How to Save An Animal’s Life

It’s a sunny morning on the campus of St. Mark’s, and the library is filled with huskies. Stuffed animal huskies, that is, here to be used as practice animals by the students in the Veterinary Science Focus Program. For two weeks, these students have come to St. Mark’s to learn how to care for animals, how to recognize symptoms of distress, and today, how to potentially save their lives.

“When my dog Molly first had a seizure,” Pet CPR Instructor Rob Nager tells the students, “I didn’t know what to do. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. but today, you’re going to learn a lot of skills that will help you know what to do. And the most important is common sense. Because when an emergency happens, what’s the first thing to happen? Panic sets in — like it did for me with Molly — and common sense goes out the window. After today, you’ll just be able to leap into action.”

But before each student gets to claim a test animal for their own, there’s one rule they need to learn first.

“When pets are in distress,” Rob said, “they become anxious and frightened. So if you treat them, make sure you muzzle them first.”

And so, out come the red straps:

Out come the red straps...

Out come the red straps…

And a very specific way of tying it. Around the snout, behind the ears, and ending with a bow on top of the head.

“I love my dog!” Rachel, a student, says as she hugs her husky. “But when I’m tying it, how do I make sure my dog doesn’t bite me?”

“Very good question,” Rob says. “You know how when you hold your dogs close, they calm down? That’s what you have to do. Know where their injury is so you don’t inadvertently hurt them more, and just find the best position to hold them close. That way, they won’t be squirming, and you’ll be able to get the muzzle in place.”

And now, Rob tells them, they are ready to begin their snout-to-tail assessments.

“The first situation to worry about,” Rob says, “is when your animal is hurt, but still has a heartbeat and is still breathing. That’s when you use first aid. The second, when there’s a heartbeat, but no breathing, means its time for rescue breathing, or what I call mouth-to-snout. Not the most pleasant part of your day, but your pet will thank you. And the third, when there’s no heartbeat and no breathing, is when you need to use CPR.”

Now, Rob says, let’s get started…

© Copyright 2011 Curiosity in Action

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