Law eliminates liability threat for medics, firefighters who treat injured pets

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We’ve all seen the heartbreaking pictures and news footage of pets rescued from house fires or natural disasters. And we’ve all seen the heartwarming images of firefighters, paramedics and EMTs rendering First Aid to those hurt and scared cats and dogs.

What you may not know is that in most states, the pet owners can — and do — sue the first responders if their pets die. That’s because the laws in those states prohibit anyone except for licensed veterinarians from treating sick and injured animals.

That’s about to change in Ohio. According to published reports, a law that takes effect there later this summer allows firefighters, paramedics and EMTs to treat injured pets without fear of legal retaliation.

The new law also applies to the treatment of police dogs and companion animals.

“It’s another layer of protection for the good guys,” Cory Smith, director of public policy for companion animals at The Humane Society of the United States, told the Associated Press.

While lawmakers in Ohio –and elsewhere — take steps to protect the first responders who choose to treat injured pets as well as people, another group wants to make sure they are well equipped to do so.

According to an article on, the group — Project Breathe — provides fire departments and other first responders with oxygen masks designed specifically for pets. To date, the non-profit organization has donated almost 14,000 masks to U.S. and Canadian fire departments. Training is also provided.

Use of the masks has reportedly saved more than 100 pets.

Sadly, that number is dwarfed by other statistics, however. Some estimates indicate that half a million pets are affected by house fires each year, and 40,000 die.

For information about how to keep your pet safe, visit:

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