Public Education Corner

Community Achievement Award Winner: Antelope Valley Kennel Club

Since its establishment in 1955, the Antelope Valley Kennel Club of Lancaster, California, has served and supported its community through dog show events, clinics, seminars, matches and donations.

The Antelope Valley Kennel Club was recognized with a County Proclamation for their contributions to the LAFD. Left to right: LA County Fire Department’s Capt. Bill Monohan with FEMA Certified Fire Dog Hunter and Battalion Chief Mark Bennett; Betty McGehee, AVKC Director; Supervisor LA County 4th District Mike Antonovich; and Adrian Sanchez, AVKC President.

Prompted by the devastating fires in California in 2003 and 2004, the Antelope Valley Kennel Club decided to donate canine oxygen masks to all the fire stations in the Antelope Valley area. The breathing apparatuses are used for dogs working in emergency areas and also for pets injured in accidents and fires. The masks were delivered to 27 firehouses in July 2005 and were enthusiastically received by the firefighters.

“I’ve been on one structure fire where we had a dog that was not breathing, and we couldn’t resuscitate him,” L.A. County Fire Department spokesman Mike McCormick told the Antelope Valley Press. “A mask like this would have helped. We appreciate the A.V. Kennel Club giving us these tools.”

Another grateful firefighter is Captain Carrie Henger, of the Lake Los Angeles Fire Station. Henger handles the unit’s Labrador Retriever K-9s, search-and-rescue dog “Doc” and arson detector “Sprocket.”

“A mask would have come in handy in April,” Henger said, referring to last year’s wildfires. “Doc got overheated. We cooled him with water and ice. But a mask would’ve helped.”

The donation brought a wave of positive attention to the AVKC. The Los Angeles County board of supervisors publicly honored club members for their generosity, and the story was widely reported in newspapers and on local TV news shows.

AVKC corresponding secretary Linda Sanchez said, “Somehow it was spread on the web, and other organizations liked the concept and decided to look into providing the same equipment to firefighters in their communities.”