“We had just had puppies three days earlier, so we went from three dogs to nine,” Anderson said. “When I got there, I was frantically trying to figure out which ones were out, which were still alive and which were gone forever.”
Unfortunately, of his nine dogs, only one, Ozzie, the 3-year-old pug, survived. And according to Duluth Veterinary Hospital vet Kristin Dank, he only lived thanks to the rapid action of firefighters on the scene and the pet-sized oxygen masks recently donated to the department.
Coralie Anderson’s dog, Ozzie, returned to his usual state on September 30 after surviving a house fire on September 17. Ozzie survived on oxygen administered by Duluth firefighters at the scene. Teri Cadeau / Duluth News Tribune
“He was doing agonal breathing, which are the gasping breaths that are taken while an animal is actively dying,” Dank said. “They gave him oxygen right away. If he hadn’t been given oxygen, he probably would have been successful. It was essential that he get that oxygen right away and that he had a mask that fitted him well meant he had the oxygen he needed to live. “
In 2014, the Duluth and Hermantown Fire Departments applied for a grant to obtain animal oxygen masks for the services.
Since then, the need for animal care equipment and supplies has grown steadily. In 2018, firefighters began rolling out better-equipped animal rescue kits on all platforms. In the fall of that year, all members received training in the medical treatment of animals. Since then, firefighter Tony Schilling has estimated that hundreds of pets have been saved from structural fires, car crashes and other emergency incidents.
Duluth Veterinary Hospital Director Denise Fish presents Duluth Fire Department firefighter Tony Schilling with a donation of oxygen masks and other medical supplies to help animals rescued from emergencies. Duluth Veterinary Hospital has partnered with DFD to help save animals’ lives. Teri Cadeau / Duluth News Tribune
In 2021 alone, the department responded to a higher number of service calls involving pets in need of medical treatment like Ozzie.
“Animal rescues are a higher percentage than humans when responding to structural fires because people can usually cope on their own,” Schilling said. “Saving pets has always been a priority for us. Until recently, we didn’t have the equipment or the training to treat animals. With companies like Duluth Veterinary Hospital taking action. are activating to donate the equipment, supplies and training we need, we can provide better service to the public.
Duluth Veterinary Hospital recently donated various sized oxygen masks, leashes and medical supplies to fill animal rescue kits. Staff at Duluth Veterinary Hospital will also provide medical training to firefighters to prepare them for service calls involving pets.
Ozzie has been home with his family for about a week now. Anderson said he was “back to his normal, wild state.”