DeForest boy pushes every Wisconsin fire department to get pet oxygen masks

Finn Sullivan with pet oxygen masks

MADISON, Wis. – An 11-year-old boy has inspired the Madison Fire Department to purchase new oxygen masks for pets.


A couple months ago, Chief Steve Davis received an email from Finn Sullivan.  The boy from DeForest passionately explained his goal: to make sure every fire department in the state is equipped with oxygen masks suited for animals.  Sullivan reached out to all of the more than 700 fire departments in Wisconsin.


“I just wanted to take it to the next level to help animals and stuff because they’ve been there when people haven’t for me and when I’m sad, they help me feel better,” Sullivan said.


Davis and the crew at Fire Station 1 in downtown Madison invited Sullivan and his family to visit Tuesday and check out the two mask kits they bought for the department.  Those will be kept in the command car which responds to every structure fire scene.

“Very frequently, we go to structure fires and there’s a dog or a cat or a family pet that we find inside,” Chief Davis explained.  “Most of the time they’re unharmed, but some of the time they have smoke inhalation, so we’ll bring them outside and assign someone to work on that animal and bring them back.”


Davis also pointed out that pet owners often become victims of fires themselves by going back into a home to get pets.


Davis said his next goal is to get all of the fire departments across Dane County to invest in the pet oxygen masks, which run about $80 to $100.


Sullivan had the honor of putting the masks into the command vehicle, but he’s determined to make sure this tool is available to save pets across the entire state.


“I will not stop until I get this done,” Sullivan said.


Sullivan and his family are working to set up a way for people to sponsor a fire department so they can purchase the animal oxygen masks.  They have created a “Best Friends Breathe” Facebook page where they will continue to share updates about the effort.


This all follows a fairly new law here in Wisconsin that allows EMS workers and trained first responders to administer first aid to pets without risking any criminal conviction or civil lawsuit if something happened to those animals.  Before that law was passed, only veterinarians could legally care for sick or injured animals.