October 22, 2021

In hope of saving pets

Local firefighter raising money for dog oxygen masks

Photos by Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

State fire instructor Brian Pendell demonstrates a life-saving pet oxygen mask on his dog Quint at the Cortlandville Fire Department on Friday.

CORTLANDVILLE — A lifeless dog rested in the arms of a firefighter, who rushed the helpless animal away from the burning Cortlandville home.

Within seconds of the getting the dog outside, medics and the Cortland County Sheriff’s Department went to work to revive the dog using a resuscitation mask designed specifically for dogs.

While the dog died, the mask — which seals around the dog’s snout, pumping oxygen into its system to flush toxins out — gave it a fighting chance for recovery.

The Cortlandville Fire Department is one of few first responders in the area to have the special mask.

Brian Pendell, assistant fire chief for the Cortlandville Fire Department, wants to change that.

A picture of the medics and officers using the mask on the dog went viral, leading to Pendell’s and Cortlandville Fire Commissioner Kevin Whitney’s phones being filled with questions of where to get one.

“It really picked up steam after the June (22) fire,” Pendell said.

The Cortlandville Fire Department’s kit, donated by the Golden Retriever Rescue of Central New York in March, includes three sizes of masks. They could also be used on other animals like cats, birds and chinchillas. Like human oxygen masks, the dog masks allow for oxygen tanks to be hooked up to them and bag valves that allow someone to manually pump oxygen into the mask.

“We never before had the ability to force respiration into a dog,” Pendell said. Human oxygen masks won’t seal around a dog’s snout.

Pendell’s goal is to have kits of the three mask sizes and the bag valves in every fire department in the county and neighboring counties, along with all ambulances, the Cortland County Sheriff’s Office and the Cortland City Police Department.

To reach it, he started a GoFundMe.com web page to help buy at least 50 masks. With each kit projected to cost $100, his goal is to get $5,000.

The Cortlandville Fire Department’s kit, donated by the Golden Retriever Rescue of Central New York, includes three sizes of masks.

He’s raised close to $500 in about two weeks. But he was hoping to be closer to his goal by now.

“I honestly thought with the amount of interest in them (the masks), the $5,000 would be raised in a week,” Pendell said.

However, he understands there are a lot of people looking to raise money for various causes.

He would like to get the masks, train first responders on how to use them and hand them out.

Being a dog owner himself, the cause is personal to him. But also just about every time there is a fire, he said, a pet is involved.

“Sadly, the outcome is not usually favorable,” Pendell said.

Other than fires, Capt. Rob Derksen with the sheriff’s office said officers also deal with situations like a dog being hit by a car or shot.

One main reason he would like to see the sheriff’s office get the masks is it has two canine units that would benefit from them in emergencies. Pendell hopes to be closer to his goal of $5,000 by the end of the month. If people don’t feel comfortable donating through the GoFundMe page — gofundme.com/pets-masks-for-emergency-services — he said people can send a check for the masks to the Cortlandville Fire Department.

“Either you grow up in a family with pets or you’re an owner of one, or you appreciate other people’s pets,” Pendell said.