Mouth to muzzle
SUMMIT COUNTY – At first glance, Jerry looks like any other furry mutt. Look again and you’ll realize he isn’t real. Jerry is a mannequin that has come to help teach locals how to help their animal friends in an emergency.
Thanks to a recent donation, Lisa Cloud, manager of the Red Cross mountain branch in Dillon, was able to purchase Jerry and begin to offer pet first-aid classes – something she believes many locals will scramble to join.
The American Red Cross has offered pet first-aid classes on the Front Range for several years.
However, the classes are so popular, the mountain branch couldn’t borrow pet mannequins which were available on the Front Range.
The local branch needed its own mannequins, but Cloud was unable to justify the purchase. The dog mannequin costs about $1,000 and the cat more than $300.
“With the economy and everything the way it is, our main goal is to provide disaster relief,” Cloud said. “Part of our mission is that we prepare, prevent and respond to emergencies. So, if we look at pet first aid and the money for those mannequins, it’s kind of like a luxury compared to responding to a fire.”
Now that Jerry is available, Cloud has talked with the local nonprofit LAPS (League for Animal and People of the Summit) and the Breckenridge and Silverthorne recreation centers about the classes. She said people are excited about the prospect.
The Silverthorne Recreation Center polled dog owners about the classes in an evaluation form it distributed during its annual Doggie Days this spring and received an enthusiastic response, said Christine Scovil, aquatics coordinator.
“People are really excited and want to know how to help out their four-legged, furry friends,” she said.
“People were interested because they don’t really know what to do for animals,” Cloud said. “CPR is different for people than dogs. You can do CPR on a dog or cat, and we want to share that with people.”
In addition to teaching people how to administer CPR to their pets, the two- to three-hour course will teach pet owners basic medical care, such as how to respond if their animal friend has a seizure, how to check its temperature or apply a bandage to a wound.
The class will help people recognize the signs of hypothermia, heat stroke, diabetes and shock, and teach them how to control bleeding or what to do if the animal is unconscious.
“It could be little or it could be lifesaving,” Cloud said, adding that the class is meant to complement – not replace – veterinary care. “We definitely want people to know when to get their dog or cat to the vet. And some of this may be what to do on the way.”
The class will also help pet owners recognize impending death – whether from trauma or old age – which might help them gain peace of mind as they prepare to bid a final farewell to their friend, she said.
Cloud is hoping to generate enough money from the first round of classes to purchase a cat mannequin. Though CPR is different for cats than it is for dogs, cat owners still can benefit from the other medical skills taught in the dog first-aid classes.
Cloud also hopes to offer classes designed specifically for youth – though she stressed that children should be both physically and emotionally prepared to handle an emergency before signing up for the class.
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