Masks to help stressed pets breathe during North Olmsted emergencies

Invisible Fence West donated in mid-September pet breathing masks to the North Olmsted Fire Department. Seen here are Sharon Davis and Dana Kuzma of Invisible Fence and Kevin Scholtz and Capt. Brian Shlapack of the North Olmsted Fire Department.

Cats and dogs caught in a fire or high-stress situations will continue to get help from North Olmsted firefighters with new equipment received this month.

The staff at Invisible Fence Cleveland West donated four kits, each with three breathing masks designed to be placed on the faces of dogs or cats suffering from smoke inhalation or breathing problems. The new masks replace ones the department got 12 years ago.

“It can make the difference for that pet in a very difficult situation,” said Capt. Brian Shlapack of the North Olmsted Fire Department. “The pet is already stressed out because their home is getting disrupted by that fire or emergency situation. They don’t understand what is going on, they only know that they’re having a problem.”

Each kit contains one small, medium and large mask that can be placed on the animal’s face.

Firefighters realize people have strong feelings for their pets, said two-year firefighter Kevin Scholtz.

“They are seen by many people as members of their families and are one of the first things people get out of their house,” Scholtz said.

That’s why Invisible Fence is involved in activities such as installing fences and giving away masks, said company representative Dana Kuzma.

“We work with each customer on getting things set up at the home so it’s safer for people and their animals,” Kuzma said.

Invisible Fence does not sell the masks to the general public, instead giving them to safety forces. Company officials estimated they have given away more than 20,000 masks throughout the United States in 12 years, including to the Avon, Fairview Park and Oberlin fire departments.

The mask kits cost about $70 each.

Contact this reporter at or 440-871-5797.

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