Man donates pet oxygen masks to two Taney County fire departments

FORSYTH, Mo. -- A gift for two Ozarks fire departments could save the lives of furry family members if they're caught in a house fire.

A citizen in Forsyth donated four oxygen mask sets for pets to Central Taney County Fire Protection District and Forsyth Fire Department.

The donation came about a month after two cats and two dogs died in a fire at a pet boarding and grooming business in Kirbyville.

"I can't even imagine how I would feel if I would have been one of those recipients of that phone call, you lost your pet because of a fire," David Stahlhut said.

That's why Stahlhut donated the pet oxygen mask sets to fire crews.

"If we are able to save [the pet] and be able to provide them some oxygen to keep them alive and that's the only thing [the home owners] have when they've lost all their possessions, it's hard to replace that," Forysth Fire Department Chief Nathan Bower said.

The sets come with three different sizes of masks, for three different sizes of pets. Two of the masks have already been used.

"We had them for two days and used them on two dogs," Central Taney County Fire Protection District Chief Doug Bower said.

EMTs helped give the dogs oxygen after a fire on February 22 in Kirbyville, clearing their lungs of smoke.

"They help re-oxygenate the system," Chief Doug Bower said.

The sets cost about $70 each.

"I said 'Does your department have any?' and he said 'No' and I said 'Thank you. That's all I need to know,'" Stahlhut said.

A dog owner himself, Stahlhut says it's impossible to know if the masks could have helped save the pets that died last month.

"Try to help limit those possibilities when it's physically and humanly possible," Stahlhut said.

However, he along with the leaders of the two departments, hope the gift will help save pets in the future.

"That means a great big deal to us, as well as if it were your pet," Chief Nathan Bower said.

The Forsyth Fire Department received one of the mask sets and Central Taney County Fire Protection District got three.