PETS: BIG BREATH, AND BARK

Found on the bathroom floor, the 3-year-old victim of a house fire appeared lifeless. Boynton Beach, Fla., firefighter William Drumm administered oxygen immediately. "She started biting the mask and looking around," he says. Thanks to a canine oxygen mask, Diva, a pit bull, survived the smoke inhalation.

Once the province of veterinarians, pet oxygen masks have become a valuable tool for firefighters. The masks fit snugly around animal snouts, providing more oxygen than human masks. Best Friends Pet Care, a Connecticut-based pet salon, began equipping firehouses nationwide with the masks last July; the salon raises funds together with community groups and purchases masks for local fire departments. Each set costs $50 and includes three mask sizes: for small dogs, large dogs and cats. So far, 3,000 masks have reached 154 fire departments in 18 states. But pets aren't the only ones who are breathing easier: firefighters can now avoid mouth-to-mouth.