FLORENCE, S.C. — Pee Dee pets can breathe a bit easier because of a donation of pet oxygen masks to several fire departments.
Pet Oxygen Kit Project Inc. on Thursday donated 77 pet oxygen kits to equip fire departments covering four South Carolina counties in the Pee Dee region.
In Florence County fire departments received 45 of those kits — enough to equip every fire department in the county with one kit for each of their first-out engines, said Sam Brockington, county fire/rescue coordinator.
“Although these counties represent the Pee Dee region, our mission is to equip every station in South Carolina with these life-saving kits to save our pets who are so dear to all our hearts,” said Mary Ellen Tobias, co-founder of Pet Oxygen Kit Project Inc.
"The pet oxygen masks are a great asset for any fire department to have," said Howe Springs Fire Marshal Michael Page. "We help any and all people in need and animals too."
There are three different sized masks in each kit — the same masks that veterinarians use in their offices, Page said.
"Anything that breathes air we can use this to apply the oxygen to," Page said.
The masks are durable, can be decontaminated and reused.
"It's not a one-and-done tool," Page said.
The masks also won't be the first of their kind on Howe Springs engines.
"We have — as probably every fire department does, our members are animal lovers, as are most people — we had a few people speak up and say this would be a good idea for our department to have," Page said. And the department purchased some.
The additional masks will come in handy, especially at house fires where firefighters are most likely to encounter animals in distress.
Page said homeowners who have pets should place a sticker or some sign on a door where emergency responders can see it and react accordingly.