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Rural/Metro saving pets with Fido Bags
Saving the life of someone's beloved pet from a fire is just another part of the job for firefighters, who are better equipped to do so now that they have resuscitation kits specifically designed for use on animals.
Called Fido Bags, the kits are packed with the essential tools firefighters need to get a pet through a crisis, such as pet oxygen masks (human ones don't fit on the muzzle of pets), burn sheets, bandages, protective restraints, thick protective gloves for the rescuer and rinsing saline, among other things.
“Even if we didn't have it, I don't think we would have done anything any different,” said Charly McMurdie, a spokeswoman for Rural/Metro Fire Department. “We probably would have just pulled an oxygen mask from off the ambulance and tried that. So having the Fido Bag really did help because we were able to use a piece of equipment designed for an animal.”
The importance of rescuers having equipment such as a Fido Bag was no more evident than in a trailer fire earlier this month in which the owner's dog, a German shepherd named Booger, was found in a back bathroom after the fire had been extinguished. The room was full of smoke but had not caught fire.
“Booger responded to all that was helping him. When he had the energy, he would wag his tail or try to lift his head. At one point we had about five firefighters around him and myself, either holding cold packs or dowsing him with water,” McMurdie said.
“We knew the animal was in distress. We knew that Booger was in serious condition, and we were going to do anything we could to save him. It is sad we lost him. The odds were stacked against us.”
McMurdie said Rural/Metro has two Fido Bags, one on a fire truck at a station on the west side of town, and the other on a fire truck on the east side of town. She added the goal is to have one of every fire truck, so the company is purchasing three more.
The two Fido Bags the company has right now were a donation from the Fetch Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Scottsdale resident Marie Peck. McMurdie said the three Fido Bags Rural/Metro will buy will also be from the Fetch Foundation.
“The purchase has already been submitted, it just needs to be approved now,” McMurdie said of the bags, which cost about $225.
The animal resuscitation kits were created by Glendale fire deputy chief Elio Pompa and were initially funded by a $4,000 grant from the Sun Valley Animal Shelter five years ago. Peck started the Fetch Foundation in February 2010 after working with animal shelters and firefighters for many years.
McMurdie explained that people's pets are near and dear to them, and because so many households have pets, it's important for firefighters to have the equipment to save them.
“Pets have always been a part of the family, and their importance has become a little more recognized. It is required of us to save everyone we can, but it is special when we are able to pull a family pet out.”
She explained that by the time firefighters get to the scene, the family has either already removed the pet, or it has been lost in the fire. While she didn't have a figure, McMurdie said Rural/Metro has attempted to save animals from fire-related deaths in the past.
While all pets are especially vulnerable to smoke inhalation, McMurdie said for dogs it can be worse because instead of trying to get out during the fire, they tend to try to hide in a place that is familiar to them.
James Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.