Saving the Lives of Florida Pets

WEST PALM BEACH — On Nov. 16, Lisa Murray was out Christmas shopping when she received a call from a neighbor that made her heart stop.

Her home in Royal Palm Beach was on fire. It had started in a car and spread to her house.

Within five minutes, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue was on the scene, Murray said. Crews saved two of her five dogs. One was Rocky, her 16-year-old black and gray Chihuahua.

Rocky was given “mouth-to-snout” resuscitation and an oxygen mask to help him breathe, she said.

“We were incredibly grateful beyond words,” Murray said.

Rocky’s story is living proof of why pet owners need to think about their animals’ safety in the event of a fire, officials said Thursday as they unveiled Palm Beach County’s “Save Our Pets” campaign at Animal Care and Control’s headquarters in suburban West Palm Beach. The campaign is a joint initiative by Palm Beach County Fire Rescue and Animal Care and Control.

The nonprofit Community Assistance Benefit Corp. donated 100,000 red-and-black stickers pet owners can place on the doors of their homes, said County Commissioner Mary Lou Berger, D-Boca Raton. The stickers have an image of a dog and a cat in the middle and space to write-in the number of pets living at a residence. In the event of a fire, the sticker alerts firefighters that pets may be in need of rescue.

The Hometown Foundation and Rescue Life, two other nonprofits, also are donating 120 pet oxygen masks to Palm Beach County Fire Rescue, so crews can limit the physical damage to animals that may have inhaled smoke and other pollutants a fire releases. Palm Beach County Fire Rescue also offers group classes to help teach people how to perform CPR on their pets.

Lt. Greg Kaplan recalls seeing a red sticker on Murray’s house as it burned in November. He hopes more animals that are trapped in residential fires will be able to live on, just like the 16-year-old chihuahua.

“This is not only to help the community and save lives, but save pet lives,” Kaplan said.

dcassidy@pbpost.com

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