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After dog survives home explosion, pet owner donates $1,045 for animal oxygen masks

The oxygen mask on Wrigley, above, is designed for animals. It works better than one used for people, below.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

The oxygen mask on Wrigley, above, is designed for animals. It works better than one used for people, below.

The windows of the Curlew Hills Funeral Home shook when a Dunedin house exploded Feb. 11, taking the staff and Keenan Knopke, president and CEO, by surprise.

When Knopke found out that Jingles, a 40-pound American Eskimo dog, was badly injured in the blast — and was treated and possibly saved by a pet oxygen mask — he wanted to help out.

So he walked into the Suncoast Animal League's office in Palm Harbor and handed the manager a check for enough money to buy 45 animal masks.

The cost: $1,050.

"I think it was incredible,'' said Rick Chaboudy, executive director and co-founder of the league. "He didn't want to make a big deal about it. He handed the check to Denise Eberius, our office manager. She was about to cry. She walked over to me and showed me the check and I got teary-eyed.''

Each set costs $70 and consists of a small, medium and large mask. They can fit a small cat to a very large dog. And unlike human oxygen masks, pet masks can be reused.

Knopke made the donation because he loves animals.

He owns five cats, Ophie, Calypso, Mika, Spaz and Stella; one dog, Maddie, a 4-month-old dachshund; and a 20-year-old parrot named Pretty Bird, who Knopke said "can bark like a dog and meow like a kitty.''

About the pet oxygen masks, Knopke said he has only one request.

"My requirement is that they be used in Upper Pinellas and South Pasco because that's our neighborhood,'' he said.

As for Jingles, he remains in the intensive care unit at Florida Veterinary Specialists in Tampa, where the staff said he is stable and comfortable. The dog underwent surgery Thursday and walked for the first time Friday with the aid of a special sling.

Eileen Schulte can be reached at schulte@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4153.

After dog survives home explosion, pet owner donates $1,045 for animal oxygen masks 02/20/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 20, 2009 10:08pm]
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