SUPPORTERS of the canine oxygen mask charity, Smokey Paws, this week presented Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service with six sets of life-saving equipment for man’s four-legged friends.

The local group from Melksham presented the equipment to firefighters at their local fire station on Monday.

The initiative came from greyhound owners Ann and Steve Stanford and their friend Mary Jackson, accompanied by their greyhounds, Lady, Rio and Shimmer.

The station is the first in the two counties to be properly trained to use the oxygen masks, designed to save the lives of pets caught in house fires.

Mrs Stanford said they raised the funds for the masks from monthly sighthound walks over the past year and a car boot sale at the Forest Community Centre in Melksham in June.

“We have raised more than £550 to supply Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service with six sets of the life-saving oxygen masks. One set of three masks costs £90.

“Melksham firemen have been the first crew to be trained to use the masks in Wiltshire and Dorset. The masks come in various sizes and are designed to fit over the noses of pets.”

In response, the fire service has provided a grasper and a pair of rabies gloves for every fire engine that carries the Smokey Paws kit at a cost of around £70 for each.

Louise Knox, spokesperson for Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Given that firefighters would always try to save an animal’s life as well as those of humans, this small investment merely provides an additional level of safety for both the crews and the animals.”

The Melksham group organised a raffle at the car boot sale in June and asked one of the fire crew to draw the winning ticket during their visit.

The first prize, a hamper of doggy treats and other useful items, will be presented to the winner at the Forest Community Centre fun day on Saturday.