Oxygen masks ready to save pets' lives in a fire

December 27, 2017 09:02 AM

"It's really upsetting if you can't save an animal…it's like losing a child," said Chief Garth Riccio of the Thomas Corners Fire Department in Glenville.

That's why Riccio makes sure his first responders are equipped with pet oxygen masks.

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The department was trained to use them about a year ago by pet lover and owner of Invisible Fence of The Tri-Cities and Hudson Valley, Kim Bellizzi.

"They fit onto the oxygen tanks just like they human masks to do," Bellizzi said.

Riccio said one of the masks was literally a lifesaver on December 16 during a Glenville house fire on Maple Avenue.

"The animal was found in the basement," Riccio said. "It was a black lab. They got the dog out. He was still alive."

The black lab mix named Hunter belonged to a couple in the house. 

"They administered oxygen to the dog," Riccio said. "And that went on for about 15 minutes and the dog came back to his normal self."

"The fire chief called and emailed and let me know that they had used it in a situation where there was a fire," Bellizzi said.

What Bellizzi did not know at the time was that the dog belonged to her cousin.

"He gave me the address and I knew it sounded familiar and I went to my computer and it was my husband's cousin," Bellizzi said. "And I had just put in an invisible fence pet containment system in three weeks earlier."

The pet containment system is what Bellizzi’s company, Invisible Fence Brand, installs daily.

They also give away the masks to first responders through a program called Project Breathe.

"Project Breathe is a donation of oxygen masks that we give to first responders and they are used for any of our four-legged family members," Bellizzi said. Cats, dogs, small animals."

Individuals can also purchase the masks for about $50. 

They have become more popular recently.

Bellizzi is happy about that; especially now that she knows the mask saved a pet, she considers family.

"Because they are family members so it is, it's a very good feeling, it's a very good feeling that this was used and it's either an animal's life," Bellizzi said.

Invisible fence will also replace first responders’ pet oxygen masks if they become damaged.


WNYT Staff

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