Death of Family Pet Sparks Creation of Fund to Pay for Vet Care

What happens when a family pet is hurt in a fire and the owners can't afford vet care? The Prince George's County Fire Department and animal advocates have created a fund save animals in such situations; you can donate now.

Otis, a 2-year-old Chihuahua, was revived after a Bowie house fire last year. But he died days later because his owners couldn't afford followup veterinary treatment. Credit: Mark E. Brady, PGFD PIO
Otis, a 2-year-old Chihuahua, was revived after a Bowie house fire last year. But he died days later because his owners couldn't afford followup veterinary treatment. Credit: Mark E. Brady, PGFD PIO

Two dogs rescued near death from a Bowie house fire last fall were revived by firefighters at the scene, only to see one of pets die a few days later because its owners couldn’t afford the needed follow-up veterinarian care.

The loss of a family pet that could have been saved has inspired Prince George’s County firefighters and animal advocates to establish a fund that pays for emergency veterinarian care. A fire department spokesman says it is one of the first such ventures in the country.

In October 2013 firefighters rescued two dogs, Mylo and Otis, from the burnt-out remains of a Bowie home. The dogs were lifeless, but were resuscitated by firefighters using donated pet oxygen masks.

Fire investigators working with the family on a cause of the fire saw the dogs’ conditions deteriorate because the family could not afford to obtain the needed vet care to treat the dogs’ burns and smoke inhalation, said department spokesman Mark E. Brady.

The department worked to find a vet who could provide care to the pets. By the time appropriate care was located, it was too late for Otis, a 2-year-old Chihuahua, which died at the vet’s office.

“If vet care had been initiated earlier, there is the real possibility that both family pets would have survived,” Brady said Monday in a release.

Mylo, a 3-year-old Chihuahua, survived his injuries thanks to vet care.

The Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department and the SPCA of Anne Arundel County worked together, and with support from the Prince George's County Animal Management Division, have created the "PGFD and SPCA Sparky Fire Fund."

This fund will allow a family pet in an emergency to be taken to select 24-hour veterinarians and receive immediate care. Payment will be made through this fund, which will be managed by the SPCA.

Now, when a pet is found to be suffering from a fire injury or smoke inhalation and the family cannot afford care or is not available to care for the pet, authorization will be given to have the pet taken to one of the selected vets for treatment. The "PGFD and SPCA Sparky Fire Fund" will ensure care is initiated and payment guaranteed to the vet.

This is believed to be one of the first programs of this type involving fire departments and the SPCA, Brady said.

Donations from are residents are needed to help other animals hurt in future emergencies. 

“Our goal is to meet the expenses of pet owners who find themselves in situations similar to that of Mylo’s and Otis’ owner,” Brady said. “Your generous donations will provide immediate veterinary care for pets affected by house fires in Prince George’s County.

Donations may be made on-line by clicking here. Be sure to indicate that your donation is for the PGFD SPCA Sparky Fire Fund.

Donations may also be sent by mail and should be sent to: SPCA of Anne Arundel County, PGFD & SPCA Sparky Fire Fund, 1815 Bay Ridge Avenu, Annapolis, MD 21403.


DeDe April 14, 2014 at 08:46 AM
Vet bills are very expensive, as well as medication. Sometimes pet owners have to make heartbreaking choices. You can tell that by the amount of animals that are given up for adoption at shelters.
Kat April 14, 2014 at 09:26 AM
I agree, this is a very big conundrum! I work at a Vet Hospital and it is amazing (scary!!) how many people don't really have the means to care for their pets properly....I personally don't know what to say because I would say "don't get a pet if you don't have the money" (and I would say the same about kids!!), but on the other hand, I can totally understand people wanting to live with an animal as I wouldn't want to be without one (not, of course, if it's for other reasons such as mentioned by a previous poster, I agree on that!!)....Veterinary care in this country is so ludicrously expensive, and it's true that we don't normally do payment plans.....As I said, total conundrum!! More foundations like this would be fabulous!!!
Anastasia April 14, 2014 at 11:24 AM
This was sad to hear, and compelled me to donate to the fund.
Tag-Along April 14, 2014 at 12:56 PM
There's a group of wonderful volunteers in Philly that run a emergency relief team for animals involved in house fires. They do fantastic work, and ask the public for help with transport and donations to help offset the medical costs. I honestly believe this is something that should be offered in all counties in every state. That is something Red Paw would LOVE to see! http://redpawemergencyreliefteam.com/
Tag-Along April 14, 2014 at 01:01 PM
And for those who can't afford to care for their pets there are programs and organization out there that try to do what they can and help supplement food and find discounted care. Luna's House has a food pantry and NoKillHarford is just starting to get going but are looking to offer subsidies. (Both are located in Harford County) And I know most low income families can't get credit cards or don't want to use them, Care Credit is not a regular credit card. It's for use for medical care INCLUDING our pets. You have to make sure your vet accepts the card and the payment plans they accept. Some only accept the 6 month plan. I have been fortunate to not need any of those services but I'm glad to know they are indeed out there. People just don't know and it's a shame


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