New initiative hopes to save animal lives

New steps have been taken to keep our furry friends in West Yorkshire safe – thanks to a generous donation from a local animal charity. 

Amy and Sally show WM Bartle how to use the masks.

Huddersfield Feral and Strays has fundraised to ensure animal welfare kits are now a standard on every single West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) fire engine, including things like appropriately sized oxygen masks, and calming wipes to help any animal that crews encounter. 

Sally Fletcher one of the co-founders of the charity, held bake sales, raffles and other fundraising events to fund the initiative. Sally then worked with the operational equipment team at WYFRS to see which items would be best placed to help animals who are often rescued from fires or water by the crews. WYFRS is currently rolling out a fleet of brand-new state of the art fire appliances, an exciting investment as part of the service’s 50th year - and these kits will sit on every engine, to help animals across all five districts. 

Sally said “I first had the idea way back in 2017 and approached WYFRS to see if this is something they could use, to really help make a difference to animals in our community. We’ve then set about as a charity raising the funds to allow them to be trialled on several appliances. We did face delays due to the pandemic, but we are delighted that these lifesaving kits will be on every appliance in the district. 

“The people of West Yorkshire have been generous, donating money and sponsoring me for all sorts of things, including a sky dive to raise the funds! I know during the trial period the oxygen masks were used on cats who had been involved in a house fire and potentially helped to save their lives, so it’s a great feeling to know this equipment is now on every fire engine, to help protect animals across West Yorkshire.” 

Watch Manager for Operational Equipment James Bartle said “The kit will make a big difference to how we can treat animals who are distressed, trapped or who have been in an oxygen deficient environment. 

“The kit contains muzzles, a slip lead and calming wipes. As we all know animals can become very distressed, and I can think back to a few incidents I have attended where these would have been very useful, for the safety of the animals and the crews. 

“Most importantly though, the kit contains animal oxygen masks. No longer will crews have to struggle to apply a human mask to an animal. Thanks to Sally and her team we can now provide effective oxygen therapy to animals. Thanks to Huddersfield Feral and Strays and all the kind donations West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service are better prepared when facing incidents involving animals.” 

Alongside the kits, the charity has worked with WYFRS to create specialist training videos to ensure crews are as informed as possible around the treatment of animals in the community.