These CPR classes have gone to the dogs

These CPR classes have gone to the dogs »Play Video
Cole goes from golden retriever to guinea pig Wednesday to help emergency personnel learn how to provide first aid to animals.

CLACKAMAS, Ore. – What started as a way to protect police dogs is spreading to your family pets.

From putting on bandages to finding a pulse and giving CPR, first responders are now getting classroom lessons on saving animals, especially since they take plenty of them to the emergency room.

"The heart-wrenching thing is when you know somebody could have done something before they ever get there," said veterinarian Dr. Heidi Houchen. "That really matters. And you want to help them do what they can in the field before they get to the vet."

In the classes EMTs practice on real animals and also use pet manikins.

More and more emergency crews are using animal CPR techniques in the field, and still more want to know how to do it.

"I have an equine hospital for horses," said Kim Weaver with the Hoodland Fire District. "I've learned a lot about that, but I haven't learned anything about dogs. So that's why I'm doing dogs."

And just as important as jump-starting a cat's heart or splinting a dog's broken leg is "they're teaching us how to muzzle a dog so we don’t get bit by them," said Weaver.

The instructors even learn from the students.

"They ask questions we haven't heard before," said Houchen. "Like what can be transmitted from humans to dogs and dogs to humans – (also) gunshot wound questions, and impalement questions. They are an incredibly well-educated population to teach."

So many emergency personnel wanted to take the class, several more have been scheduled. Some of those with even more advanced and specialized training.