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Animals breathe easy in New Baltimore

Monday, Apr. 21 | By Julie Taylor
Furry family members in the New Baltimore area could now see the difference between life and death.

Last Wednesday, the New Baltimore Animal Hospital, along with clients Nicolle Jones and Robin Wells donated 10 oxygen masks, which are specially designed to fit a pet's face, to the New Baltimore Fire and Rescue Department.

"We've had a number of pets here because of fires," said Dr. Christopher Bailey, owner of New Baltimore Animal Hospital.

Bailey said that because every fire and emergency vehicle in New Baltimore now carries the masks, there's a good chance the pet's smoke inhalation can be fully treated at the scene of the fire.

"I think this will get them going right away," said Bailey.

He stated a recent statistic he discovered—nationwide, households have 1.5 pets; in Virginia, households have 2.5 pets.

"People move to Fauquier to have pets," he said.

In the event of a fire, Fauquier firefighters always attempt to get the family pet to safety, but if they don't have the proper equipment, the pet could die from smoke asphyxiation.The animal masks can be used on a conscious pet that has suffered from smoke inhalation, and also on an unconscious pet that requires resuscitation after being subjected to the danger toxic fumes.

The masks, which are produced by Wag'N 02 Fur Life, come in three different sized masks that can be used on dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, birds and more.

Kate Chrismer, a member of the New Baltimore fire company, volunteers her skills at Little Fork Fire and Rescue Department—a station with advanced animal saving capabilities, including large animal rescue.

Chrismer, who used to work for an animal shelter, said that the implementation of animal masks is a huge step in the right direction. She said much of their training surrounding animal aid is similar to how they have been taught to treat humans.

She said the masks, which could benefit something as small as a hedgehog, are smartly designed to attach to the "Ambu-bag."

Those who live outside of the New Baltimore area can be assured that the rest of Fauquier fire and rescue stations are in line.

Chief George Keefer said, "They're working on getting them on every truck in the county, but it's a work in progress."

The oxygen masks cost $75 a piece. Part of New Baltimore Animal Hospital's donation was funded through well-visits.

"We donated 10 percent of our wellness exams toward the masks," said Karen Putnam, the practice manager.

Putnam said they set aside funds throughout the month of December, and with the help of Jones and Wells, they were able to raise $756, "exactly enough for 10 masks."

Dr. Bailey owns the practice with his wife Meg. She said, "It's such a good thing for all the animals in the area."

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