Pet Project

Know how to give CPR to a lizard? According to one of the illustrated handouts in the Arizona Red Cross Pet First Aid course, there are four steps. The first two are my personal favorites: 1. "Scoop lizard from pool"; and 2. "Shake out lizard."

Clear so far? From there we move on to step 3. "Massage lizard's torso, applying on and off pressure, directly behind frontal legs." And then, for the true Samaritans among us, comes step 4. "Apply mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to lizard's mouth, breathing slowly and forcefully."

Now, I regard myself as an animal lover, and as it happens, I have a special fondness for lizards--I might even be called an amateur herpetologist. But if I found a lizard floating in a pool, showing no vital signs, I might be inclined to think its time had come, offer a prayer for its tiny reptilian soul, and simply leave it at that.

Of course, having taken the class, a joint project of the Red Cross and the Humane Society of the United States, I might feel differently now. These instructors don't discriminate against victims on the basis of taxonomical order--students are taught how to respond if "illness, injury, drowning, eye injuries, gunshot wounds, contact with poisonous substances, burns, snake or insect bites, heat stroke, seizures, electric shock and a host of other ailments requiring a quick response" should befall your bird, potbellied pig, iguana, dog or cat.

The last two species, however, are the focus of the three-hour, $25 workshop for fretful pet owners. There are even hilariously bedraggled CPR mannequins (er, petequins?)--named, respectively, Jerry and Fluffy--on which to try out your human/canine and human/feline mouth-to-mouth technique.

Then, while you're spitting fake fur soaked with rubbing alcohol for the next hour after your practice session with Jerry and Fluffy, remind yourself that you've done it all for the love of your little pals at home.

--M. V. Moorhead

The next "Pet First Aid" course is scheduled from 8:45 a.m. to noon Saturday, October 24, at the Virginia Piper Center (Red Cross Central Chapter), 6135 North Black Canyon. The fee is $25, and includes a $10 book. Volunteers are also needed to promote the Pet First Aid program. To register or volunteer, call 856-7823.


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