MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - The Macon-Bibb Fire Department received new oxygen masks designed for animals this afternoon, in hopes of helping to save the lives of pets suffering from smoke inhalation after being caught in a fire.
Assistant Fire Chief Shane Edwards and Major Robert Grabowski of the MPD were on hand for a news conference where they accepted the donation of the brand new pet-sized devices.
The masks were donated by local attorney Teresa Saggese Mills, of the Saggese Mills Law Firm, and got the idea after seeing a news story about an apartment fire on television.
"There was a major apartment fire and thankfully no one was hurt, most everybody was at work, but how all of the pets... so many of the precious pets had been lost," Saggese Mills said, "If you show me an animal that's hurt, or a person who has lost a beloved pet, you're going to see more water works here than over at the Water Authority."
According to a news release from the Macon Police, more than 500,000 pets die in fires each year. Pets are often scared by the loud noise from smoke detectors and run into hiding instead of escaping, and often have no way to flee a burning house if they're inside alone.
In total, five sets of masks were donated to the Macon-Bibb Fire Department, while another four were given to Macon Police. Each set of three masks cost $95, and the sizes can accomodate dogs, cats, and other animals of all types.
Major cities across the country are already using the specially-designed gear, including New York, Denver, Austin, and Jacksonville.