News Releases, College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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News from the
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Illinois
3225 Vet. Med. Basic Sciences Bldg.
2001 S. Lincoln Ave.
Urbana, IL 61802
January 23, 2013

Release on
Contact: Chris Beuoy

U of I Veterinarian Donates Oxygen Masks for Pets to Fire Department that Rescued Cat

URBANA - Dutchess the cat has more than 4,000 Facebook friends cheering her recovery from life-threatening burns sustained in a September 19 house fire.

Today, after a four-month stay at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Dutchess is going home. And to mark Dutchess's recovery, Dr. Kandi Norrell is donating a set of oxygen masks to the Gibson City fire department, the unit that rescued Dutchess, to help pets that may be caught in house fires in the future.

Dr. Norrell is a primary care veterinarian at the University of Illinois clinic. Though she was not involved in Dutchess's treatment, she decided to make the donation through a partnership with the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Associations foundation and Invisible Fence Brand.

"The Project Breathe program allows local veterinarians to show their community that they care about the health and safety of their patients even when it comes to safety in the home," says Dr. Norrell. "These kits will aid firefighters in administering life-saving care for pets that suffer smoke inhalation."

Dr. Norrell encourages other veterinarians to contact the state veterinary association to find out how they can participate in Project Breathe for their own community.

More about Dutchess

Dutchess was just six months old when, on September 19, a house fire claimed all her familys possessions, their Saybrook, Ill., home, and the life of the family dog.

Dutchess was rescued by firefighter Toni Rose Day, but the cat had second- and third-degree burns. An initial grant from the college helped cover the cost of immediate care for Dutchess, but it was clear that she would need much more time and money to complete her recovery.

That's when Toni created a Facebook page, "The Dutchess Burn Fund." Within weeks more than 3,000 followers around the world were cheering for Dutchess. Donations from Sweden, Canada, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Dubai as well as dozens of states were sent to assist with the costs of Dutchess's care.