Aberdeen Girl Scout donates oxygen masks for animals
ABERDEEN (AP) -- Aberdeen Fire and Rescue now has the equipment to save pets who have inhaled too much smoke thanks to the efforts of a local Girl Scout.
Sabrina Mount, 18, who has been a member of the Girl Scouts for 12 years as part of Troop 40124, donated three oxygen mask kits to Aberdeen Fire and Rescue, as part of Mount's gold award project, the highest honor a Girl Scout can receive. The masks are designed specifically for animals.
She knew Aberdeen Fire and Rescue had oxygen masks for humans, but they couldn't be used on pets.
"They don't fit around the muzzle, and they don't provide an adequate flow of oxygen, so smoke could still be in their lungs," she said.
Fire Chief Kevin VanMeter said he has seen firefighters perform CPR on a pet, but he's never seen anyone attempt to get an oxygen mask on a pet because it wouldn't fit.
Mount's project had personal meaning. She grew up with a tabby cat named Lord Alfred Tennyson, who died of natural causes last year.
"If I would have lost him and learned there was something that could have prevented his loss, I'd want that available," Mount said.
Many people throughout Aberdeen would agree with her, VanMeter said.
"In a lot of cases, pets are a part of the family and people want us to save them as much as anyone else," he said. "I myself feel the same way. I have two dogs, and I'd feel terrible if something were to happen to them."
The kits she gave to the department come with oxygen masks in several sizes, so they can be used on large dogs, small dogs, cats and even hamsters, Mount said.
Each kit cost about $300, including shipping and taxes, Mount said. She managed to collect about $1,000, thanks to donations from local businesses.
Mount, a graduate of Aberdeen Roncalli High School, learned these masks existed when her mother, Laura, saw them in a magazine story.
Three fire trucks, one in each station, have been been outfitted with the oxygen mask kits, VanMeter said.
Mount's project is good for the entire community, he said.
"I think it will benefit the city of Aberdeen because we will be able to do a little bit more to save pets," VanMeter said.
Mount also worked with the fire department during National Night Out on Aug. 4 and handed out flyers on pet safety, VanMeter said.
Mount said handing out the flyers was part of her project, which requires an educational aspect.
She began the project in May, after talking to then-Fire Chief Bill Winter, who retired in June. Mount said she spent at least 80 hours since July working on this project, a requirement for the gold award.
Marilyn Kohles, her troop leader, is proud of Mount's commitment to the Girl Scouts and the community. Mount, a freshman at Northern State University, has always followed through on her work, Kohles said.
It is rare for a Scout to graduate high school and still work on getting her gold award, Kohles said. Many lose interest as they enter high school and make it a low priority, but not Mount, Kohles said.