Firefighters Save Family, One Dog in Early-Morning Fire

By Jeff Smith
|  Monday, Sep 16, 2013  |  Updated 10:03 AM CDT
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A Richardson family, including one of their dogs, is lucky to be alive after a devastating house fire overnight Sunday.

Jeff Smith, NBC 5 News

A Richardson family, including one of their dogs, is lucky to be alive after a devastating house fire overnight Sunday.

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A Richardson family, including one of their dogs, is lucky to be alive after a devastating house fire overnight Sunday.

The fire started in the garage of a house on the 1900 block of Eastfield Drive, near Spring Valley Road.  Family members reported hearing strange noises in their garage.  When they opened the door they were met with flames and thick smoke.

The mother and her two sons were able to get out safely, but their two basset hounds were trapped inside.

"Pets are part of the family, and for many people who don't have children pets are their children," said assistant fire chief Ed Hotz.

Richardson firefighters were able to find one of the dogs, Cleo, and bring him outside.

Cleo was suffering from smoke inhalation and barely clinging to life. Firefighters used a specially-designed pet oxygen mask to give Cleo fresh oxygen and resuscitate him. 

The family's other dog did not survive the fire.

The physiology of a dog and a human is basically the same," Hotz said. "The best method of resuscitating them is to get good oxygen flow."

Oxygen masks used on humans form a tight seal around the mouth and nose, but they don't work well on dogs. The pet masks have a rubber circular opening that forms a tight bond around a dog's muzzle. The Richardson Fire Department has three different sizes for animals.

Hotz is also a veterinarian and volunteers once a week at the local animal clinic.

Firefighters now expect Cleo to make a full recovery.

"One of the most rewarding things we do is when we're able to pull somebody out of a house, or a pet out of a house, and resuscitate them, and make a difference in their life."

Investigators are still working to find out how it started.

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