National Pet Fire Safety Day: July 15 - PetFirst
National Pet Fire Safety Day: July 15
Pet Care & Health

National Pet Fire Safety Day: July 15

by MetLife Pet Insurance
2 years ago

After hearing about pet oxygen masks during a Pet First Aid class in 2008, Debra Jo Chiapuzio3, learned everything she could about these life-saving animal devices and created the Emma Zen Foundation4, named after her beloved Great Lab Dane, Emma Zen. 

Each year, The Emma Zen Foundation has a booth at local fairgrounds to spread the word about pet safety. One day, while at an event, Chiapuzio had an impactful encounter with a guest. 

“A lady walked up, and I made eye contact amidst the crowd, letting her know I would be right with her,” Chiapuzio said. “As she scanned our booth, I could tell she was getting emotional, so I asked how I could help. The woman said, ‘You are the ones that donated pet oxygen masks to our county’s firefighters, and I came here today to find you and thank you. Our dog jumped up and turned on the stovetop, and a towel on top set the place ablaze!’ She was weeping and next blurted out with raw emotion, ‘We lost it all! It’s all gone. We lost it all, but we have our animals!’”

Both the family’s dog and a cat were rescued. The family was living in someone else’s spare bedroom, and the woman told Chiapuzio she no longer recognized her life, but she looked her directly in the eyes, and said, “We lost it all, but we have everything! Thank you for providing pet oxygen masks to our local fire department.” 

The Emma Zen Foundation has donated more than 3,500 pet oxygen mask kits5 to First Responders throughout the United States and works to spread the word about pet fire safety. 

According to the American Kennel Club, More than 500,0006 pets are affected by house fires every year, resulting in smoke inhalation, severe burns, and worse! National Pet Fire Safety Day, created by the American Kennel Club and ADT Security Services, is celebrated on July 15th to help bring awareness and protect pets from the dangers of fires.

This is a PURRfect time for you to put plans in place that ensure everyone can get out of the house safely in event of a fire. 

Preparing for the Worst

Make an emergency plan that includes your pet. Everyone who is old enough to be at home alone needs to know how to evacuate all people and animals, along with grabbing emergency supplies.  Assigning roles is a good idea in the event everyone is home when an emergency happens.

  • Pets need to be taken through the drills of getting in harnesses or crates, going out a potentially different door than usual, and proceeding to a safe location. 
  • If you have a multi-story home, it is possible the only escape will be out a window, so that too is something everyone (two-legged and four-pawed) must practice in advance.
  • Know where your dog or cat likes to hide and how to retrieve them when time is of the essence.  
  • When left alone, keep pets in rooms where they are easy to spot and make sure collars are on and leashes are near the door in case a rescue is necessary.  
  • Be sure mischievous, as well as young, pups are confined in crates or behind a baby gate so that they cannot start a fire when you are away.
  • Install smoke detectors connected to an emergency response service, so that if a fire starts, help will be signaled and dispatched.

“My personal emergency plan includes dog training – sit, stay and come can save your pet’s life,” said Chiapuzio. “I know my pets’ hiding places.  I have ‘In Case of Emergency, Save My Pet stickers’ at my front door, back, and side windows. I have fast accessibility to emergency crates, and I have the respect to let firefighters do their job.”  

Make a Quick Escape

If you’ve planned ahead, all you need to do is round-up the troops and keep everyone together. 

“Every firefighter will tell you ‘Do NOT rush back in to save your pet!’ said Chiapuzio. “It is one of the hardest things for a pet lover to hear. There are so many untold stories of human death when someone goes back in after Fido. While I completely understand this inclination, I have to put my faith in sticking to the plan.” 

If your pet is not able to escape the fire and dangers inform the responders that your pet is still inside once they arrive. 

Preventing a Fire in the First Place

Chiapuzio said that more than one firefighter has shared with her that 50% of home fires start in the kitchen7. To prevent your pets from being hurt or even starting a fire, Chiapuzio suggests keeping pets out of the kitchen. 

“Stand by your pan!  Too often these days, we toddle off to the computer while dinner is on the stove. Stay in the kitchen and supervise!” Chiapuzio said. “The question firefighters ask me is, ‘What are pets doing in the kitchen?’ so I’ve established a NO KITCHEN RULE! I know, pets love food, so I worked hard with my brood tossing treats for “good sits” in the dining room. We now have a line-up of well-behaved animals, out of harms way.” 

Additionally, it’s important to remember that unsupervised candles or a fire in the fireplace are just a few other dangers in the house that can also spell trouble too. 

  • Use flameless candles in case kitty’s tail knocks one over.
  • Place covers over stove knobs just in case a pet bumps against one accidentally filling the house with gas.
  • Some pets chew on wires given the chance, turning lamps and other electronics into potential fire hazards. Secure wires and keep them, and all dangers, out of paws and claws reach.

As we take part in National Pet Fire Safety Day today, Chiapuzio shared a final safety tip for fire preparedness and pet parents. 

“Pets don’t necessarily start the fires, often they just push the clutter closer to the flames,” Chiapuzio said. “Pizza boxes, homework, newspapers, paper towels are all things we might find on kitchen counters. Tidiness just may be the new preparedness!” 

Here at PetFirst1, we know accidents and illnesses happen to all pets. PetFirst Pet Insurance1 can help cover unexpected vet visits2 and can provide peace of mind. PetFirst Pet Insurance1  has cat and dog insurance policies2 as well as Routine Care Coverage2 to fit every budget. Consider getting pet insurance for your furry friend today.


1PetFirst Healthcare, LLC (“PetFirst Pet Insurance” or “PetFirst”) is the program administrator authorized to offer and administer pet health insurance policies underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company, a Delaware insurance company, with its main office at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, or New Hampshire Insurance Company or The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, each with its main administrative office at 500 West Madison Street, Suite 3000 Chicago, IL 60661. For costs, complete details of coverage, and a listing of approved states, please contact PetFirst Healthcare, LLC.
2Like most insurance policies, insurance policies offered by PetFirst Healthcare, LLC contain certain exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force.
3Debra Jo Chiapuzio: The Emma Zen Foundation
4The Emma Zen Foundation
5The Emma Zen Foundation: Mask & Kit Information
6American Kennel Club
7Debra Jo Chiapuzio: The Emma Zen Foundation
Denise Fleck is the Pet Safety Crusader™ having personally taught more than 20,000 humans to rescue Rover or help Fluffy feel better.  Her mission is to help YOU make a difference in the life of an animal through Pet First-Aid, Senior Pet Care and Disaster Preparedness classes, her “The Pet Safety Bible,” and the dozen other books she has penned.  Learn more at

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