Andover firefighters long have had the ability to offer oxygen to people at the scene of a fire.
Now they can do the same for dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits and other four-legged friends of homeowners.
Thanks to a recent donation to the Andover Fire Rescue Department, starting next month all three fire stations will be equipped with oxygen mask sets for animals. The masks were donated by the Main Street Animal Hospital in Salem, N.H.
"It's just another service we'll be able to provide to the community if the situation arises, and at no cost," said Andover fire Chief Michael Mansfield. "Now we have something that's designed specifically to begin the treatment process for these pets before we get someone to transport them to the animal hospital."
According to Dr. Kimberly Wadsworth, a member of the Andover Animal Hospital staff, the ability to begin treatment for smoke inhalation at the site of a fire will increase the chances for pets' survival.
"The faster you can get it into them, the better the outcome you're going to have," said Wadsworth of the oxygen, which is delivered at a rate of one to two liters per minute. "You want as tight a seal as possible so that you're not having oxygen leaking out of the sides."
Andover Fire Rescue received three sets of masks. In all, 20 sets were distributed to area fire departments as part of the hospital's annual fundraiser.
Mansfield said each set includes three different sizes of oxygen masks. The equipment, manufactured by a New Zealand-based company, can be used on a variety of animals.
"They all have different snout sizes," said Mansfield. "They can be used for just about any sized animal, as long as the animal is tolerant to have its nose put in the cup to breathe the oxygen."