Firefighters save dog with mini-oxygen mask

Published: 11/8/2009 6:07 PM

Naperville firefighters used a pet-sized oxygen mask Sunday to revive a dog that was overcome by smoke in a townhouse fire.

Batallion Chief Patrick Sleik said it was the first time the department used the device, which got the dog breathing again in short time.

"It was outstanding," he said. "The guys put a lot of heart into it."

Firefighters were called to the 900 block of West Court shortly after 10 a.m. and arrived to find smoke billowing from the vents in an eight-unit townhouse building, Sleik said. Inside, they heard barking.

"We did a search, and one of the guys (firefighter Andy Winckler) came across the dog, which was unconscious by then, in a bedroom," Sleik said.

After carrying the dog out to medical units, firefighter-paramedics Jake Felten and Javier Saucedo performed CPR, then turned to the oxygen mask. Once the dog was breathing, she was handed off to DuPage County Animal Control and sent to an emergency veterinary clinic in Lisle.

"She was a little shaken" but otherwise OK, Sleik said. "She's in good hands with animal control."

Sleik described the dog as a "white Maltese-type" that appeared to be six months to a year old. The pup was alone when a hot water heater igniter set fire to a pile of clothes in the laundry room of a second-story townhouse, then spread to the hallway and main living area, he said.

Firefighters had the flames under control in about 15 minutes. Sleik estimated structural damage at $45,000 and said the townhouse, which was being rented by a single mother with a daughter in fourth grade, was uninhabitable.

"Hopefully, (saving the dog) will be a bright spot in this lady's endeavor," he said. "Some people feel pets are extensions of their families, and anyone who owns a dog or animal certainly would understand."

According to Sleik, the woman and her daughter plan to live temporarily with the woman's mother in Wheaton, but have lost most of their possessions and will need help getting back on their feet.

He said anyone interested in donating to the family should call police at (630) 420-6666.