Business And Students Team Up For Animals
By Jennifer Teuber, Osprey
Observer Community Newspaper
FEBRUARY 2008: VOL 7, ISSUE 2
Everyone knows the dangers of smoke inhalation on humans, but care for pets rescued from fires is not always a paramount concern. However, with the help of donations from the community, Cheresee Rehart has been working to get animal oxygen masks installed in all the fire trucks in Hillsborough County.
"I got the idea for the oxygen masks from the only trade group for professional pooper scoopers, it is called aPaws. It is the Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists," said Rehart, who owns the Yard Guards on Doody, a business which cleans up dog mess for a fee.
Forty-two sets of masks are need to supply Hillsborough County’s fire trucks and Rehart has pledged to purchase them. The Riverview resident presented 21 sets of masks to the county on January 11 at FishHawk Creek Elementary School and will get the rest on order.
"In Hillsborough County, all the money raised so far has been due to my fundraising efforts. I ask my customers, and I am happy to say many of them donate very generously. I have donation boxes around town, I have done a small press release and I asked the police K9 unit who benefited from my fundraising efforts last year," Rehart said.
Rehart has also raised money to buy bullet proof vests for dogs in the past, getting the idea from aPaws.
"All of the Hillsborough County police K9s (19 at the time) had to share four vests. We raised enough money (over $6,000) to buy 15 tailor made vests to outfit all the dogs in the county. I am very proud of that. My hope with the vests, as well as the oxygen masks, is that they will never have to be used," she said.
The presentation ceremony took place at FishHawk Creek thanks to student Shayna Zajac who helped raise money for the K9 bullet proof vests. She brought a donation box into her classroom, and raised $144 towards the vests.
"I kept her phone number and called her again this year. So far her fourth grade class has raised over $300 towards the oxygen masks. I thought it would be wonderful for the kids to benefit from doing such a good deed, and I decided to see if we could have the presentation at the school. Everyone was more than happy to have it at the school," Rehart said.
The fire department brought a fire truck to the event snd a member of the police K9 unit attended with Abbey, a bloodhound.
"I asked the police K9 unit also if they would like to help out the fire department, since they benefited last year and they were more than happy to take up a collection. They raised $200 towards the oxygen masks," she said.
|Todd Carnell, Quality Management Chief of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue illustrates how Ellie Mae would receive oxygen through the new mask.|
The oxygen masks are from Surgi-vet and come in a set of three, one small, one large and one feline. Rehart said she believes the masks, which have a lifetime guarantee, will fit a bird to a mastiff. They are designed to fit the animals' snout and have a gasket so the mask fits tightly and the animal receives all the oxygen. If the fire trucks do not have the animal oxygen masks on board they have to use people masks.