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Pet-Saving Technology Comes to Kitty’s Rescue

A family cat is expected to make a full recovery following a basement fire thanks to oxygen mask kits recently donated to the the Webster Groves Fire Department in memory of city employee Steve Sawers.

The recent donation of pet oxygen masks to the Webster Groves Fire Department couldn’t have come at a better time for a family cat this past weekend.

On Sunday, the Webster Groves Fire Department responded to a basement fire in the 300 block of Marion Avenue in Webster Groves. The home was fully involved with fire when the first crew of firefighters came on the scene.

Fortunately, the fire was quickly extinguished thanks in part to an aggressive interior attack, department spokesperson Matt Coppin said. Unfortunately, a family cat was the victim of smoke inhalation. Firefighter and paramedic Mike Peters found the injured animal hiding under debris. It was clear that its breathing had been affected by smoke from the fire.

But the cat was in luck. The department had received a pair of pet oxygen mask kits less than two weeks before the fire. The kits were a gift from the St. Louis Chapter of the Mixed Breed Dog Club of America (MBDCA) in memory of 25-year public works employee and animal lover Steve Sawers. The public works veteran died unexpectedly on Dec. 7, after collapsing at work. 

The cat was taken out of the house and treated by members of the Webster Groves Fire Department using the newly acquired kits. The cat’s condition began to improve greatly after being administered oxygen, and the family pet is expected to make a full recovery, according to Coppin.

“The fact that we can (accept these gifts) to honor Steve and his love of animals really makes me proud,” said Phil Hilliard, firefighter and paramedic with the Webster Groves Fire Department.

Smoke inhalation is one of the biggest problems that pets face during a fire, according to Audrey Edwards, president of the St. Louis chapter of MBDCA, a national registry for mixed breed dogs.

“They are often left vulnerable in this situation and require assistance,” Edwards said. “These kits are instrumental in providing necessary care.”

The St. Louis chapter of the MBDCA holds regular fund raising events which have allowed the organization to donate pet oxygen mask kits to fire departments throughout the St. Louis area.

Sawers was known for his affection for dogs, especially his own rescue companion, Mulligan, whom he adopted from a shelter.

“Steve was such a kind and caring individual,” said Karen Beck of the Webster Groves Public Works Department. “Undoubtedly, he would be honored that he is being remembered as such a friend to animals.”

It’s safe to say that at least one kitty will carry on the memory of Sawers’ kind heart and owes one of its nine lives to the MBDCA.

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