Vet clinic teaches Helotes Fire Department pet-saving techniques

Fire Chief: Pets are like family for many

Firefighters in Helotes learned how to do CPR on pets, how to treat burns or other injuries, and much more on Tuesday.

Firefighters in Helotes now know how to do CPR and other potentially life-saving techniques on pets, thanks to Mission Veterinary Specialists, a veterinary clinic in the 8200 block on Loop 1604.

Helotes Fire Chief Walton Daugherty said, "We're helping family when we're helping that pet. That's what we're all about is helping family."

Being that pets are considered by many as beloved members of the family, Daugherty said he welcomed the offer to have his firefighters trained, given the number of animals first responders often encounter at fires or accidents.

Firefighters and several members of the Helotes Police Department, many pet owners themselves, sat attentively as Dr. Lindsay Vaughn, an emergency and trauma specialist, and her dog Brodie gave them a crash course.

She showed them where vital organs are in dogs and cats, how to do CPR, check for burns and broken bones, administer oxygen and much more.

Vaughn said she wanted to give the firefighters "first aid and other techniques so the animal can survive coming to the hospital to see a veterinarian."

She said, for instance, she would not hesitate to do CPR on a pet that is unresponsive.

But Vaughn also made it a point to stress firefighter safety comes first, since often traumatized animals can become aggressive.

She showed them various forms of restraints that are safe for the animals but protect the handler from injury.

Mission Veterinary Specialists also will be handing out "Pet Alert" stickers so the public can post them on a window or front door where first responders can see them.

They read, "Our family includes the following friends, dogs, cats, reptiles, birds or others. Please help them, too!"