When Washington Township firefighter-paramedic Liam Shanahan arrived on the scene of a house fire Feb. 26 just outside Plain City, he said a Pleasant Valley Fire District firefighter ran toward him, asking where the fire department's pet masks were.

Firefighters were attempting to revive two dogs, Shanahan said.

The larger of the two dogs died, but firefighters were able to fit an oxygen mask on the small dog, which regained consciousness and survived, he said.

The Washington Township Fire Department will soon receive the supplies necessary to help save more animals during fire runs.

Six oxygen masks will soon be added to the two already in the township's firefighting and rescue equipment through Project Breathe, a program funded and administered by the Invisible Fence company. The masks are to be donated April 19.

The goal of Project Breathe is to provide a pet oxygen mask kit for every emergency medical service and fire department in the U.S. and Canada, said Paul Schlosser, owner of the Invisible Fence franchises in west Columbus and Dayton.

The company, which is headquartered in Maxville, Tennessee, has donated thousands of kits so far, Schlosser said.

"It's quite a commitment that the brand has made in donating," he said.

Each kit includes hoses and different-sized masks to accommodate dogs and cats, Schlosser said.

Smaller masks could also be used on small animals such as rabbits.

Firefighters could use an oxygen tank to administer oxygen to the animal through provided hoses, or they could hook the mask up to a bag to manually pump air into the mask.

Schlosser said he has provided mask kits to the Dayton and Columbus fire departments. Depending upon the fire department's needs, donations could range in size from a few masks to 50, he said.

Project Breathe began over a decade ago, Schlosser said.

"It just goes hand in hand with our basic principles," he said.

Washington Township firefighter-paramedic Kevin Schultz also helped during the Plain City fire.

Although he said he did not provide assistance to the dogs there, Schultz said he had used similar masks on a run about 10 years ago.

In the 27 years he has served as firefighter, Schultz said he has used pet masks on two runs, but he believes they are vital equipment.

"I think every medic should carry them," he said.

The latest donation will equip at least one truck in each of the department's four stations with a mask so that one is available no matter which station is called on an emergency, said Leslie Dybiec, Washington Township's public information officer.

In 2009, the township received two pet oxygen masks from the sons of Dublin resident Jill Marcinick, who is an alumnus of the township's 2009 Citizens Academy, Dybiec said.

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