Pet oxygen masks donated to East Jefferson firefighters


The Jefferson Parish East Bank Consolidated Fire Department is now better equipped to save the lives of residents’ furry family members thanks to a donation of 10 oxygen masks specially designed to fit animals.

Invisible Fence of Baton Rouge provided the masks and mask kits to the department, free of charge, as part of Project Breathe, the company’s national program.

“It looks like a little mask with a piece of rubber that seals around the nose,” East Bank Consolidated Chief Dave Tibbetts said Thursday (Feb. 15).

There are no hard numbers, but industry sources estimate that 40,000 to 150,000 pets die each year in fires, according to Invisible Fence, which sells fenceless, electric barriers for animals.

Animals are just susceptible as humans to deadly smoke inhalation during fires, said Tibbetts and Deputy Chief of Operations Chris Henderson. On Feb. 23, 2017, two dogs died in an Asher Street house fire caused by a car crash.

A pair of pit bulls, Lil Bit and Shotgun, died Sept. 7 in a Kenner house fire on Arkansas Avenue despite firefighters performing CPR and giving the dogs oxygen. But masks made for humans don’t provide enough of a seal on snouts to force oxygen into animal lungs.

The new masks do a better job of getting oxygen to pets, Tibbetts said.

East Bank Consolidated officials learned of Project Breathe from firefighter Brad Esteves, who was told by a friend, according to Henderson. The company donated 10 masks, one for each fire house in East Jefferson, according to Tibbetts.

“People look at their pets like members of the family,” he said.



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