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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

California woman gives oxygen masks made for pets to fire departments

One woman is making sure fire departments have the tools they need to properly care for pets in emergencies.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — It’s a fear that we’ve all had: What will happen to my beloved pet if disaster strikes?

“The best deterrent to make sure your pet is safe is to prepare beforehand,” said Debra Jo Chiapuzio. 

She is a pet first aid specialist and the president of the Emma Zen Foundation in Anaheim, which is of course named for her dog.

Chiapuzio has dedicated her life to protecting pets of all sizes. A while back, she wondered if her house caught fire, what equipment our firefighters could use to protect the wellbeing of her pets. Turns out, due to the lack of specialized equipment, fire departments use human oxygen masks on animals.

“All of our pets suffer from smoke inhalation just as much as you or I do,” she said. “It’s actually called blow by air and it literally just comes out of the mask and goes up and over the snout of the animal.”

When Chiapuzio discovered that many fire departments don’t have these specialized masks, she made it her mission to distribute as many as she could, free of charge. In the nine years she’s run the Emma Zen Foundation, she’s been able to donate more than 7,500 mask kits to 650 fire departments, making sure that our best friends can be saved in the darkest of times.

If you’d like to donate to the Emma Zen Foundation, click here.