EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – This past week, the Borderland has seen two separate fires that have killed pets who were in the house alone. One of those homes belonged to Mesilla volunteer firefighter captain Andrew Embury.
Embury was not home when the fire broke out but when he heard about the incident, he immediately returned home. While he is trained as a firefighter, he said he did what pet owners are not supposed to do and ran inside to try to save them but did not make it in time.
“It is excruciating to know that my pets were inside and that I couldn’t save them,” he said.
The second fire was in a home in Northeast El Paso that also claimed the life of two dogs who were left in the home alone. Now, the El Paso Fire Department wants to step in to let pet owners know the options they have if they or their pets are caught in a fire.
While it does not happen often, pets do die in housefires when they are left alone. When they are trapped in a fire, they don’t run outside to safety which ends up costing them their lives.
“Most of the time, they will stay inside. They will hide and they will try to protect themselves and they will stay inside and usually they end up suffocating because of the smoke,” Enrique Duenas-Aguilar, the El Paso Fire Department’ PIO’s public information officer.
Including your pet in your fire escape plan is one of the many ways to make sure your pet will leave your home safely. Duenas-Aguilar explained this will help them know when and how to leave.
“You can train them to come over when you call them. That’s a very important part as well so you can escape with them and also to keep leashes next to the door so either firefighters can come in so we can grab them in case we need to tie them or so that way you can put the leash on them so you can come out.”
As a firefighter himself Embury knows that while pets are like family, he knows that if they are left behind in the home do not run back inside and let the firefighter know they are there.
“People should not go into their homes and try to rescue their dogs. They’re our babies. They’re our pets and it’s a huge risk,” he said.
Firefighters are trained to get pets to safety if they are trapped in the home. However, one way to alert them to their presence if you are not home is to place a sticker somewhere visible like a window or the front door.
This will notify them that there are pets in the home and they will make sure that the animals are not left behind.
“You can write down there all the information about how many dogs how many cats any kind of birds or animals you have inside so that way the fire department knows there’s pets still inside in the home and they look for them.”
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