May 20--BUTLER COUNTY -- A bill that will allow first responders to provide medical treatment to dogs and cats has unanimously passed out of the General Assembly and is now headed to Gov. John Kasich's desk to sign.
Pets who are often considered a part of a family "and they should receive treatment if necessary or life-threatening situations," said Meg Stephenson, executive director of the Animal Friends Humane Society.
The bill would allow first responders to open and manually maintain an airway, administer oxygen, control a hemorrhage, and -- if authorized -- administer Narcan.
"The intent is to allow emergency responders to provide basic first aid so the animal can be safely transported to a veterinarian for further care and treatment," said Jack Advent, executive director of the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association. "The bill simply allows animals to receive critical care at the earliest possible moment, which is in the best interest of the animal."
House Bill 187 has the support by several organizations, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Ohio Voters for Companion Animals, Inc., the Ohio Fire Chiefs' Association and Ohio Veterinary Medical Association.
And the OVMA worked with Rep. Tim Ginter, R-Salem, to develop the protocols outlined in the bill.
"It's a huge benefit to our community, it's a huge benefit to homeowners and pet owners," Stephenson said. "It's going to give those animals that instant treatment, that life-supportive care."
Monroe Fire Department Chief John Centers said it's good to have a bill like this because there isn't always rapid treatment available for pets.
"This takes it up another tier that we weren't previously able to do," he said.
But Centers, as well as Hamilton fire Chief Steve Dawson, said the nuances of the bill -- which wouldn't take effect until 90 days after Kasich's expected signature -- still need to be examined, such as the impact on budgets and training for EMTs and paramedics.
"We already have some animal resuscitation kits that had been donated ... but we definitely need to take a look at it," Dawson said.
Like Hamilton, Monroe and many other departments have kits to provide mouth to snout resuscitation and the ability to provide oxygen to a dog or cat.
"It is probably something that's going to be looked upon very closely by the public," Centers said.
Stephenson said this bill will give families peace of mind to know that pets have the opportunity to be treated sooner rather than later.
"Many times when when houses are on fire and animals are removed, they have smoke inhalation, they have damage from that," she said. "To be able to immediately provide oxygen, immediately provide resuscitation and very critical care on site is going to give that much more of a chance for those animals to survive those cases and again reunite them with their families."