Pet owners are the first responders.
Pet owners are the first responders.
Today, Klasen is an instructor at The Frontline Coalition, an organization that teaches CPR and first aid for pets. She says Pet CPR is similar to what we might perform on a human being, but there are significant differences. The size of the animal, the techniques, and the hand placements that are used are all different.
She and Master Instructor Malinda Malone teach how to perform CPR on dogs and cats through Pet Tech, an international program used by Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration. The program also is the designated Pet CPR and First Aid Training source for most pet care professional organizations in the country.
Pet Tech was originally developed by Thom Somes in 1997 after realizing there were no in-person training classes available. After many years of training and research, Thom and his wife, Cindy, created the Pet Tech curriculum, which follows the American Veterinary Medical Association’s guidelines and training.
Klasen says any number of unforeseen circumstances can result in the need for CPR – such as choking, poison, trauma or even allergic reactions. In the human world, we’re told to call 911 and then start performing CPR or administering first aid, she says. But we don’t have 911 for pets, and that makes pet owners the first responders.
The Frontline Coalition believes any pet parent or pet professional should have the knowledge that could allow them to stabilize a pet in an emergency, giving them the precious time needed to get to a vet. That includes having emergency contacts for pet sitters, dog walkers and anyone working at a non-veterinarian-related boarding facility, among other groups.
“It’s important to know what to do in an emergency and have some muscle memory from practicing hands-on CPR,” she said. “Taking a class in person is ideal for having someone readily available to answer your questions and assist you with proper technique, ensuring that you’re performing each maneuver correctly.”
Klasen and Malone are both former first responders teaching from personal experience. Stuffed dogs and canine mannequins are used to teach proper hand placement and how to do compressions. To bring more realism to the classes, the women include their dogs to demonstrate where to feel for a pulse, allowing trainees to find and feel it on a live animal. The instruction covers an array of emergency situations, including bleeding, seizures, heatstroke, choking and so many more instances that would require an immediate response.
Pet Tech currently has two courses available. The Pet CPR/First Aid course is a six-and-a-half hour class, and the Pet Saver course is an eight-hour class with additional information covering geriatric and dental care. Both courses have a two-year certification accredited through Pet Tech. Master Instructor Malone teaches a three-day Instructor Course for those who want to become Pet Tech Instructors. The Frontline Coalition based in Phoenix travels nationally to training new pet responders and instructors, along with conducting their classes locally.
The organization also stresses the importance of having a first aid kit on hand for your pet. “You want to be able to react quickly, as opposed to searching for supplies while in the middle of an emergency,” Malone said. The two have first aid kits that they’ve put together available at their classes, as well as supplies that pet owners may choose to add to an existing kit. QCBN
To find a class near you, visit TheFrontlineCoalition.com.
Courtesy Photo: Klasen says an online course offers knowledge about CPR and first aid but doesn’t allow for the feel and hands-on experience that an in-person class provides in real time.