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First Aid and CPR Classes
for Companion Animals
By Patricia Collier

Did you hear the (true) story about the dog who hanged himself? He was a German sheperd named Moses and authorities credit his guardian's quick thinking - and CPR skills - with saving his life.

Seems old Moses tried to jump out of the driver's side window of his guardian's car, but he was still on his leash, got all tangled up, and literally hanged himself. Moses's human had just popped into a store for a minute and when she came back to the car, her boy wasn't breathing, his eyes were glassy and his tongue had already turned black.

Moses's guardian and a kind passerby immediately performed canine CPR and Moses has long since made a complete recovery.

That's what first aid and CPR classes for pets is all about. You never know when you might literally save your pet's life by being able to perform rescue breathing, CPR, or basic first aide steps until you can get your dog or cat to a veterinarian. These classes are great whether you are a full time Florida resident or a winter guest. They're also great for those who work with dogs and cats on a regular basis, such as groomers, pet sitters and rescue group volunteers.

Our pets can get into all kinds of trouble, such as drowning, choking, electrical shock, poisonous plants and odd bugs around the sunshine state and other situations that demand immediate emergency attention. Specialized training is needed because CPR is different for animals, i.e., they have different metabolic, respiration and heart rates than humans. The very worst time to learn CPR is when you need to perform it, so make time for a class soon.

Pet first aid classes commonly present symptoms and care for common ailments and emergencies, offer instructions for creating a pet first aid kit and provide tips on maintaining your pet's health and well-being. Simply put: learning first aid and CPR skills for pets gives us human guardians the confidence needed to save our best friend's life when he or she needs us the most.

The American Red Cross offers several pet first aid and CPR classes at various chapters around the state of Florida. Here is a partial list which we try to keep updated as we get the info. If you can't find a class in your area, contact your local American Red Cross offices.

Charlotte County Chapter of the American Red Cross

Class dates: TBA. Cost is $25 and includes all course materials. To register, call 941-629-4345 or 941-473-9891.

Duval County Chapter of the American Red Cross

Class dates: TBA. Classes are held at 751 Riverside Avenue in Jacksonville. The cost is $35 per participant and includes the Pet First Aid Book. To register using a credit card, call Heidi at 904-358-8091, ext. 1818.

Martin County Chapter of the American Red Cross

Class dates: TBA. Classes are held at 2700 S. Kanner Highway. The 4-hour course includes how to save a pet's lives in an emergency and includes mouth-to-snout CPR. Fee is $25 and includes book and supplies. For exact dates, call Jim Hagen at 772-287-2002.

Polk County Chapter of the American Red Cross

Class dates: TBA. Cost is $20. To register, call 1-888-220-9118.

Space Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross

Class dates: TBA. Classes are held at the David R. Schechter Community Center in Satellite Beach. The cost is $30 and includes a pet first aid guide book. Call 321-723-7141 to inquire about current month's schedule of classes or check out the FloridaPet.net Calendar of Events for current month's class date.

NOTE: Both the North Treasure Coast Chapter (contact 772-562-2549) and the Tampa Bay Chapter (contact 813-348-4820) said they would arrange classes if enough people requested them.

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