PITTSBURG — Two children had a question for their mother, how do firefighters help pets after a fire?
Their mother, Sammie Brueggemann said her daughters — 11-year-old Natalie and nine-year-old Naomi — started thinking about what happens to pets during a fire after placing a sticker on their door, which is to let firefighters know there are animals inside.
The family itself has three dogs and four cats.
The girls’ mother didn’t know the best answer so she did some research to find out. After browsing on the internet she learned about Invisible Fence’s Breathe Project, which donates pet oxygen masks to fire stations.
She explained her findings to her children and the girls decided they wanted to bring the masks to their local fire department.
“She said, if we don’t do it, who will,” Sammie Brueggemann said.
The girls said they were happy to bring the masks to the attention of the fire department and plan on contacting other southeast Kansas fire departments.
“We enjoy it because it could help,” Natalie said. “We have our own pets and we like helping animals.”
“I really like animals so I really want to help,” she said.
The girls have even memorized facts on pets and fires, for example, “40,000 to 150,000 pets die from inhaling smoke across the United States,” the girls said almost unanimously.
So their mother sent an email to the City of Pittsburg Fire Department and they responded the same day and signed up to receive the donation.
On Wednesday, Invisible Fence Owner Beth Ericson and her helper — a Golden Retriever named Gin — drove from Wichita to drop off the masks. She said in the past 15 years the masks have helped save 10,000 animals. The masks are free, she said, all the fire departments have to do is apply.
Three kits, with small, medium and large sized masks will be given to each fire station in Pittsburg. The masks can be washed with soap and be reused.
Fire Marshal Thomas Vacca said it is devastating for families to not only lose their home, but their pet too. The masks, he said, could help save pets.
“We do our best to preserve their life and property the best we can,” he said.
The firefighters can now use a mask, which fis animals properly, allowing them to better care for pets that inhale smoke.
Vacca, on behalf of the department thanked the children for bringing the masks and gave them a tour of the fire department.
“They were willing to help the community with the masks,” Vacca said. “It is amazing, the thought and compassion they have for people in Pittsburg.”
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.