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A doggone good cause: Quincy resident raises funds for animal oxygen masks

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  April 9, 2011 10:47 AM

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Quincy resident Sally Shaughnessy had her lab-mix dog, Doug, in mind when she started on a mission to raise $600 for the purchase of seven animal oxygen masks for the Quincy area, a life-or-death device for animals caught in a house fire.

Now, only one week in, she’s raised $450.

“I’m pretty happy,” Shaughnessy said. “In under a week we’re three-fourths a way to our goal. We’re optimistic.”

Currently, only one Quincy firehouse is equipped with animal oxygen masks, stored in the North Quincy fire station on Engines 1 and 2 that were recently donated by the Willard Veterinary Clinic.

Specifically designed for dogs and cats, the masks can also be used on anything with a beak or snout. Each $85 kit comes with three size nozzles, designed to fit snugly around an animal’s nose and mouth.

The cone-shaped plastic nozzle, designed similar to a human oxygen mask, is also often used in veterinary situations to help with animal surgery.

Having at least one kit at each station would help remedy the problem, Quincy Fire Department personnel said. Yet, due to a lack of funding, oftentimes these kits are the last item on the budget list.

“When we were speaking with the fire department, they said we would love to by these on our own…but they have aging equipment and salaries, and it never makes the line item on the budget,” Shaughnessy said. “This type of equipment just isn’t a major priority.”

Now, however, worrisome pet owners need not fear. Shaughnessy is well on her way to making her goal, the momentum strong after only one week of getting the word out through social media sites, flyers around town, and word of mouth.

Being so close to their goal has Shaughnessy thinking even outside of Quincy, where more of these masks might be needed.

“If we were to raise more money, we would pass them to other South Shore towns that [are] in need,” she said.

The success of the program has been in part to people’s commitment to their animals, Shaughnessy said, something she understands completely.

“These pets are our families. He is our baby for all intents and purposes, and we want to make sure he is taken care of and is well protected,” she said.

It’s a cause that Shaughnessy has inspired many. It’s nothing something they think about, but is something that makes a lot of sense.

“A lot of people have said I didn’t even think of that, but now that I’ve thought about it, I’m exited someone is doing something about this,” she said. “A lot of people don’t make the connection that the vet equipment should and could be used in a fire emergency. When they do make a connection, a light goes off…they aren’t that expensive, and when they hear about budgets and priorities, its not too much for them to throw us 10-15 dollars for a kit.”

Shaughnessy is hoping more people go to her website

to donate the last bit of money for the cause. In the case that people donate more than the $150 needed to reach their goal, Boston and Braintree are perhaps next on her list.

“It’s not a ton of money, Nate and I figured we could make a difference and chip away at a need,” she said. “I wanted to make sure that my dog is able to get the same treatment and care that I would get in an emergency situation.”

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