You’re never too young to make a difference

By on October 12, 2012

You’re never too young to make a difference. Just ask 12-year-old Monica Plumb of Powhatan, Virginia.  After reading in her local newspaper about fire fighters using a pet oxygen mask to save the life of a dog in a house fire two years ago, the then-10-year-old did some research and was dismayed to discover that most fire departments across the country lack pet oxygen masks.

With the help of her parents, Monica created the www.petmask.com website and started to raise money to buy pet oxygen masks for fire stations. Thanks to her efforts, about 320 fire stations from Maine to Alaska —plus some in Canada — now carry these specially designed oxygen masks.

“I am an animal lover and care a whole lot about all animals,” declares Monica. “At the time, I was too young to be able to volunteer at my local animal shelter. I wanted to do something to help animals and that’s when I realized I could raise money and awareness about pet oxygen masks.”

Her proud father, William, adds, “Monica surprised my wife Wendy, and me by her determination. We thought she was going to just do this locally for about a month and stop, but she told us she wanted to do more to help pets all over the country. We’re happy to help her.”

Dave Bailey, battalion chief of the Chesterfield Fire Department in Chesterfield, VA., has been a fire fighter for 32 years. His department was among the first to receive pet oxygen masks thanks to the efforts of Monica Plumb.

“We responded to a house fire last year on Christmas Day and were able to revive a large Labrador from one of the pet oxygen masks. There are a lot of deadly toxins present during a structure fire and having the right oxygen mask for family pets is crucial to saving their lives.”

Each pet oxygen mask kit costs about $70 and includes three sizes. Each set can help revive cats, dogs, rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs and even birds.

Monica’s mission is saving the lives of beloved family pets. The U.S. Fire Administration estimates that nearly 100,000 animals die each year in fires, mostly due to inhaling poisonous gases. Earlier this year, a cat suffering from smoke inhalation after an apartment fire in Winnipeg, Manitoba, was revived after receiving a dose of pure oxygen from one of her donated pet masks. In Bonner Springs, Kansas, a cat was rescued from a house fire and resuscitated with a pet mask donated to the fire department.

In Florida, several fire departments in Palm Beach County received donated pet oxygen masks from a fundraising drive sponsored by the Boca Raton Dog Club.

“We’re on a mission to help animals,” says Diane Wagner, president of the Boca Raton Dog Club. “We want our county prepared and we believe strongly that no one — and no pet —should die from smoke inhalation.”

Pets, especially cats, are often more vulnerable to smoke inhalation in house fires because they hide. In addition, human oxygen masks don’t fit properly on their faces. Originally developed for use by veterinarians, this cone-shaped, plastic pet mask forms a seal around an animal’s muzzle to allow firefighters to deliver the right amount of oxygen. The mask also protects firefighters from an injured pet who may try to bite out of fear.

Monica’s future goals include becoming a veterinarian, but she is quickly picking up skills in marketing and sales. If you would like to make a donation and/or become a sponsor for a specific fire station, please contact Monica at sponsorship@petmask.com.  As Monica says, “Every penny counts! I hope to provide pet oxygen masks to every fire station that needs them.”

Monica’s efforts have earned her the 2009 ASPCA “Tommy Monahan” Kid of the Year Award and 2009 United Animal Nations’ Animal Choice Award.

Not bad for a kid who is still a year away from becoming a teenager.

[PUT IN A BOX] Tune in to learn more

Hear more from Monica Plumb as well as fire safety tips from Battalion Chief Dave Bailey by tuning into to Arden Moore’s “Oh Behave” show on Pet Life Radio (www.petliferadio.com) – Episode 119. Click on the “Episode Info” link to see fire fighters using a pet oxygen mask to revive a dog rescued from a house fire.

 

 

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