Pet owners and pet professionals came from Staten Island, Manhattan and - of course - Brooklyn to learn what to do when a pet is choking, bleeding, having an allergic reaction or is unconscious.
Taught by Brooklyn Bark's Bark Master, Helen, who is a certified PetTech instructor students learned how to think and act in an emergency.
"The first thing," Instructor Helen told the class, "is that you don't want one emergency to become two. Although there are many similarities between CPR/first aid for humans and pets, there is one great dissimilarity. A human in distress will not try to bite his rescuer."
So before the class addressed actions to stop bleeding or treat a fracture, they learned how to approach the distressed dog or cat so that they wouldn't become emergency #2.
"An animal in pain or about to be moved into pain, can and will bite" cautioned instructor Helen as students learned to approach from behind while speaking calmly, how to restrain and how to fashion materials on hand such as shoelaces or a t-shirt into a temporary muzzle before approaching the pet in distress. "Even your own dog, crazed by pain, can and will bite," the instructor warned.
Students learned when to help nature take her course, such as straddling a choking dog - or putting smaller one who is choking under your arm - and compressing the chest with each gagging. "Dogs' and cats' anatomy is different enough from ours that an actual Heimlich maneuver can cause severe damage. Consider this a 'modified Heimlich' for pets," Helen cautioned.
Before moving to CPR, the class reviewed their homework which was to locate their own pet's femoral artery. It is on the inside of the back leg and the easiest place to take a pet's pulse. Brooklyn Bark's owner, Rachel, and her Corgi, Radar, demonstrated. Radar let all the students practice on him in return for tummy rubs.
The class learned rescue breathing followed by full CPR. "Do two breaths followed by 15 heart pumps four times. Then cross over to check the femoral pulse. By crossing your arms over the unconscious pet you are in a position to restrain him if he comes to."
"How many times do you do this?" one student asked.
"Until the pet revives; until you hand it over to the emergency vet; or until you collapse yourself."
"And remember to have someone contact the vet that you are on your way so that they can meet you with the appropriate cart already set up," the class was reminded.
Instruction began and ended with three take-aways:
- #1 is your safety. You don't want two emergencies where there originally was one.
- Most pet emergencies happen when your family veterinarian's office is closed. There are three emergency vet facillities in Brooklyn. Know where they are and how to contact them.
- Stay calm and do something positive. It doesn't have to be textbook perfect to succeed.
This PetSaver certification class was part of the Brooklyn Bark / FIDO seminar series, "Your Dog is Smart; Now it's Your Turn." Seminars are the second Thursday of each month. A list of upcoming seminars is on the Brooklyn Bark website.
With a number of pet owners who were closed out of this class, BBark/FIDO will be running the class again in early 2013. To be put on a waiting list, contact BarkMaster@BklynBark.com.
All members of the Brooklyn Bark staff are PetSaver certified.