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Rindge

Saving a life, pet by pet

Rindge couple donates pet oxygen masks to Fire Department

  • Wes Wratchford of Rindge with his dog Maddie at the Rindge Fire Station on Thursday. Wratchford and his wife, Sharon, donated two animal resuscitation kits to the Fire Department.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Wes Wratchford of Rindge with his dog Maddie at the Rindge Fire Station on Thursday. Wratchford and his wife, Sharon, donated two animal resuscitation kits to the Fire Department.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Wes Wratchford of Rindge with his dog Maddie at the Rindge Fire Station on Thursday. Wratchford and his wife, Sharon, donated two animal resuscitation kits to the Fire Department.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Wes Wratchford of Rindge with his dog Maddie at the Rindge Fire Station on Thursday. Wratchford and his wife, Sharon, donated two animal resuscitation kits to the Fire Department.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Wes Wratchford of Rindge with his dog Maddie at the Rindge Fire Station on Thursday. Wratchford and his wife, Sharon, donated two animal resuscitation kits to the Fire Department.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Wes Wratchford of Rindge with his dog Maddie at the Rindge Fire Station on Thursday. Wratchford and his wife, Sharon, donated two animal resuscitation kits to the Fire Department.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Wes Wratchford of Rindge with his dog Maddie at the Rindge Fire Station on Thursday. Wratchford and his wife, Sharon, donated two animal resuscitation kits to the Fire Department.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Wes Wratchford of Rindge with his dog Maddie at the Rindge Fire Station on Thursday. Wratchford and his wife, Sharon, donated two animal resuscitation kits to the Fire Department.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Wes Wratchford of Rindge with his dog Maddie at the Rindge Fire Station on Thursday. Wratchford and his wife, Sharon, donated two animal resuscitation kits to the Fire Department.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Wes Wratchford of Rindge with his dog Maddie at the Rindge Fire Station on Thursday. Wratchford and his wife, Sharon, donated two animal resuscitation kits to the Fire Department.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Wes Wratchford of Rindge with his dog Maddie at the Rindge Fire Station on Thursday. Wratchford and his wife, Sharon, donated two animal resuscitation kits to the Fire Department.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Wes Wratchford of Rindge with his dog Maddie at the Rindge Fire Station on Thursday. Wratchford and his wife, Sharon, donated two animal resuscitation kits to the Fire Department.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Wes Wratchford of Rindge with his dog Maddie at the Rindge Fire Station on Thursday. Wratchford and his wife, Sharon, donated two animal resuscitation kits to the Fire Department.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Wes Wratchford of Rindge with his dog Maddie at the Rindge Fire Station on Thursday. Wratchford and his wife, Sharon, donated two animal resuscitation kits to the Fire Department.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Wes Wratchford of Rindge with his dog Maddie at the Rindge Fire Station on Thursday. Wratchford and his wife, Sharon, donated two animal resuscitation kits to the Fire Department.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Wes Wratchford of Rindge with his dog Maddie at the Rindge Fire Station on Thursday. Wratchford and his wife, Sharon, donated two animal resuscitation kits to the Fire Department.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Wes Wratchford of Rindge with his dog Maddie at the Rindge Fire Station on Thursday. Wratchford and his wife, Sharon, donated two animal resuscitation kits to the Fire Department.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Wes Wratchford of Rindge with his dog Maddie at the Rindge Fire Station on Thursday. Wratchford and his wife, Sharon, donated two animal resuscitation kits to the Fire Department.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Wes Wratchford of Rindge with his dog Maddie at the Rindge Fire Station on Thursday. Wratchford and his wife, Sharon, donated two animal resuscitation kits to the Fire Department.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Wes Wratchford of Rindge with his dog Maddie at the Rindge Fire Station on Thursday. Wratchford and his wife, Sharon, donated two animal resuscitation kits to the Fire Department.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Wes Wratchford of Rindge with his dog Maddie at the Rindge Fire Station on Thursday. Wratchford and his wife, Sharon, donated two animal resuscitation kits to the Fire Department.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

An accidental fire burned through one side of a condominium, causing extensive damage to the residences. Firefighters were able to navigate heavy smoke to rescue a trapped woman and her baby inside their fourth floor apartment, in addition to evacuating several animals from the flaming structure. One cat, though, couldn’t escape on its own; firefighters found the animal under a bed barely breathing. They would have to resuscitate it. But how?

This breaking news story was reported out of Seattle, Wash., in March of this year. But for Rindge resident Wes Wratchford and his wife, Sharon, who consider their rescue animals as their children, the tragedy could have just as unexpectedly happened to one of their own cats or dogs.

“Our pets are members of our family. God forbid someone has to rescue us, I hope they would be able to help [our animals] the same way they could help us,” Wes said in an interview last week.

Animal resuscitation kits to serve cats, dogs and other house pets that sustain smoke inhalation in a fire are available for purchase, but Wes said not enough fire departments have them and often members of the community aren’t aware that such life-saving technology exists. That’s why Wes said he and Sharon decided to start with a small donation of their own in the town of Rindge, where they moved to from Shrewsbury, Mass., just a year ago.

“I wasn’t sure if Rindge had [the masks], so I asked. We were at the town’s 4th of July event and got to talking with one of the firefighters about the need,” Wes said, noting that after that initial conversation he and his wife purchased two animal resuscitation kits to donate to the Rindge Fire Department.

The masks, he said, are reusable and hook up to an oxygen tank just like masks designed for the human face. Each kit — which includes a larger mask designed for a dog’s snout, a smaller mask for cats and another for rodent-sized pets — cost the Wratchfords $75. But it was their two rescue dogs, 3-year-old Maddie and 6-month-old Honey, who were named as the donors, Wes said.

Sharon, who like Wes grew up in the company of pets, said her animals taught her a lot about responsibility and compassion at a young age. And those lessons are ones that she has never forgotten, she said.

“I’m passionate about doing what I can for those who can’t help themselves,” Sharon said. “When you bring a pet into your home, you have to plan for them just as you would any other family member. …People might accuse me of going overboard, but in so many natural disasters recently we’ve seen pets displaced and/or ignored.”

Rindge Fire Chief Rick Donovan said his department has performed several dog rescues, particularly on broken ice.

“About three years ago, CPR was performed unsuccessfully,” he said, adding that it’s difficult to say if a resuscitation mask would have made the difference. “Whether a human or animal life, we are going to give it our best go.”

Donovan said he is thankful to the Wratchfords for providing life-saving equipment that the department otherwise couldn’t afford.

In nearby Dublin, Fire Chief Thomas Vanderbilt said an anonymous donor and pet lover gave animal resuscitation masks to the town about six years ago.

“Luckily, we haven’t had to use them,” he said. “Like much of our equipment, they’re great to have and you hope you don’t need them.”

In donating two animal resuscitation kits to Rindge, Wes said he hopes to increase awareness about the product and the need for the masks in local communities. After a little research online, Wes said he found Wag’N O2 Fur Life, an educational and public safety organization in Herndon, Va., that has sold more than 1,730 kits to emergency personnel throughout the country.

“I’d love to see these masks available on every rescue unit in every town in New Hampshire,” Wes said.

But for now, he and Sharon are taking things one pet and one town at a time.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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