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BOISE -- Firefighters come to the rescue when we need them the most. They save our homes, our family members, and even our pets. They are true heroes.

What you may not know, is that the Boise Fire Department has special equipment on all fire engines for rescuing pets in distress.

And they use that equipment more than you think.

Firefighter Matt Lutz says when they got to the scene of a reported cardiac arrest in northwest Boise last month, they learned an elderly woman had passed away in her apartment. Her pug Bernie was close to death.

Bernie was probably severely dehydrated and probably hadn't had food or care for quite some time, said Lutz. He was having some real trouble breathing. I asked the captain if I could work on the dog. He said 'absolutely, go for it.'

Pictures of the firefighters treating little Bernie touched animal lovers all over the Treasure Valley. Lutz and his fellow firefighters gave Bernie oxygen and did what they could to bring him back.

I got an IV established in one of his little legs, and gave him a bowl of some fluid, said Lutz.

He was looking better, but sadly, Bernie didn't survive. He died 12 hours later.

I was very touched by Bernie, he was a cute little pug, said Lutz.

Lutz says it's not uncommon for firefighters to try to rescue pets. It's just part of the job -- People come first, and then their pets.

Here at the Boise Fire Department, we carry EMS equipment on all of our engines and our trucks, said Lutz.

Each truck and engine is also equipped with life-saving pet equipment, donated by an animal lovers group called the Dog House. One important piece of equipment is a small oxygen mask, that fits most pets.

Lutz has even given animals mouth to mouth, if needed.

I usually call it mouth to snout, Lutz said. But yes, we do mouth to mouth or mouth to snout on dogs and cats.

In March of 2008, Boise Fire was called to a home in the North End. The house became fully engulfed by flames in minutes. The two people inside got out safely, but their pets were trapped upstairs, so firefighters rushed in.

I turned over the first bed and there was the dog said Captain Randy Christensen. He had enough smoke and wasn't that afraid of me. I carried him down the ladder and handed him off, and she was just tickled.

And just before Christmas in 2011, a trailer caught fire in a parking lot on Broadway in Boise.
Inside were two cats, two dogs and a new litter of puppies.

When we popped the door open, one of the puppies fell out and we were pretty sure there were more in there, said firefighter Brian Barber.

Firefighters jumped into rescue mode. The animals were given oxygen and rushed to the Idaho Humane Society for care.

They are brand new little balls of life, and you want to save them, said Barber. I think everyone has a soft spot for animals.

Barber eventually adopted one of the puppies he saved. Now that puppy is all grown up and named Smokey Joe .

We'll definitely, like I said, do anything we can to help people's animals, said Lutz.

Boise Firefighters have proved time and time again, they have a heart for our four legged friends. And that's why they're this week's 7's Heroes.

If you'd like to help donate animal oxygen masks and rescue equipment, you can do that through the Boise Fire Union Burnout Fund, at the address below.

Boise Fire Department
Local 149 Burn Out Fund
333 N. Mark Stall Place
Boise, ID 83704

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