What happens if there’s a fire in your home, and your dog, cat or rabbit is trapped inside?

Thanks to the generosity of a company in Connecticut, a growing number of fire departments in New Jersey are now carrying specially designed oxygen masks for pets.

According to Jennifer Hill, the CEO of Canine Company in Wilton, Conn., dozens of fire companies in the Garden State have asked for and received these masks over the past seven years.

“The masks themselves are designed specifically to fit over the animal’s snout, and they connect to a standard oxygen tank that rescue teams carry,” she said.

Hill said the oxygen masks come in three different sizes, “so they can be used on all sorts of pets, from small mammals like rabbits up to giant dog breeds like great danes.”

She said over the past year, several fire companies in New Jersey have received pet oxygen masks, including North Plainfield, New Providence, South Old Bridge, Milltown, Hopelawn, Lindenwald, Sterling, Quakertown, Jackson Township and Rainbow Lakes.

She stressed “the philosophy of our company is to help pets to be healthy, safe and happy, so we created the Canine Saves charity to be able to donate pet oxygen masks to fire departments in Jersey and across the Northeast."

Fire chiefs can get information on applying for the masks at the caninecompany.com charities page.

Hill said with about 150 thousand pets dying in house fires every year, the masks can often be the difference between life and death.

“Pets are at special risk if there’s a house fire, if no one’s home they can’t get out of the house and they often can suffer severe smoke inhalation,” she said. “Most oxygen masks are designed for humans, and they just don’t fit over the animal’s snout, so they can’t get the care that they need.”

She added “many firefighters are pet lovers and they really appreciate having this kind of tool, and it makes us really happy to be able to partner with fire companies so they have pet masks available.”

The company is also distributing special Pets Inside decals to fire companies, so they can be given to homeowners.

“As you know pets are like family members, and we want to do everything we can to keep those family members safe,” she said.

Hill said it’s not known exactly how much money has been spent on the pet mask campaign over the years, but it's the tens of thousands of dollars.

“We’d love it to outfit every first-responder team,” she said. “It’s really our goal to try to get as many of these masks as we can in the hands of local fire departments so we can ensure that we’re able to help in their pet rescue.”

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