Where did the idea for Smokey Paws come from?
Lynn: “My husband and I were talking about fire escape plans for our house and the subject of our dog came up. And I am familiar with the pet oxygen masks as they are used in the USA, (I am from New York) so I mentioned them.
“My husband, Brian, did not feel it was something you had in England I felt he had to be mistaken. So, we visited our local station and they were very receptive so we decided to import a set and donate it to our local station in Weston-Super-Mare.
“After the local papers covered the handover, we were contacted by other members of the public who wanted their local brigade to have the masks as well. So, we started Smokey Paws.”
The mission of Smokey Paws is to equip every first responder in the UK with pet oxygen masks, which means providing the kits for all 3551 fire appliances in the UK. So far, the charity has delivered over 750 units to fire services across the UK.
Smokey Paws has already had a positive effect on the survival rate of pets where the attending fire service had been provided with a pet oxygen mask. The fire appliances that receive the pet oxygen masks are decided through nominations by the public.
Specific pet oxygen masks are needed because; “The human masks are not the correct shape and the animal masks have a conical shape to fit over the snout. The fire service uses the human masks now but they only give the animal about 10-15% of the oxygen, the animal masks give the animal 85-90% oxygen so are much more effective.”
These masks have helped to save the lives of many animals involved in fire related incidents, from two cats involved in a house fire to a two-day old puppy rescued from a barn fire. However, they are not limited to fire related incidents as shown in the case of a pony involved in a road collision being needed to be given oxygen on the scene.
The masks can be used on a range of animals as it comes in three sizes; the largest for dogs, a medium version for cats and little dogs, and the smallest for pets like; rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters.