Daily Journal staff report

KANKAKEE — The Kankakee Fire Department now is equipped with life-saving oxygen masks for pets.

The department received a donation of five kits on Tuesday from Invisible Fence, which has donated more than 25,000 kits since 2006 through its Project Breathe program.

“I have two sons who own dogs,” Kankakee Fire Chief Damon Schuldt said. “Like a lot of people, their pets are like part of the family. Saving pets is certainly within the realm of what we do. These oxygen masks will provide vital support for pet resuscitation efforts.”

Schuldt said firefighters have performed CPR on animals found in structure fires in the past. One such incident came in July 2018, when Kankakee firefighters pulled five dogs from a house fire in the 900 block of South Sixth Avenue. Four of the five dogs perished.

Each year, it’s estimated that between 40,000 and 50,000 pets die in fires, most succumbing to smoke inhalation. That’s a number the Project Breathe program hopes to decrease.

“The Project Breathe Program goal is simple,” Ed Hoyt, director of Invisible Fence, said in a news release. “We want to ensure that every fire department and rescue unit across the U.S. and Canada are equipped with life-saving pet oxygen masks.”

It’s a goal that’s being appreciated here in Kankakee.

“Our pets are dear to us, and we would like to thank Invisible Fence for their generous donation to our city,” Kankakee Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong said in a news release.

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