For the longest time my mom has been wanting to take a pet first aid class. Though she is on the way to attending veterinary school and becoming a vet, there is a long time between then and now. An emergency may happen involving myself or one of the kitties within that time. If she has some tools that will help her help us, the more the better. So she was more than excited that The Loyal Biscuit decided to host a pet first aid class as a fundraiser for the Maine POM Project. For every class fee of $40, the Red Cross gets $22 to cover fees while the POM Project gets $18 to help purchase Pet Oxygen Masks (or POMs) for Maine emergency vehicles and firetrucks. So far, The Maine POM Project has donated over 152 sets of POMs to areas all over Maine, including my town and the ones that are neighboring.
A pet oxygen mask
The human who teaches the pet first aid class, Bobby Silcott, is an ACO as well as the one doing the majority, if not all of the work behind the POM Project. In between his duties as an ACO, he goes around the state teaching pet first aid classes as well as handing out and doing the training for the POMs.
Heidi, the owner of the Loyal Biscuit, and Bob Silcott.
While I can’t divulge everything that my mom learned at her class (while time is a factor, taking the class is far better than reading everything on a blog anyway), there were a few key points that my mom felt needed sharing. The first is that knowing pet first aid does not mean you become a stand-in for your pet’s veterinarian. In fact, the number 1 priority is get the pet stabilized enough so that you can make it to the vets, not make them 100% better. To go along with that is to try to remember as many facts as possible to better inform the veterinarian. If you see a dog get hit by a vehicle, it can be important to know where the dog was struck, what kind of vehicle it was (compact car, truck, etc), how the dog is acting, etc. The more information, the better.
Bob administering chest compressions on his helpful, stuffed assistant Hope.
The second important thing is to know what is normal for your own pets. Know their eating habits, bathroom habits, grooming habits, what their normal heart beat feels like, etc. We animals can not verbalize to humans when something is wrong with us, so we rely on you to notice if our behavior changes; a signal that we are not okay.
Bob showing how to use a make-shift muzzle
Another thing that Bob stressed is that you can never fully trust an injured animal, even if it’s your own. He said that cats, especially, can turn very violent when they are stressed and in pain. That’s not to say all injured animals will always lash out, or always get violent, it’s just to stress caution. If you are injured when trying to help your pet, you will no longer be able to help to the best of your abilities.
Because of this wonderful and informative class, my mom feels better prepared in case of an emergency. She is now certified in both cat and dog first aid, and has a handy manual that helps give information on everything from eye injuries to hypothermia. If you are interested in taking a pet first aid class, please check with your local Red Cross. If you would like to donate or learn more information about the Maine POM Project, you can check out their website and facebook page.
Happy tail wags!