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Animal rescue training held for Pa. first responders

A county animal response team taught participants pet first aid and how to use pet oxygen masks

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Patrick Varine
The Tribune-Review

WESTMORELAND COUNTY, Pa. — About two years after the Westmoreland County Animal Response Team (CART) formed, its members were called out to fire in Ligonier.

CART Coordinator Lori Mozina thought it was odd, since the fire company was equipped with an oxygen mask suited to treat pets.

“They had one at the station, but no one was there to bring it to the scene,” Mozina said. “The former fire chief, Paul Church, asked us if we could provide a unit for every one of their trucks.”

It turned out to be a “light-bulb moment,” Mozina said.

Today, CART members have given hundreds of pet oxygen mask kits thanks to donations and sponsorships.

They spent Sunday afternoon at Ligonier’s Waterford Volunteer Fire Department, providing a group of 30 firefighters and other emergency responders general training on helping pets in an emergency.

Mozina also gave out more than 20 kits to the participating agencies, all sponsored by regional businesses and individuals.

“Our main focus today is on the pet oxygen masks and the types of pet first aid they’d need to know in an emergency,” Mozina said.

The training is quick version of the full certification that CART members undergo.

“We respond to so many house fires with animals involved, and we found that a lot of times, emergency responders didn’t know how to use (the mask) properly, or they were throwing it away after using it,” Mozina said. “I get it: they’re frantic, they want to save an animal. But you have to have a little training.”

The masks cost around $100 for a set of three sizes, which can fit over the snout of nearly any household pet, be it a dog, cat or even an iguana.

CART has given away more than 450 sets to more than 140 emergency agencies in their coverage area, which includes Allegheny, Westmoreland and Fayette counties.

Mozina is actively seeking sponsors for the oxygen masks, as well as for “shelter kits” — a set of supplies given to pet owners who’ve lost their home to a fire and need a way to care for their pet.

Mozina said situations like that are why even a few hours of training on a Sunday afternoon can be immensely helpful.

“If a person has just lost everything they own, that dog or cat might be the only thing keeping them sane, and they need to be able to take care of it,” she said.

To sponsor a kit, or for more about CART, see


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