FIDO bags help furry friends

May 27, 2016

Albany TimesUnion



EMT and K-9 handler Jerry Shaw, with Vader and Latham Fire Department chief Kevin Fronk, accept donated FIDO bags (companion animal fire oxygen rescue kits) from Upstate Veterinary Specialties.  Upstate Veterinary Specialities’ new office is more pet-themed resort than animal hospital.

The 23,000-square-foot primary care clinic for furry friends at 152 Sparrowbush Road opened in December and offers 24-hour emergency services. With 20 veterinarians addressing specific needs like heart disease, cancer and rehabilitation, it’s the only facility of its kind in the area.

The Latham practice prides itself on providing the same level of care for animals that their human companions receive. That’s why it teamed up with the nonprofit Fetch Foundation to get lifesaving FIDO bags (companion animal fire oxygen rescue kits) in the hands of local firefighters.

“Our goal is to donate these rescue kits to local fire departments regularly throughout the year,” said Andie Furda, outreach administrator at Upstate Veterinary Specialities. “Emergencies like house fires impact not just people, but their pets as well.”

After escaping a fire, the first thing family members on two and four legs need is oxygen. Fire departments are equipped to help people, and oxygen masks are often too flat and small to fit the face of a pet.

FIDO bags fill the needs of animals with a specialized breathing apparatus. The cone-shaped oxygen mask provides a secure seal around a pet’s muzzle. Kits also come with specialized burn sheets, bandages, rinsing saline, protective restraints and a collapsible water dish.

Upstate Veterinary Specialities donated FIDO bags to fire departments in Loudonville and Saratoga Springs late last year. Earlier this month, donations were made to the Northside Fire District’s F.B. Peck Hose Company and the Latham Volunteer Fire Department.

Furda is working to coordinate a donation on July 15 to the Verdoy Volunteer Fire Department, to coincide with National Pet Fire Rescue Day.

“Verdoy would respond to us in the case of a fire, which makes the donation even more meaningful,” Furda said.

In addition to FIDO bag donations, the practice provides additional services to four-legged first responders and service animals. Principal Aaron Wey established the Angel Fund when he opened the practice in 2003. Administered with help from the nonprofit Veterinary Care Foundation, the fund collects donations used in situations where clients and patients are victims of house fires, have experienced great loss or in cases of neglect and abuse.

Ophthalmologist Christa Corbett has been busy donating her time and expertise this month as part of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists StokesRx Service Animal Eye Exam event, where eligible service animals receive free ocular screenings. For information, click here.

Vader, a service dog from the Latham Fire Department, received his free eye exam at the clinic on Wednesday. The German shepherd was on hand when Upstate Veterinary Specialities donated two FIDO bags to his department.

“We want to make sure these working animals are healthy and able to serve and do what they do best,” Furda said. “It’s amazing what gifts people and animals have to bring to our community.”

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