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Special oxygen masks save three dogs from San Antonio house fire

SAN ANTONIO — Three lifeless dogs found in a burning home Monday were revived after firefighters used special oxygen masks to restart their breathing.

Little Jack, a Jack Russell terrier; R.J., a Shar Pei; and Peewee, a terrier, were removed from a smoke-filled home at 31836 State Road 52 about noon, Pasco Fire Rescue Chief Duncan Hitchcock said. The dogs weren't breathing and had no heartbeat.

Using masks donated to the county in August, paramedics were able to resuscitate the dogs. All three were taken to San Antonio Animal Hospital and are expected to fully recover.

No one was home during the fire, which caused $30,000 in damage. Reached Monday as he went through the wreckage, Eugene "Sonny" Storch, 71, said he believed his water heater sparked the fire.

Typical oxygen masks, which are designed to push air into the mouth, fit best on people, Hitchcock said. But the special masks, donated by the Suncoast Animal League based in Palm Harbor, are a better fit for animals that mostly breathe with their nose. The masks, which are cone-shaped and wrap snugly around the snout, have been used on dogs, cats and small birds.

Pasco County rescuers have about 30 of the masks, which are distributed to each fire engine and rescue unit. Each mask costs about $70.

Contact Drew Harwell at or (727) 869-6244.

Special oxygen masks save three dogs from San Antonio house fire 06/07/10 [Last modified: Monday, June 7, 2010 5:38pm]
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