Thanks to a nonprofit organization’s new program, our pets can have a fighting chance for survival in the event of fire.

The Fetch Foundation, based in Cave Creek, Ariz., is dedicated to saving the lives of animals (and humans) through strategies and programs that support, equips and train first responders.  The organization also trains and places rescue dogs with handlers for K9 search and rescue teams as well as veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

According to the organization’s research, an estimated 500,000 pets are affected by fires each year in the U.S., with more than 40,000 of that number dying from smoke inhalation alone. The priority order of first responders is to save people first, then pets and property.

With Fetch Foundation’s Fido Bag program, first responders are supplied with lifesaving tools to administer medical attention to pets.

Marie Peck is the founder and director of the Fetch Foundation and the Fido Bag program. The sister of a firefighter and the mother of another, the stories she heard about pets dying from smoke inhalation or burns because firefighters or other first responders didn’t have proper equipment to help motivated her to take action.

Dave Frederic, rescue lieutenant with the North Walpole Fire and Rescue Department, reached out to the Fetch Foundation after his crew responded to a fire in which two pets died from smoke inhalation this winter.

“I have three rescued dogs — going to a fire when someone loses a pet, it’s tough,” he said. “I decided (a Fido Bag) would be good for (the department). They were very gracious — we had one in less than a week.”

Oxygen is the first thing any living and breathing being needs after being in a fire. Since fire departments are only equipped with human emergency supplies, the oxygen masks available are too flat and small to fit a pet’s face. The most significant feature of the Fido Bag is a specialized cone-shaped breathing apparatus that is formed to fit any pet’s muzzle and comes in three sizes.

The bag also comes with specialized sheets to treat burns, bandages, rinsing saline, protective restraints and bite-resistant gloves.

“The gloves will also come in handy,” said Federic, who was bitten on another rescue by a scared dog with a chain collar caught in its mouth.

By sponsoring a fire department, giving a monetary donation or a donation of a Fido Bag, The Fetch Foundation supplies local fire departments with these tools. When a Fido Bag is donated, the recipient fire department is given in-depth training via a 45-minute video with a licensed veterinarian.

Rescuers are taught how to administer oxygen, perform first aid for injuries, administer life-saving drugs and use supplies they already carry on their trucks. Reassuring restraint methods are demonstrated to allow for safe and effective treatment and transport of the pet.

Frederic will lead the training for the 17-member department this month.

“The goal is to get one of these (Fido Bags) to all of the (fire) departments,” he said.

If you don’t have a fire emergency plan for your family and pets, get one in place and stage a drill. Make sure your pets have proper identification in case of escape.

Having a microchip implant for your pet is one of the best, foolproof methods of identification. You can get a sticker from your local fire department to put on a front and back window alerting first responders that there are pets in the home and the number of animals that need rescue.

For more information about the Fido Bag program, visit