BILLINGS — Montana ranks number one in the US, in dog ownership, according to World Population Review. And Montana K-9 safety was at the public library in downtown Billings on Saturday to demonstrate what you can do when man’s best friend needs your help.
CPR and first aid training are skills that many are familiar with when it comes to helping a person, but Racheal Vargas and Garry Forman of Montana K-9 safety set out on a mission in 2019 to make sure that furry family members weren't left behind.
"We teach everything from the importance of obedience training in dealing with emergencies, preparing a first aid kit, CPR, to basic wound care," said Vargas.
Both Vargas and Forman are dog lovers with medical and K-9 handling backgrounds respectively and the creation of the group was a "pretty easy decision" when they realized they had the same goal, according to the two.
"We’re in the great state of Montana and we all live here for specific reasons. Over 60% of Montana residents have two or more dogs and we feel by facilitating and developing training programs for dog owners we can help prevent further damage and save the lives of dogs," Forman said.
For Forman, his personal experiences with service dogs are the driving force for his inspiration.
"We all know that service dogs are life changing for disabled people and veterans. We know that service dogs don’t just save change lives, but they also save lives. And if the dogs are saving veterans lives, who’s here to help save the dog’s life that’s helping a veteran or a person?" added Forman.
The program teaches everything from CPR, to how to muzzle or pick your dog up in a stressful situation. As well as what to do if your dog breaks a bone, has an open wound, ingests poison or is bitten by a rattlesnake. And all the participants in the course get hands on experience for dealing with different scenarios.
Vargas says if dog owners should know one thing about performing CPR on a dog, it’s the "15 to one ratio, 15 chest compressions to every one breath" and repeat the process until the dog starts to breathe on its own again.
After attending their course, their goal is simply to have people feel more confident that they can help their pets if a scenario calls for it.
"We’re just hoping that people will learn skills, basic skills that might help them save their dogs life in the event of an emergency," added Vargas.
"If you are confident in the skills of saving a life, you’re more likely to save a life," Forman said.