Group donates pet CPR kits to fire department

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It can be hard for people who lose everything in a fire, but even more so if they also lose a loved one and that includes pets, so one group is working to help first responders save the lives of animals injured in house fires.

The Animal Protection and Welfare Society, or APAWS, has donated 13 pet CPR kits to the St. George Fire Department. The kits are specially designed to fit over the snouts of pets, which can make saving the lives of family pets a little easier for first responders.

"We appreciate the fact that pets are family members," said Eldon Ledoux, spokesman for SGFD. "Our firefighters are family people. We have families and we have pets and we understand the sense of loss that can occur."

The Whiteside family knows first-hand how devastating a house fire can be, especially one that claims the life of a beloved pet. A blaze started in their kitchen in October and quickly filled the home with flames and smoke. The family's three dogs were trapped inside.

"They told me they used an infant nebulator-type device on her to bring her back, but they had no pulse," said Lisa Whiteside. "They tried on all three of the dogs and she's the only one they were able to save."

"Unfortunately, once this accident happened, it gave us the opportunity to be able to raise funds for it," added Heather Alfinito with APAWS.

APAWS delivered the pet CPR kits to the fire department Monday. Alfinito said they cost about $70 each and have three different mask sizes to fit pets from cats to large dogs.

"It comes with papers that they can fill out if they bring the dog to the vet, so the vet knows exactly what happened out in the field," Alfinito explained. "So, it is very helpful to have. It just lets everybody have a piece of mind on what's going on."

St. George is the first fire district in the parish equipped with these kits. Ledoux said the new tools will better prepare them for future emergencies, ones Whiteside and her family hope no one else has to experience.

"I think that they should have these in all of the trucks in all of the areas, not just here in Louisiana, but every state. I would have never imagined that I would have experienced a fire in my home, much less have animals that I would lose or potentially lose," Whiteside added.

Copyright 2013 WAFB. All rights reserved.