Pets Need Oxygen, Too
You may be 11 years old, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take on a project that makes a difference. Rylee Hoyem, of the Wilsall Wranglers 4-H Club, is working to equip and train fire departments in Park County in the use of oxygen masks for pets. Pets are often left alone in the home, and firefighters may find them
You may be 11 years old, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take on a project that makes a difference. Rylee Hoyem, of the Wilsall Wranglers 4-H Club, is working to equip and train fire departments in Park County in the use of oxygen masks for pets. Pets are often left alone in the home, and firefighters may find them suffering from smoke inhalation. Human safety always comes first, but giving high concentration oxygen early can be a lifesaver for dogs, cats – even ferrets.
Since animal noses are shaped differently than ours, oxygen masks for humans don’t work as well on pets. Special masks made for pets create a better seal and can force oxygen flow into an unconscious animal’s nose, if necessary. But not all fire departments are equipped with these pet life-savers.
Rylee, whose dad is the assistant fire chief in Wilsall, has helped out around the firehouse quite a bit, so when she was considering ideas for a 4-H community service project, pet oxygen masks were a natural choice. Sue Scott, EMS coordinator for the fire department said Rylee has learned all about the special masks and has demonstrated how they work to firefighters and others. Before fundraising, Rylee sent letters to fire chiefs for their permission to undertake the project. She then contacted groups who might send donations. Local printing businesses donated brochures and posters to help out.
Now Rylee has done presentations about pet oxygen masks at the Park County Fair and she has gotten plenty of experience explaining them to the media. She fitted coffee cans with signs and put them in area businesses for donations. As of April, she had collected $235, and she plans to collect enough to equip all seven fire departments in Park County by the end of the year. What’s in it for Rylee? “I’ve gone into places I’ve never been before and I’m more willing to do things for the community,” she said.
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4-H is open to all youth ages 6-19 years of age regardless of where you live. Six to eight year olds can also join as Cloverbuds to explore the variety of programs available in 4-H while having fun in a non-competitive environment. Nine to 19 year olds can enroll in specific projects like woodworking, sewing, dog, robotics, or other projects and exhibit what they've created at the county and state level. 4-H has so many amazing opportunities for youth, so click on your county below to find the local MSU Extension Office where you can sign up today!