Six fire trucks and 13 ambulances in the town of Appleton will have masks intended for use on dogs, cats and other small animals.
Alderman Richard Thompson initiated the programme after he saw a newspaper photograph of a firefighter in Superior giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a cat rescued from a house fire.
“A pet is family to most people,” he said. “I know I wouldn’t want to lose Maggie, my collie, or Lucy, my Tabby cat, to a fire, carbon monoxide poisoning or Lord knows what else.”
The money to pay for each $49 (€38) mask came from donations by local animal lovers.
“It was something to see,” Thompson said. “There was no organised solicitation effort. People and community groups just read or heard about the programme and stepped up to the plate.”
The masks, which come in three sizes, will be distributed to each of six fire stations and to the Appleton Police Department K-9 unit, he said.
The Madison Fire Department carries similar masks on its seven ambulances, said Lori Wirth, the department’s community education officer.
The Madison department also bought its masks with money from unsolicited donations, she said. The department raised so much money it was able to buy mask kits for several neighbouring communities.