Wisconsin may allow first responders to aid pets

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Some Wisconsin lawmakers are pushing to change state law and allow first responders to treat pets when responding to an emergency.

Wisconsin’s veterinarian practice act only allows for veterinarians to give animals aid, WDJT-TV reported.

Two bills are in committee in the state Legislature that would give first responders immunity for treating animals during an emergency call. It would also protect responders who don’t aid animals.

Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine and Kenosha’s fire departments have specialized equipment to aid animals.

“It’s in our nature to try to help people and I think a lot of us are animal lovers,” said Kira Benkert, a Waukesha firefighter.

But the departments don’t receive special training for handling animals nor do they have a written protocol for saving animals. All the departments prioritize saving human life first.

Jared Mickler was watching a football game in September when he started to smell fire. Mickler was able to get most of his dogs out of the house before the fire department arrived. But 9-year-old Mizu, a miniature pinscher mix, was still in the house.

“I called for her and could hear her crying. So I tried to go in. I tried twice and I just couldn’t do it,” said Mickler.

The fire department was able to rescue Mizu from the home and treated her with an oxygen mask at the scene. A veterinarian then cared for the dog’s burnt paws and cough that was caused by the smoke. Benkert also cared for Mickler’s four cats.

“I would want someone to save my pet so we did what we thought would be right for them,” said Benkert.

Twenty-two other states in the U.S. allow first responders to provide animals with care.

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