Oxygen masks for pets hope to save more lives

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Monday, May 9, 2016
Giving first responders lifesaving tools for Fido
Florence Twp., fire department receives a donation of oxygen pet masks and other first aid items

FLORENCE TWP., N.J. (WPVI) -- In Florence Township, Burlington County, there is an initiative to save lives, and in this case, it's about the lives of pets.

It comes in the wake of a deadly fire this past February that claimed the life of a service dog named Buddy.

Marie Burg-Smith still gets emotional thinking about Buddy's final moments.

The service dog to a combat veteran was rescued in the fire, only to die two days later from burns to his body and severe smoke inhalation.

"He was on the balcony, and I guess he was trying to crouch down and get air, they didn't know he had so much in him," Burg-Smith said.

North Star Vet is now donating the first round of oxygen pet masks and other first aid items to the Florence Township Fire Department. This is part of a new initiative in Buddy's name.

North Star Vets' Dr. Steve Berkowitz treated Buddy and though he thinks these will save a lot of pets' lives, it unfortunately could not help Buddy.

The fire department says an average of two out of five calls they receive include pets.

Carolyn Taylor of the Florence Township Fire Department says the masks will help them save lives.

"The masks that we'll be receiving fit the snout of a dog or a cat, and have a better seal and we can give them more oxygen much easier," Taylor said.

Hoping to make sure what happened to Buddy doesn't happen again, North Star Vets say they plan to donate four more oxygen mask kits to the fire department over the next month.