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Special fundraiser hopes to breathe life into Chilliwack animal rescue

Submitted photo A new Chilliwack-based animal protection organization looks to supply local fire halls with animal respirator kits, a tool that would increase the chances of saving pets from house fires and smoke inhalation.  - Greg Laychak/TIMES
Submitted photo A new Chilliwack-based animal protection organization looks to supply local fire halls with animal respirator kits, a tool that would increase the chances of saving pets from house fires and smoke inhalation.
— image credit: Greg Laychak/TIMES

House fires are never easy on families.

According to Laura Grosvenor, house fires are even harder on animals.

“Most animals can’t get out of a house,” she explains. “Humans get trapped all the time, but they’re able to get out. Animals are stuck in a house.”

Grosvenor has always felt a need to help animals, which you only need to look at her pets to see. She has three dogs and three cats, all of which are rescues.

But with a little community help, Grosvenor is hoping to rescue more.

Grosvenor, along with Nikki Mattila, is a co-founder of new Chilliwack charity Fur A Better Life Organization (FABLO).

And with their first project, they’re raising money for animal respirators to help animals caught in house fires.

“We have respirators for humans, but they don’t fit on animals. The human face and the animal face are certainly not the same.” Grosvenor explains. “They are a vital tool for humans, and they’re a vital tool for animals.”

FABLO will host a fundraiser at the Echo Room this Saturday, Aug. 23, with live bands, hot food, and a silent auction. Tickets are $20, which includes a meal provided by The Angry Chef and a beverage. The event runs from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m., and at the end of the night Grosvenor hopes they’ll have raised enough to buy at least one respirator kit for each of the fire halls in Chilliwack.

“It’s not a huge amount, and it’s a doable amount,” Grosvenor says, noting each kit costs about $150 and has three different mask sizes to accommodate a variety of animals.

The organization has already received a couple of donations, with local businesses sponsoring the purchase of respirators in return for their name on the kit.

Chilliwack firefighter Andy Brown estimates animal respirators would see use once or twice a year locally.

“Pretty much what we’ve done in the past is we’ve tried to use a standard face mask for a human and tried to adapt it to a pet,” he says.

Because respirators depend on a seal around the face to get the recipient as much oxygen as possible, human respirators can’t always be successfully used on animals.

“The animal respirators [are] contoured to fit the shape of the animal, so you would have a better chance of a successful outcome,” Brown explains.

Chilliwack would join Delta and Richmond in stocking the respirators. Grosvenor notes the equipment is becoming more and more standard in North America, and envisions a future where every fire hall has an animal respirator on hand.

And Brown sees the respirators as an opportunity for local firefighters to better serve and protect Chilliwack residents.

“At the time, you’re trying your best with what you have,” Brown concludes. “What [animal respirators] are for us is another tool in our toolbox that may help us provide a better service to the community.”

• The fundraiser takes place this Saturday, Aug. 23, at 6 p.m. at the Echo Room. Tickets are $20 and available at Oly’s Pet Connection and the Echo Room. The event is 19+ only. For more information or to sponsor a respirator kit, contact Laura Grosvenor at furabetterlife@hotmail.com or 604-798-6253.

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