Helping Maryland firefighters save pets' lives

Bill would erase threat of arrest and lawsuits
Posted at 1:28 PM, Mar 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-02 18:16:28-05
They are images of firefighters from across the country making heroic rescues, saving the lives of pets, but here in Maryland they could be breaking the law.
"It is technically a misdemeanor with potential jail time and a fine for anyone who does not possess a medical license, a veterinary medical license, to perform any kind of medical procedures on an animal and there's no civil immunity without permission," said Lisa Radov of Maryland Votes For Animals.
Many firefighters are unaware of this unintended consequence in the law.
In fact, here at the Pikesville volunteer fire company, first responders receive training using these donated oxygen masks to save dogs and cats, including one such rescue here on stirrup court a few weeks ago.
"Our crews brought the cat out.  One cat did not survive, and one of our ambulances transported the cat and the cat survived," said Capt. Scott Goldstein. "I would say there's no difference in the response between a family member and a pet for most of these folks."
Maryland has a Good Samaritan Law, but that only applies to humans, so now a bill in Annapolis would give first responders legal protection to do what they do best---to save lives.
22 other states already allow such emergency treatment, including Ohio, which recently addressed the issue after police canines' lives were being placed at risk.
"Their dogs were sniffing for drugs and they needed to administer Naloxone, but it was against the law," said Radov.
Advocates say this is a common sense response that could protect those who risk their own lives to save others and their pets.
We're told because of their limited lung capacity, dogs and cats suffer more quickly than their owners when they inhale smoke from a fire, and long before pet oxygen masks were developed, firefighters routinely gave mouth-to-mouth to such animals in an effort to save their lives. 

Download the ABC2 News app for the iPhone, Kindle and Android