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Ciminelli donation equips Buffalo firefighters with oxygen masks for pets

Buffalo has spent some $26 million on new Fire Department equipment, but a call from a dog-lover – connected to a prominent development company – identified some equipment still missing.

Oxygen masks for pets.

That is why Ann Louise Ciminelli arrived in City Hall on Thursday with 53 masks, as well as Minnie, her very well-behaved West Highland terrier.

Ciminelli and her husband, Louis Ciminelli, chairman and CEO of LP Ciminelli, donated the masks to the city. They have a value of about $5,000.

“We have a lot of new equipment, but didn’t have these,” Fire Commissioner Garnell W. Whitfield said of the masks.

He didn’t have any yearly statistics, but said he knows that a couple of dogs died in fires in the past couple of months. There have been many other instances, he said, when firefighters saved animals, sometimes by giving them mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Now a pet oxygen mask will be placed on all fire trucks in the city’s 19 firehouses.

“Buffalo firefighters do a tremendous job rescuing pets from burning structures, but unfortunately many pets perish from smoke asphyxiation and that’s why we wanted to give this life-saving device to the Fire Department,” Ann Louise Ciminelli said in a prepared statement.

Mayor Byron W. Brown and Whitfield accepted the donation, and thanked the Ciminelli family.

“Pets are more than pets, they are members of our families,” Brown said.