Benefit Dance Will Raise Funds For Oxygen Masks for Animals

WHEELING – The Ohio Valley Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals wants to make sure cats and dogs get the oxygen they need when being treated by emergency personnel.

The local SPCA is teaming with the Wheeling Fire Department to purchase oxygen kits with masks sized for animals, and their goal is to place these kits on every fire truck in Ohio County.

The organization will host a Valentines Day/Oldies Dance to raise money for their cause. The event is set for Feb. 8 at Generations in Fulton. Those wanting tickets or more information should call 304-242-6963. Donations can be picked up in person by volunteers, or mailed to the Ohio Valley SPCA, P.O. Box 3001, Wheeling, WV 26003.

SPCA volunteers aren’t certain just how many masks they will need to buy, as a number of local fire companies already have purchased them. The kits cost about $100 each, said volunteer Brenda Freeman. She noted if enough funds are raised, the kits could be placed on ambulances or with emergency responders in Marshall County.

Freeman said the cause is one that touches the hearts of animal lovers.

“Everyone has pets,” she said. “And God forbid if something would ever happen to them.”

And firefighters said it is quite common for family pets to suffer smoke inhalation or the effects of carbon monoxide during emergency situations.

“It happens a lot more often than what people think,” said Assistant Fire Chief Tony Campbell. “Animals sometimes get out, but a lot of times they hide in the house. That’s when we have a problem.”

Assistant Chief Jim Blazier remembers opening a closet door in a burning home, only to be startled by a cat that jumped out at him then ran past him to the outside. He added he soon heard cheers from the family that had been concerned about their pet.

Most often, fire departments don’t have the size oxygen masks needed to treat dogs and cats. They instead use a child-size oxygen kit, remove the larger mask from the kit, and hold the end of the hose to the animal’s face.