When tragedy struck Debra Brown’s Fort Collins, Colorado, home on June 19, there was much more at stake than just her possessions. Luckily, the emergency services had just the right equipment to make all the difference.
Brown’s house caught fire just before noon.
Firefighters arrived at Brown’s South Taft Hill home as quickly as they could, though the house was already ablaze. When they arrived, they found a number of people trying to pull something through a window.
As it turned out, the house wasn’t empty. Brown’s pets—three dogs and two cats—were trapped inside.
Firefighters Estaban Guzman, Tom Pickles, and Kegan Specht assessed the situation quickly and jumped into action. They quickly pulled the unresponsive dogs and injured cats from the burning building.
All five pets, particularly the dogs, had suffered significant smoke inhalation.
The firefighters carried the pets outside for medical attention from the Poudre Fire Authority and the UCHealth EMS.
The first responders on the scene had pet-sized oxygen masks handy, which they used to revive the pets. Miraculously, all three dogs started breathing again.
But the animals still needed urgent veterinary care, and were whisked off to the Fort Collins Veterinary Emergency and Rehabilitation Hospital. There, they received treatment that likely saved their lives.
The dogs, Rio, Bentley, and Bonnie, were treated in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized room.
Before long, the dogs had regained their appetites and were wagging their tails again.
"You can replace things, but you can't replace people," said owner Debra Brown. "And animals are people, too."
“You can replace things, but you can’t replace people,” Brown told the Coloradan. “And animals are people, too.”
In a video she made thanking the fire department and EMS for saving her precious pups and kittens, Rio, Bently, and Bonnie are all alert and wagging their tails in the background.
“It’s important to make and practice [often] your emergency escape plan with your family and/or roommates. Don’t forget to include your pets in that planning process,” the Poudre Fire Department said on its Facebook page.
All three dogs and both cats are expected to make complete recoveries. And while Brown still faces the challenge of replacing her belongings, she can rest easy knowing she won’t be doing it without furry little ones at her side.