TAVARES — Sisters Sarah (age 10), Allison (7) and Julie Hicks (5) will present the Lake County Board of County Commissioners with four pet oxygen masks that they saved money to purchase during the County Commission meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 16, at 9 a.m. in the Board Chambers of the Lake County Administration Building, located at 315 W. Main St., Tavares.
SARAH, JULIE and ALLISON HICKS
Pet oxygen masks are becoming increasingly more prevalent on fire engines across the nation. The cone-shaped plastic masks are small enough to fit snugly on pets’ snouts and can resuscitate those suffering from smoke inhalation. The masks can work on most pets including dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits and guinea pigs. Currently, the Lake County Department of Public Safety, Fire Rescue Division, carries pet oxygen masks on three fire engines at Station 82 near the Plantation community and Stations 52 and 53 in Lady Lake.
“I read this newspaper article to the kids about how the County only had a few masks, and I said to them ‘they need help, what we can do,’” asked mother Stephanie Hicks to her three daughters.
The sisters from St. Cloud, who attend Narcoossee Community School, were quick to react to Lake County’s need for pet oxygen masks, as their fondness of four-legged friends is a common family trait. Their father, Bob Hicks, is a veterinarian at Boggy Creek Animal Hospital in Kissimmee. To raise money for the pet masks, which cost about $55 apiece, the girls asked for extra chores around the house and were willing to put their extra allowances toward the project, said Stephanie.
“The girls got excited about it and we decorated a coffee can tin to collect the extra money,” Stephanie said. “Our family goal was to get enough money for two pet masks, and then my husband said he would match whatever the girls came up with.”
During Tuesday’s presentation to the Board of County Commissioners, officials from the Lake County Fire Rescue Division will present the Hicks sisters with certificates recognizing their achievement.
“We are thankful for the donation of this equipment; the additional masks will allow us to have pet masks on more of our frontline fire engines,” said Jack Fillman, Assistant Fire Chief – Administration. “Without pet oxygen masks, firefighters can use mouth-to-snout resuscitation or human oxygen masks. The main difference between a pet mask and a human mask is that it seals around the muzzle tighter than a human mask. The pet mask helps firefighters deliver the right amount of oxygen to the pet.”