Sister Lakes follows Edwardsburg and other larger cities like Chicago as it is now prepared with equipment to save family pets from house fires. (Submitted photo)
Sister Lakes follows Edwardsburg and other larger cities like Chicago as it is now prepared with equipment to save family pets from house fires. (Submitted photo)

Archived Story

Donation will help save pets from fire in Sister Lakes

Published 5:32pm Monday, June 30, 2014

SISTER LAKES, Mich. — On June 26, of Sister Lakes Fire Department will become some of the best-equipped in the nation to save a pet’s life. David Visser of Center for Animal Health in Edwardsburg and the Invisible Fence Company of Southwest Michigan are donating a total of four pet oxygen mask kits to the fire department.

This donation is just a small part of Invisible Fence Brand’s Project Breathe program, which was established with the goal of equipping every fire station in America and Canada with pet oxygen masks in partnership with local veterinarians. These masks allow firefighters to give oxygen to pets that are suffering from smoke inhalation when they are rescued from fires. The masks often save pets’ lives.

Invisible Fence Brand has donated a total of more than 10,000 pet oxygen masks to fire stations all over the U.S. and Canada throughout the life of the program.

Visser and Center for Animal Health had coordinated one of those mask donations to the Edwardsburg Fire Department in 2010. An Edwardsburg dog was saved from a house fire in March 201, and revived using the oxygen mask donated by Visser’s pet hospital.

“When a family suffers the tragedy of a fire, lives are turned upside down,” said Shanna Hubbard of Invisible Fence of Southwest Michigan. “Pets are valued family members, so we want families to know that their pet can be cared for if tragedy strikes.”

“We realize that humans are the first-priority, but in many cases, pets can be saved if firefighters have the right equipment,” Hubbard said. “The Project Breathe Program is simply a way of giving firefighters the tools necessary to save pets’ lives.”

Sister Lakes is now joining Edwardsburg and the ranks of cities like Chicago, Cleveland and Memphis, who have all received donated pet oxygen masks from the Project Breathe program.

“Thank God they had the mask. Dogs and cats are part of the family and I don’t know what these grateful folks would do without their beloved dog. Things can be replaced. Lives can’t, whether they’re animals or people,” Visser said, regarding the family whose dog was rescued using the donated masks.

Although the number of pets that die in fires is not an official statistic kept by the U.S. Fire Administration, industry websites and sources have cited an estimated 40,000 to 150,000 pets die in fires each year, most succumbing to smoke inhalation. In most states, emergency responders are unequipped to deal with the crisis. The loss is terrible for the family and heart wrenching for firefighters.

“These masks truly are blessings for the greater Sister Lakes area,” said Assistant Chief Anthony Stewart of Sister Lakes Fire Department. “We’ve seen residents run back into burning homes to save a pet. It’s understandable, but extremely dangerous. These masks will give residents comfort in knowing that we can save their pets if they are suffering from smoke inhalation.”

The company has set up a website,, where people or companies can support the effort.

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