A 4-month-old great Dane/lab mixed puppy was rescued from a Southern California wildfire by firefighters back during the California fires of 2017. The rescued pup was then taken to an animal shelter in Anaheim, with the staff hoping that the owner would eventually come forward to claim the pup. Sadly, that never happened and she was placed up for adoption.
It wasn’t long before the little puppy caught the eye of Debra Jo Chiapuzio. The former medical tattoo artist had used her skills on burn victims and cancer survivors. But she is also a professional who teaches animal first aid and CPR.
After adopting the pup, Chiapuzio decided to name her new dog Emma Zen. According to MSN, she chose the name because the puppy apparently had a very calm and chilled out personality.
But even prior to adopting Emma Zen, Chiapuzio was very familiar with the flight of pets in the California wildfires. Knowing that something needed to be done, Chiapuzio decided to find a solution. She began by donating 17 specially fitted pet oxygen masks to the Anaheim fire department. She also trained the firefighter on how to properly use them.
However, she still felt that there was more that she could do. And that is when she decided to start her own nonprofit, the Emma Zen Foundation. The nonprofit had an aim to administer as many pet oxygen masks to first responders as possible and provide them with training on how to use them.
Together, both Chiapuzio and Emma Zen began traveling up and down the West Coast stopping in at different fire stations and offering them masks and training.
Besides their efforts, there have also been plenty of donations that have helped the nonprofit do some great work. Some of these donors have been such places like Girl Scout troops, the Annenberg Foundation, and various others. As a result, the nonprofit has managed to distribute 7,500 pet oxygen masks across the country.
And since the number of wildfires, along with their severity, have been on the rise in the past few years, Chiapuzio made the decision to do this work full time. And her precious pup, who is now 13-years-old, is still traveling around with her owner, helping her.
The two share an incredibly strong bond. In fact, Chiapuzio said her whole motivation for this was inspired by her beloved pooch. She felt that if she were to pass away, she wanted to leave behind a legacy that she and her dog could be proud of.
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.
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