Glendale firefighters save dogs using FIDO bags

Aug 3, 2012

Phoenix 12 News | azcentral.com 

 

GLENDALE, AZ - The adult female pit bull trapped in an apartment fire was near death when firefighters pulled her from the building.

But responders were able to revive the pet using a resuscitation device for animals.

Such rescues depend on donations to provide the resuscitation kits, called FIDO Bags.

FIDO Bags, which contain medical equipment such as specialized oxygen masks to fit muzzles, have saved the lives of dozens of animals that have been injured in fires after being put into service in 2007, according to the Glendale Fire Department.

The packs were created by Glendale Fire deputy chief Elio Pompa and were initially funded by a $4,000 grant from the Sun Valley Animal Shelter five years ago, fire spokesman Michael Young said.

Glendale's FIDO Bags will be replenished with a donation from the Fetch Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Scottsdale resident Marie Peck.

"I talked with the Glendale Fire Department, and they were thrilled we would be able to help them out," Peck said. "They are the ones who first started the program so I don't ever want them to have to worry about that."

This month, the foundation will replace the equipment in the bags such as oxygen masks and tubes at Glendale fire stations. Restocking the essential equipment and allowing the fire department to provide the first-aid materials, such as saline and bandages, saves the non-profit foundation money, she said.

A new FIDO Bag costs about $225. Firefighters consider the FIDO Bags a necessity, Young said.

"People hold their pets very near and dear to them and because so many households have pets it's important for us to have the equipment to save them," he said.

Young estimated that Glendale firefighters save about 10 animals from fire-related deaths each year.

Peck started the Fetch Foundation in February 2010 after working with animal shelters for many years. Her work with local firefighters inspired her to start the FIDO Bag program.

Since the FIDO Bag program was started in Glendale , the Fetch Foundation continued to help fund the program for several other fire departments and Search and Rescue teams throughout the Valley and the nation, including stations in California and New York, Peck said.

When a fire station receives a FIDO Bag donation, the firefighters are trained by a veterinarian on how to use the equipment. Rescuers are taught how to administer oxygen and lifesaving drugs to animals and how to perform first aid for injuries, Peck said.

Several veterinarians around the Valley donate their time to help teach firefighters about animal first aid, she said.

The Tempe, Surprise and Gilbert fire departments have been stocked with FIDO Bags and trained to use them, she said. The foundation is planning to donate 33 FIDO Bags and a training session to the Mesa Fire Department on Saturday, she said.

She said she hopes to eventually have enough money and resources to stock the entire Phoenix Fire Department.

Since it was founded, donations for the foundation have grown tremendously. Donations last year were up from $26,000 in 2010 to $90,000 in 2011, Peck said.

"We're trying desperately to blanket this equipment across the Valley," she said. "More people are realizing that this is such an important cause."

How to help

Donations to the Fetch Foundation can be made by calling 602-617-2656, visiting www.thefetchfoundation.com/donations.html or mailing 33739 N. Scottsdale Road #101, Scottsdale, AZ 85266.

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