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A Growing Trend in Illinois: Pet CPR

Evanston cat owner Nura Aly              Photo credit: Mary Anne Meyers
Evanston cat owner Nura Aly Photo credit: Mary Anne Meyers
January 7, 2013

CHICAGO - For years veterinarians have been encouraging pet owners to trim their pets' nails and brush their teeth, and now more and more pet owners and dog walkers are encouraged to learn animal CPR. It is taught all over the country, including several times a year at the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago.

Before she became the Chicago group's president, Dr. Robyn Barbiers worked in emergency care at the Lincoln Park Zoo, where she had to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to chimps, a tapir and even one time a lion. She says the course does teach mouth-to-mouth, or in some cases, mouth-to-nose.

"Like if you had a Rottweiler, it would be really hard to seal around the dog's mouth. So you may just put something over its mouth and do mouth-to-nose. So, it depends on the anatomy of your pet."

It's a Red Cross certification course that uses mannequins, not real animals. Besides CPR, pet owners learn how to splint broken bones and provide first aid for all kinds of emergencies.

Barbiers says these are skills that could make a huge difference.

"How to safely transport an injured animal, what to do if you cut your pet's nail too short. That's not life-threatening, but it produces a lot of blood. So, what to do in that case."

More than likely, she says, you'll never have to perform CPR on your pet, but you may wind up using the first aid.

"That is more likely to happen that your pet is going to get a cut paw or some serious injury that you need to know how to deal with while you are transporting your pet to the veterinarian's office."

Barbiers says the course is not about treating your animal, just providing comfort and care until you can get to the vet. The next class is January 12.

More information is at AntiCruelty.org and at RedCross.org.

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - IL