A fundraising campaign to equip every firehall in B.C. with special oxygen masks for pets is more than halfway to its goal of $25,000 — and Whistler will get a full complement of seven masks for its trucks.
Elisha McCallum is spearheading the drive after her friend Dove Cresswell lost seven dogs and two cats in a house fire in Burnaby earlier this year.
"My good friend (Cresswell) lost her pets... and I'm very much an animal-safety advocate," she said. "I had a pet myself that was killed in a car crash because she wasn't restrained, wasn't in a crate or harness, so I did some safety advocacy around (that)...the theme sort of continued with the tragedy of my friend."
The special masks are designed to fit pets and feature a unique seal to fit animals' nasal and mouth openings that will ensure oxygen is delivered.
Whistler Fire Chief Geoff Playfair said his firefighters will be trained to administer the masks properly.
McCallum said putting a mask on a pet isn't as difficult as some might think.
"What normally happens, unfortunately, when an animal is in a fire setting is they will tend to be more lethargic because there is less oxygen in a smoky building. What happens in some cases is the animals are non-responsive and they need to have oxygen put into their system right away to rejuvenate them."
To raise $15,000 in just a few weeks, McCallum said she is proud of that. "A lot of great things are happening across the province from fire chiefs donating, pet shops, veterinary offices — anyone with anything to do with animals," she said.
McCallum said the need is for 244 masks for B.C. "It is our goal to make sure that every firehall has a set — and every one of their trucks will have that covered by the campaign."
McCallum said donors can go to the donation page at www.happydogslegacy.com. "I recently drove out to Ladner and saw an elderly couple who didn't want to use the Internet, they gave me their donation directly in person," she said. "We would love people to give where they live knowing that those pieces of equipment will benefit their community."