Humane Society hosts pet first aid class

Greg Johnson/The News

Some of Murray’s concerned cat and dog owners attended the Pet First Aid Course sponsored by the Humane Society of Calloway County on April 14.

Pet First Aid is designed to prepare pet owners to deal with injuries or life threatening situations with their animals and keep themselves safe.

Attendees learned how to respond to a wide range of animal emergencies such as dressing a wound, how to give a dog or cat CPR, how to take their temperatures and monitor their behavior.

Shawn Maxwell, Red Cross first aid educator and owner of Tenders, pet-sitting and housesitting service in Murray, instructed the four-hour class Saturday.

Maxwell said the Pet First Aid Course began 20 years ago and is offered whenever there are enough people interested.

She said she hopes people who participated in the class will share what they have learned with other pet owners.

“Help educate others,” Maxwell said. “The class has gotten expensive and I feel bad some people may not be able to afford the class.”

The four hour course cost attendees $40.

She said since animals cannot speak for themselves, it is the job of the owners to be a voice and help them when they are sick or hurt.

“It will save a life,” Maxwell said. “That is the most important thing.”

Maxwell used an instructional DVD along with stuffed animals to demonstrate the proper safety mechanisms.

Maxwell said in case of emergency, pet owners should always keep a first aid kit in their car packed with items such as gauze, tape and plywood. Keeping the kit in a car will allow someone to always be prepared to help an animal in need.

Gauze can be used to stop external bleeding on a dog or cat and plywood can be used to lift the animal without injuring them further.

It is important pet owners should check their animals pulse on a regular basis and understand what a healthy heart rate is for them.

She said a normal size dog should have a pulse of 60 to 160 beats per minute.

Maxwell said before people help an animal in need they should put a muzzle on the dog or cat to prevent them from being bitten.

Even if the person knows the dog well, they should still use a muzzle because any animal in pain has the potential to injure someone else, Maxwell said.

She said if people do not have a muzzle available, they could tie a piece of cloth around the nose of the animal.

Jason Billington, from Murray, said he decided to take the class after a dog that had been shot wandered into his barn.

Billington said he wants to be prepared for animal emergencies so he can help his own pets at home.

“I have two dogs and two cats so there is always something happening,” he said. “I know I probably bother the vet too much when something happens at home on the weekends.”

Jerri Mjos, from Murray, said after attending the Pet First Aid she would be able to help any of her six dogs in need.

She said she would recommend all pet owners take the class so they know how to handle an emergency situation.

“I think it is always beneficial for you to know how to take care of your pet in an emergency,” Mjos said. “Many times we are not ready and we tend to panic.”