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Mouth-to-Snout Resuscitation Saves Dog's Life

Coda was rescued from a burning house fire in Wisconsin.

ByABC News
October 21, 2011, 3:42 PM

Oct. 22, 2011— -- Kim Carlson thought her 7-year old Labrador retriever Coda was dead when she saw firefighters carry him out of her burning home, limp and unmoving. But firefighter Jamie Giese moved quickly to give Coda mouth to snout resuscitation,

Giese cupped his hands around the dog's muzzle. Although he said Coda's mouth had quite a bit of soot, snot and phlegm, he began breathing into the dog's mouth as it struggled for air.

"The only thing we could do was mouth to snout. I didn't think twice about it," Giese told He wasn't sure how long he assisted before Coda could breathe alone, but "it felt like forever."

That was on Tuesday, and today Coda is thriving.

"He's perfect, he's absolutely wonderful," Carlson said. "He's got a little bit of cough, and we're assuming it's phlegm from the smoke, but he did real good."

Carlson and Todd Borchardt, her fiancé, returned from a motorcycle ride on Tuesday to find that their Wausau, Wis., home was on fire.

Wausau Fire Department believes the flames were caused by a faulty box fan in Carlson and Borchardt's bedroom, Carlson said.

When Carlson realized Coda, adopted by the family just two days earlier, was still inside the burning building her instinct was to race up the stairs to find her dog.

"In your heart and in your brain you know you should never do that, go back into a burning house," Carlson said. "But my adrenaline was going so fast that I was determined to get him."

Borchardt stopped Carlson from entering the house. Instead, firefighters found the pooch and retrieved Coda from the second-story bedroom. The dog was unresponsive, but still breathing, Batallion Chief Doug Beulla said.

Giese, who was assisting other firefighters outside the house when Coda was carried out, said he didn't hesitate to revive the dog with mouth to snout resuscitation. He and firefighter Jared Thompson carried the dog to the front of the yard and called for oxygen and a mask.

The firefighters also dowsed Coda with water to cool the dog down.

While Giese worked with Coda, Thompson was on the phone with the emergency veterinarian's office. Coda was taken to the VCA Companion Care Animal Hospital, where veterinarian Brandy Kosterman and her team administered oxygen by mask and examined the dog for injuries. Coda's blood pressure was high, indicating stress, but there were no visible burns or scrapes.

For Kosterman, the mouth to snout resuscitation on site was crucial to the dog's survival.

"These people definitely went above and beyond. There's no question that the firemen saved this dog," Kosterman said.

Giese, a dog owner himself, said he and his colleagues were able to come to Coda's aid because all the firefighters on site worked so well as a team.

"We train all the time, and we're a tight knit crew," he said. "People in my profession, we to this [mouth to mouth rescusitation] all the time with humans, every day across the country."