MIDWEST CITY, Oklahoma - Non-profit organization “Air for Paws” recently donated three pet oxygen mask kits to the Midwest City Fire Department.

The organization provides fire and rescue personnel with special resuscitation kits that can save the lives of family pets.

Fire officials said it's not uncommon for them to encounter animals in distress at house fires. In the past, firefighters might have tried to help a pet suffering from smoke inhalation by using a mask designed for a human. But those masks do not fit an animal snout snugly enough to be effective.

The new pet masks are designed specifically for use on pets. The masks come in small and large, so that animals of different sizes can be aided.

According to the fire department, an estimated 40,000 pets die each year due to smoke inhalation. Pets are particularly susceptible to smoke inhalation because they tend to take cover under a bed or in a closet in the event of a fire. Making oxygen available at the scene of a fire can make the difference between life and death for a pet.

Fire crews will soon be trained on the new equipment, and these three kits will be placed on fire engines throughout the city starting in April. Future plans may expand the program to outfit animal control and police K-9 units.