Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) is welcoming the arrival of life-saving oxygen masks for pets, provided by the not-for-profit organisation Smokey Paws.

The specially designed pet oxygen masks are being officially handed over at 2pm on Thursday, 19 November to KFRS’s Faversham-based animal rescue team. They will initially be carried on fire engines in Ash-cum-Ridley, Deal, Faversham and Sittingbourne but it is hoped that masks will eventually be available at all KFRS stations around the county.

Station Manager, Dave Nolan who has been leading the project for KFRS said: “If there’s a fire in your home most of us would try to get out as quickly as possible. While your pet will be just as terrified as you, it’s more likely to run and find a place to hide, so they could potentially be in a smoke filled space for longer.”

In the last 12 months KFRS has attended over 40 fires where dogs and cats were involved, some of which have resulted in the pets being given oxygen.

Dave added: “We know that pets are precious to people and owners often put their own lives at risk to rescue them although we would always advise against returning to any burning building. We are grateful to Smokey Paws for providing this new kit, which will enable us to help pets that need medical attention in the immediate aftermath of a fire.”

Lynn Carberry from Smokey Paws said: “The four sets of masks being given to KFRS are a great start to equipping all of Kent’s fire stations and were made possible from donations from national pet care company, Animals at Home, members of the public and The Domestic Cleaning Alliance.

“The fire service tries hard to revive pets using human oxygen masks but these are not designed for use on animals. The pet oxygen masks are specifically designed for dogs, cats and smaller animals like rabbits, snakes and mice and therefore are more efficient than trying to use human masks.

“We raise the money for the life-saving pet oxygen masks and replacements via public donations and company sponsorship. Everyone can become involved; schools can arrange fundraisers and we are seeking shops willing to take our donation boxes.”

Smokey Paws is actively encouraging members of the public or Kent and Medway businesses to make donations so that these pet oxygen masks are available at fire stations across the county. People can donate via their website