Clermont Fire Department is determined to save as many four-legged lives as possible.

That’s why staff applied for pet oxygen masks from Invisible Fence of Central Florida, a request that was granted Dec. 9 with a special delivery to Station 1.

“Animals tend to hide in a fire and owners can’t always find their pets,” Clermont Fire Chief David Ezell said. “Once our crews locate them, these masks go a long way to giving us the tools we need to be able to revive a pet.”

Clermont Fire received eight reusable mask kits. Each one includes a slip leash to secure the animals and three sizes of masks to rescue a wide range of distressed pets, from rabbits to Rottweilers.

“We’re proud to be able to donate these masks to the department,” Invisible Fence representative Donnie Ray said. “We hope to save some pets’ lives with them.”

More than 40,000 pets die in fires every year, most succumbing to smoke inhalation, according to estimates. Invisible Fence of Central Florida’s Proj

ect Breathe Program started in 2006 to help change that statistic; they’re on a mission to equip every fire department and rescue unit across the U.S. and Canada with masks.

“We understand they are part of the family,” said Ezell, who has two dogs and two cats. “We’re here to take care of our human citizens and our four-legged counterparts. We are excited to receive this installment from Invisible Fence to ensure we have the capability of providing the best care to Clermont’s pets.”

Clermont Fire first received a couple masks from a local veterinarian years ago; Training Capt. Lindsay Judah saw a need for more.

“We want to provide oxygen for an animal like we would a human,” Judah said. “We can use the masks to help see signs of life after smoke inhalation.”

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