CHAZY - The Chazy Volunteer Fire Department is now able to help rescued animals breathe easier thanks to a donation from one local business.
Invisible Fence of Champlain Valley presented the department with an animal rescue oxygen mask kit July 19, now giving the department specialized equipment for animals that suffer smoke inhalation.
Invisible Fence representative Kevin Carter presented the donation to department members, explaining how the mask is used similar to an oxygen mask for human smoke inhalation victims. Carter, who has pets of his own, said he personally felt proud to make the donation on behalf of Invisible Fence as part of the corporation's "Project Breathe" initiative.
"I consider my dogs part of my family," said Carter. "I treat them like my kids and I know there are a lot of other families out there that feel the same way about their pets. If there's one success story we can get out of all of this, if we can maybe save the life of one pet, it's definitely worth it."
Dan Harriman, rescue captain for the department, said the donation was one that was very appreciated and could prove useful in saving the lives of many animals.
"I think it's great," Harriman said of the donation. "We do have fires in the area where animals can suffer from smoke inhalation. This will be something we'll be able to have on one of our first responding trucks to be able to assist those animals."
While the primary focus of rescue crews at a fire scene is in saving and preserving human lives, Harriman said he understands how people devastated by the fire are just as devastated at the thought of losing their family pet.
"Once the family is out, a lot of times they're concerned about animals if they have them," said Harriman. "It becomes another part of us saving lives."
Carter said Invisible Fence plans to provide similar kits to other departments in the area, noting the donation to the Chazy department was "the first of many more."
"We want to do this for all our emergency service providers in Clinton and Essex counties," said Carter. "We'd like to have one on each department's vehicle."
That would be all right with Harriman.
"It's great to be able to get a donation. Any donation helps the department," he said.