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Stuffed gifts could save pets' lives

September 08, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Shari Persad had one parting request for the four "pets" she presented Friday to Samuel Bonner, safety and health administrator for the Eastern Panhandle chapter of the American Red Cross, at the relief agency's office in Martinsburg.

"If I end up naming them, I'll end up keeping them," Persad, president of the Berkeley County Humane Society's board of directors, said of the dog and cat mannequins that the humane society purchased for the Red Cross chapter's revived pet first aid course.

Thanks to the donation of two cat and two dog mannequins, extra breathing tubes and plastic "inflatable lungs" worth about $600, Red Cross officials again will be able to hold the classes, Bonner said.

"We stopped because we did not have the proper equipment to teach the class," Bonner said.

The Eastern Panhandle chapter purchased enough instructional materials to allow Bonner to teach four classes, and he hopes to be able to schedule the course at least once each month, if not twice after more instructors are certified.

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"We've had a lot of demand for this in the county," Bonner said. "People's pets are their kids, too."

The first class will be Saturday, Oct. 27, at 9 a.m. at the agency's office. The cost of the three-hour course is $25, and the class size will be limited to 14 people who must pre-register, Bonner said.

In addition to instructions on how to perform CPR, the course will include instructions on bandaging, splints, response to poisoning and transporting an injured pet, Bonner said.

To perform CPR on a dog, for example, you have to close its mouth and breathe through its nose, Persad said while demonstrating with a shepherd mannequin how the animal is positioned on its side for the procedure.

The other mannequins are a golden retriever, and calico and Siamese cats.

After Bonner presented Persad with a certificate of appreciation for the humane society's donation, they noted the organizations also are working on a disaster pet recovery course.

The donated mannequins will be shared among the Red Cross chapter's seven-county service area, which includes Berkeley, Jefferson, Morgan, Hampshire, Grant, Hardy and Pendleton counties.

Two weeks ago, Jefferson and Morgan counties joined the other five in an administrative realignment that was able to reduce administrative costs, Bonner said. A few weeks before that, City National Bank officials in Martinsburg decided to allow the Red Cross to use its former branch office off Winchester Avenue and Mall Drive at no expense other than utilities until the financial institution's lease expires in November 2008. The office donation coincided with the bank's relocation to new offices off King Street.

"This gives us enough time to figure out what we're going to do," Bonner said of long-term plans to find a permanent home for the Red Cross in Berkeley County. "The biggest thing (with the realignment) is we get to pool our resources."

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