which could lead to death if not treated effectively and quickly.
“The fire service tries its hardest to revive pets using human oxygen masks, but these masks are designed for the use on humans and not animals. The pet oxygen masks are specifically designed for dogs, cats and smaller animals like rabbits, snakes and mice and therefore are more efficient than trying to use human masks.”
Chemicals released from burning materials include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and cyanide that can cause injuries and symptoms including breathing difficulties, increased respiratory rate, burns, swelling, inflammation of the mouth, eyes, skin, upper airway, coma, seizures and eye and skin burns.
The first fire brigade to be equipped with the oxygen masks was Avon Fire and Rescue Service. Station Manager Jon Brown said: “In the event of a fire in the home families with animals are always concerned about how their pets will get out of the property. Firefighters often have to enter premises to search for missing animals, which may have taken in smoke.
Often animals are affected by smoke quicker than humans so it is hoped the masks will save beloved pets during blazes.
Jon added: “We can be asked to search a smoke-filled house for an animal and when we find it, it may be unconscious and not breathing. This new equipment means we have special masks to use on dogs and cats, which may need oxygen. A few minutes can be the difference between life and death so the sooner we can give oxygen the better and this equipment allows us to do this.”