From Rover to Polly

Pet Rescue kits handed out to East Kootenay fire trucks

  • Dec. 19, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Jaffray/Baynes Lake Fire Chief Dave Boreen accepts a rescue kit from the Marasco Family

When a fire breaks out in a family’s home, often the first thought is to get all the humans out safely. Once safe outside, thought often turns to the family pets, and now two and four legged creatures of all kinds will be just a little safer.

One of the Family Pet Care donated 18 Pet Rescue Kits to East Kootenay First Responders last week, which will ensure that pets of all kinds rescued from a burning home will have access to medical care right away.

The tiny backpacks come complete with an oxygen mask that can be fit to different types of pets, from guinea pigs to a St. Bernard.

Sharon and Gary Marasco, owners of One of the Family Pet Care, said it was a natural fit for their business.

“Everything that we’ve done in our lives has been animal related, whether is be dog, cat or horse,” Gary said.

The family business, which also includes daughter Sophia, brought the idea to Cranbrook Fire and Emergency Services, who quickly jumped on board. Sharon said Fire Fighter Fergus Spowart and Captain Jack Magro of Cranbrook Fire and Emergency Services were instrumental in getting the kits all over the region. She said the pair helped get the kits on the bus to send them to every community, and were happy to bring the tiny bag on board the Cranbrook fire engines.

“They were on it, it was great,” she said.

The kit is contained in an orange drawstring backpack, which can be used to contain a frantic cat during a rescue. Sharon said the cat can be gently tucked in and using the drawstring, their paws and nails can be kept safely inside while the oxygen mask is applied.

The bag contains an oxygen mask in several different sizes that are perfectly fitted to a variety of different animal snouts. The masks can even be applied to birds or small rodents.

“A lot of people didn’t even understand that there was such a thing out there,” Gary said.

The mask easily hooks up to a rescue vehicle’s oxygen system and are designed just like a veterinarian’s system for surgeries and treatments.

“It’s not that much different to the hook up for intubating humans,” Sharon said.

Sharon said they also have forms for the first responders to fill out after a rescue.

“It’s quite official,” she said. “It’s really the neatest concept.”

The idea to donate the kits came from the Marasco family’s own pets.

“We have our own guinea pigs, cockatiels – so we were thinking of our own,” she said. “It’s a really neat kit. This is huge for us.”

Sharon hopes that pet owners will have one less worry if they every experience the trauma of losing their home to a fire or other disaster.

“It will definitely give them peace of mind,” she said.

“Now pets can be quickly administered for smoke inhalation,” Sharon said, instead of trying to fit human-sized masks onto “wiggly little faces.”

Sharon added that while rescuing a pet may not seem important in the grand scheme of things, children already dealing with a traumatic situation will see the service as an important connection to home.

“If you can fit a little O2 mask on that little animal’s face, then that’s one less worry for them,” she said.

The 18 kits went all over the East Kootenay. They are now ready for service with two each in Kimberley and Cranbrook, and one in Panorama, Castlegar, Edgewater, Canal Flats, Fairmont, Radium, Windermere, Invermere, Fernie, Elkford, Sparwood, Baynes Lake, Jaffray and Hosmer.

“They’re already on the units, ready to roll,” Sharon said.

There is of course, one other reason Sharon and the Marasco family wanted to donate the kits. She said it’s all about recognizing first responders for the important work they do in East Kootenay communities.

“That’s basically what One in the Family wanted to do – was thank our fire fighters for risking their lives and going back in,” she said.

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