CASSADAGA – Gordie, a 3-year-old pug-bulldog, is lucky to be alive. Caring firefighters, EMTs and a purchase by the Cassadaga Fire Auxiliary all contributed to the happy outcome.
On Feb. 15, the Head family’s home at 7 Pine Acres suffered smoke and water damage as a result of a fire triggered by spontaneous combustion of cleaning rags. The family was away at the time, but their three pets, a cat and two dogs, were in the house. Sinclairville Fire Department responded to the fire, while Cassadaga assisted.
The EMTs resuscitated the two dogs using pet masks that connect to oxygen. These masks were purchased by the Cassadaga Fire Auxiliary last spring. The Cassadaga Fire Department has a variety of sizes ranging from the smallest, which is used for cats, to larger ones used for larger dogs.
EMS captain Laura Logan explained, “These are used the same way that oxygen masks are used for people.”
Teela Nace, an EMT from the Sinclairville Fire Department, said, “We checked the directions that came with the masks just to make sure we were doing it right, and we were.”
Joe McKenna, the second assistant fire chief in Sinclairville, was the commander on site the day of the fire. He noted at the time of the fire, the family was not at home.
David Muscato, Cassadaga Fire Chief, said firefighters do try to rescue pets in an emergency. “People first, pets second,” he stressed.
Muscato said in his 30 years with the fire department, he doesn’t remember an animal rescue like this. “But then we just got the equipment so we may be able to save more animals in the future,” he said.
Logan and Nace said that the masks can be reused but must be cleaned and sterilized.
JoAnna Head, the mother of the Head family, explained that the other dog had to be put down. Although he was alive, he didn’t have a good quality of life.
Bob Head, JoAnna’s husband, noted, “At least we gave it a shot.”
Gordie suffered some visual impairment and lung damage. He also is exhibiting some anxiety, walking from room to room which JoAnna said he had never done. However, he remains a very friendly dog, and is well-loved by the family. They are hoping that as things settle down, the anxiety will lessen.
The Head family is staying with JoAnna’s sister in Brocton.
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