Pet rescue kits donated to Bozeman Fire Department

Mar 1, 2014

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle

 

BOZEMAN, MT - Every year, dogs and cats die in local house fires, mostly due to smoke inhalation.

Last week, a local family donated pet rescue kits to the Bozeman Fire Department in an effort to save more of the community's four-legged friends.

Kathy and Bob Fletcher, owners of the Cannery and Burger Bob's downtown, and their son Dane Fletcher, who grew up in Bozeman, played football for Montana State University and is now a linebacker for the New England Patriots, have donated half a dozen rescue kits to equip city fire engines.

The kits include pet oxygen masks, burn sheets, bandages, saline and protective restraints.

“We could have used the kit just a couple of weeks ago in a fire,” said Bozeman Fire Department Capt. Kurt Bushnell.

He recalled a house fire where a firefighter carried out a cat from the burning structure. And, at another recent fire, he said a dog was laid out on the lawn in front of the home. At those times, firefighters didn't have specific medical tools to help the animals. And caring for an animal is different than treating a person, Bushnell said.

“Far too often we see animals that are injured, and this is a tool for us to be better at what we do,” Bushnell said. “We take care of people who need help after a fire, and that's what we're trained to do, but pets — we were lacking on what we were able to do to help them.”

Kathy Fletcher said she heard about the rescue kits — called “Fido Bags” — from her friend Marie Peck in Phoenix who founded the nonprofit Fetch Foundation. People can buy kits for fire departments by donating to the foundation online.

“I just thought it was the coolest thing ever,” Kathy said.

Kathy and her family have always been animal advocates, she said. She's training her dog to be a service dog, search and rescue dog and therapy dog.

Kathy said her son Dane donated part of the money to buy the rescue kits for Bozeman firefighters. She said Dane grew up with cows, horses, dogs and cats. Now, he owns an English bulldog named Frankie Capone Fletcher.

“He's a big fan of animals — always has been,” she said.

Bozeman firefighters will get training from local Banfield Pet Hospital veterinarian Cindy Moreaux in “puppy CPR” and how to use the pet rescue kits, Bushnell said. And local veterinarians have agreed to respond to fires to provide backup for pets involved.

Kathy said she hopes to eventually get pet rescue kits for fire departments across Montana.

“This is something I'm very much interested in,” she said. “I've seen how good it is in Phoenix and how great it's working.”

For more information about the Fetch Foundation, visit thefectchfoundation.com.

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