KINGSTON – New life-saving equipment was handed out to some area fire departments Saturday by members of a Scout troop, but it was no run-of-the-mill troop that raised the money for the project, and it wasn't ordinary oxygen masks that were distributed.
Members of Wyoming Valley Dog Squad Troop 221 of Dog Scouts of America were at the Kingston Fire Department to distribute pet oxygen masks.
Troop leader Phyllis Sinavage said the troop raised close to $4,000 to purchase 38 oxygen mask kits, at $68 each, for area departments that requested them, and she expects more Luzerne County departments will ask for a kit when word about their availability gets out.
Fire Capt. Jeff Beisel said he was happy to accept a resuscitation kit on behalf of the Shavertown Fire Department because some people feel that their animals are … family members, and we feel it's necessary to save their lives as well as the people who live in the house.
The oxygen masks will improve the chances that an animal that suffered smoke inhalation will survive, said Beisel, because the pet can properly be administered oxygen at the scene of a fire rather than experience a delay in treatment with a trip to an animal hospital.
Sinavage said she shared her idea for this fundraiser with fellow troop members after a friend, who is a firefighter, told her about a kitten he found in a burning house. He tried to save its life using an oxygen mask designed for humans. The mask was too large and, although he took the kitten to the Plains Animal Hospital, it didn't survive, she said.
The kits distributed to fire departments have three masks – one for large dogs, one for medium-size dogs and one for cats and small dogs.
The troop began fundraising before Halloween, selling frozen pies and cookie dough and awarding Pet Oxygen Mask Angel certificates to people who donated the cost of a kit. The goal was to buy 21 kits; the troop raised enough for 35. The fundraising will continue, as there are about 200 fire departments in Luzerne County.
Sinavage and assistant troop leader Mary Perrego decided to start the troop after a friend, Liza Roper, heard about Dog Scouts and shared the information with them.
Perrego said the mission of Dog Scouts is to improve the lives of dogs, their owners and society through humane education, positive training and community service. The troop meets monthly and offers training workshops that allow dogs to earn badges in a variety of areas such as basic obedience, therapy and even painting.
We want to get kids involved, too, said Roper, troop treasurer. Their dogs can earn junior scout badges.
Perrego, a professional dog trainer, said the program gives dogs that don't socialize much an opportunity to do so. People shouldn't be afraid to bring their timid dog to a meeting, she said, as troop leaders can help to acclimate the dog with other dogs in a controlled, relaxed environment.
Checks made out to the nonprofit Wyoming Valley Dog Squad can be mailed to 135 Page Ave., Kingston, PA 18704. All proceeds will be used to purchase pet oxygen mask kits.
ABOUT DOG SCOUTS
The troop next meets at 4 p.m. Jan. 7 at the Kingston Fire Hall, 600 Wyoming Ave., Kingston. Learn more about Dog Scouts of America at www.dogscouts.org.