Debbie Gagnon helps responders save pets’ lives
Debbie Gagnon loves dogs. She loves all animals. When not serving lobster rolls to her customers at her eatery Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, you can generally find her somewhere with at least one of her dogs.
Gagnon recently lost two of her beloved dogs, Elton and Elvis, and she wanted to do something to honor them.
So on behalf of the Gagnon family and Red's Eats, and in loving memory of Elton and Elvis, Gagnon has turned her grief into something that will hopefully save animals' lives.
She is donating oxygen masks for pets to local fire departments and other organizations. The masks are versatile, will fit anything from a mouse to a foal, and are reusable, she said.
“I'm an animal lover, number one, and I have always worried about them,” Gagnon said. “I had heard about these kits and I decided to get in touch with local first responders to see if they had any of them.”
Gagnon got online to look for the type of kit that would be most practical, and easiest for first responders to use. “These seemed to be the best ones,” she said, holding up a bright orange bag with the Wag'N O2 Fur Life® logo, and a life-saving device inside.
Gagnon said she learned the Boothbay Fire Department has had pet oxygen masks for 13 years. “A friend, David Pratt, from the department, said, 'You know what? Pets matter.' And I said, “You betcha.”
Gagnon said her most fervent wish is for every fire and first responder department to have these life-saving tools. “When I shared a post about it on Facebook, I couldn't believe the number of dog lovers and breeder friends who contacted me to find where I purchased the kits because they want to do the same thing.”
The masks come in a kit complete with a PowerPoint training presentation on how to use them properly.
Gagnon had already delivered two of the kits to the Wiscasset Fire Department, and on Feb. 5 she delivered them to Dresden Fire and Rescue and the Edgecomb Fire and EMS departments. Gagnon said the Edgecomb Fire Department already had one of the masks, but could use another.
Each kit contains three oxygen masks: a small, medium and large; three oxygen air tubes; a carry bag for easy storage and mobility; a kennel lead; an instruction sheet; the PowerPoint presentation; and other items.
Edgecomb Fire Chief Roy Potter's wife Karen was presented with one of the kits while she was at work at Skip Cahill Tire in Edgecomb. “Roy was ecstatic when he heard about it. We have one on the command vehicle, but Edgecomb has several first response vehicles in the bay, so to have another one is just awesome.”
“This is about our first responders, and my appreciation of them, not me or my donation of (the kits),” Gagnon said. “And if one of these masks saves one pet's life, I'll be happy.
“It is truly my wish that all of our fire and EMS departments have these available to save lives. The more departments that these are donated to the happier I will be. As a friend said, ‘Pets matter.’”
Anyone interested in donating a kit to their local first responders can purchase them for $90 from Www.petoxygenmasks.org