Firefighters Trained to Save Animals Give Family a Chance to Say Goodbye to Their Pet

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A house fire in Minnesota over the weekend claimed the life of a family dog, but not without a hard fought effort to save the dog by firefighters. Richfield firefighters worked diligently to resuscitate the dog that escaped the burning home using training they learned from a special program developed by veterinarian Dr. Janet Olson called BART. The firefighters were able to keep the dog alive, but sadly the dog passed away later on at a pet hospital.

Dr. Janet Olson is a wife of a firefighter and recognized that there was a need to train firefighters in the treatment of animals in emergencies. She developed BART, which stands for basic animal rescue training. The program is run by volunteers and operates off grants and donations. It teaches firefighters how to deal with all types of animals in emergency situations, from livestock to household pets. “So far, I’ve trained over four thousand firefighters in the state of Minnesota,” Olson says.

One of the main components of their program is teaching CPR for companion animals. This is a skill they recommend all pet owners learn. The first step to assessing an animal that may need CPR is to check their gums. If the gums are healthy and pink that is a good sign, if the gums are white that’s an indicator that there’s a problem. The second step is to rest your hand on the animal’s chest to feel for breathing. Finally, using your fingers you want to check the inner thigh to feel for a pulse.

If mouth-to-nose resuscitation is necessary, first administer breaths to the dog. Breathing into their nose, watch to see their chest rise and fall to make sure the breaths are effective.  After two breaths, 30 compressions are administered with the dog lying on its side pressing on the chest.

The BART program also provide firefighters who have gone through their training with a kit that contain the essentials to helping animals in these situations, including oxygen face masks. The kit was put to good use this weekend in this fire. Even though the dog eventually passed away Olson points out that, “With the firefighters being able to use skills that they learned and actually bring the dog back, it actually gave the owners a chance to say goodbye to their pet.”

Firefighters worked hard to save the dog, who eventually passed away.

To learn more about BART visit their website at http://basicanimalrescuetraining.org/

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