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Pet lovers to get lesson in basic animal first aid

March 16, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Linus, Lucy and Jerry had front-row seats Saturday at the American Red Cross Pet First-Aid Class.

In two weeks, the three stuffed pets will be the main attraction.

A group of nine pet lovers met at the Franklin County Chapter of the Red Cross and in two weeks, they will learn basic first-aid techniques for animals - more specifically for dogs and cats.

They will meet again March 30 to complete a four-hour course, during which they will practice various procedures including the Heimlich maneuver, CPR and rescue breathing exercises on the mannequins.

Check, care and call

"First, they learn the three Cs - check, care and call," pet first-aid instructor Samantha Britton said. "They need to check the environment, care for the animal, then call their veterinarian or local animal hospital."

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After completing the course, each person will assist in teaching a similar class before becoming an instructor, which Britton has been for six years. The four-hour course features a PowerPoint presentation and video on the procedures, which then will be practiced on the mannequins.

"I will demonstrate the technique and go around and make sure each person is comfortable doing it," Britton said. "If someone is uncomfortable, or if there are questions, I will work with them one-on-one."

Much of the information presented is for emergency situations with family pets. Britton also showcased a typical disaster bag, which should include medications and medical records, current photos, food and water, among other items.

All of the participants Saturday had previous ties to pet care, and some confessed to having up to a half-dozen pets in their home. As the day went on, the stories - some good, some not so good - began to surface, which left no doubt in the "Why?" for each of them.

"All of these stories people are telling is exactly why we are here," said Marti Heater, founder of Kindly Canines, a dog therapy organization in Chambersburg.

If all goes as planned, Heater will become an instructor and hear even more stories from pet owners throughout the community. More importantly, she will spread the word for emergency pet care, just as Britton did Saturday.

"We are not replacing veterinarians. We want to make that clear," Britton said. "We are making people aware of what to do in different situations."

Completion of the course and co-teaching a session are mandated by the Red Cross, and as instructors, each person can teach pet first-aid classes to members of the community.

The Franklin County chapter has planned classes for April, and anyone interested may call health and safety director Becky Smith at 717-264-6214.

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