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Nonprofit donates oxygen masks for pets to fire departments

Union Leader Correspondent

March 10. 2016 7:39PM
Raymond Fire Chief Kevin Pratt accepts a donation of pet oxygen masks from Danville Animal Control Officer Sheila Johannesen Thursday afternoon. (Jason Schreiber)

Firefighters know the importance of taking that extra step to save pets from burning buildings.

“To people, they’re part of the family,” Raymond Fire Chief Kevin Pratt said.

That’s why members of the Merrimack Valley Kennel Club based in Derry have spent the last four years raising money to purchase pet oxygen masks to donate to fire departments around the state to store on fire trucks.

The club made its first donations Thursday afternoon by giving the Raymond Fire Department two sets of masks and four more to the Deerfield Volunteer Fire Department. The Candia Volunteer Fire Department will get six sets and the Derry Fire Department will receive two at a presentation Friday morning.

Pratt said his department has used older versions of pet masks in the past and was grateful for the new sets, which include three sizes that can be used on dogs, cats and other animals large and small.

“It’s going to be great to have more,” Pratt said.

Raymond saw 16 fires last year and about half involved pets, Pratt said.

Danville Animal Control Officer Sheila Johannesen has worked on the fundraising project with the Merrimack Valley Kennel Club. She said the goal is to continue purchasing more masks, which cost $65 per set, to donate to fire departments statewide.

“It would be nice if every truck had one,” Johannesen said.

Cindy McHugh, Deerfield’s animal control officer and captain of Deerfield’s rescue squad, said a pet organization gave her department a mask some time ago and that the additional sets will be helpful.

“The only way we would get them is through a donation,” she said.

Anyone interested in donation to the fundraising effort to provide more pet oxygen masks to additional fire departments is encouraged to contact Johannesen at 382-3679.

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