Flathead Shelter Friends are teaming up with fire departments across the valley to save pets’ lives. On June 18, the nonprofit group donated two oxygen mask kits made specifically for domestic pets. Now, a private donation will enable the group to buy two-dozen more kits, enough for every fire department in the area.
Volunteer Angie McCrorie approached the Flathead Shelter Friends’ board earlier this spring with the idea of helping fire departments acquire the oxygen kits. Each one costs $61.
“Pets are part of your family and often in a fire, they will run and hide and succumb to smoke,” she said.
The nonprofit group was established nearly a decade ago to support the Flathead County Animal Shelter. According to president Karen Burkett, the group’s primary goal is to financially support the local shelter in Kalispell. However, when McCrorie came up with the idea of supplying oxygen masks to local fire departments, the board quickly got behind it.
“If you are an animal owner, like many people here in the valley, one of your biggest fears is what happens if there is a fire at your house,” Burkett said. “Animals need oxygen just like humans.”
With board approval, McCrorie reached out to local veterinarians and the Whitefish Animal Hospital, which provided the oxygen kits at a reduced cost. The group donated the first two kits to the Kalispell Fire Department on June 18, and McCrorie was able to order five more thanks to donations from the Central Valley Animal Hospital, Calm Animal Care, Countryside Animal Clinic, Dr. Kate List and McCrorie Heating & Cooling, Inc.
In late June, Barbara Gilbertson and Robert Barron of Kalispell donated $1,700 to the oxygen mask program. McCrorie said that will be enough to purchase 27 more kits, which will provide two masks for each department.
“This donation will provide the valley with the kits we need,” she said.
The masks fit an animal’s nose and have a rubber gasket that creates a seal. The regular kit comes with small, medium and large masks to fit a variety of animals, including cats, dogs and even birds.
For more information about Flathead Shelter Friends and the oxygen mask program, visit www.flatheadshelterfriends.com. You can also call McCrorie at (406) 261-7978.
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