The first time Judith Backof saw pet first aid being done to an animal was on a parakeet, as she was watching a program on Animal Planet.
“It was fascinating. The man that did it was huge, like a wrestler. He just had this little bird on his hands, and he breathed in his little nostrils and it was amazing.”
This experience inspired Judi to join the Red Cross in 2006 as a Pet First Aid Instructor, to help pet owners on how to perform pet first aid and inspire others to take care of their pets.
“I wish everybody would learn how to do it,” she said.
She joined the Red Cross Broward County Chapter in 1999. She was part of a program to teach HIV education in Broward public schools from grades two to twelve.
Judith had previous experience with pet first aid with her own dogs, when she had to perform abdominal thrusts on her pug, which ate something he shouldn’t have.
Pet first aid covers the basics in caring for cats and dogs through a variety of topics – from understanding and checking your pet's vital signs, to caring for the most critical emergency situations – including breathing and cardiac emergencies, wounds, bleeding, and seizures.
Judith noticed that pet owners make common mistakes when it comes to seizures.
“You really need to let them stay on the floor and let the seizure end,” she said. “When they start to come around and wake up from it, then you can pick them up and snuggle with them.”
The most rewarding thing about being a pet first aid instructor for Judi is that there’s always something you can do or learn to help your pet.
“It makes me feel better to know that I can help,” she said.
You can also find Judith teaching pet first aid to the Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida, which have a national pet care badge and take trainings with her on how to do CPR and pet first aid on cat and dog mannequins.
Judith transformed her passion into action, and has helped many pet owners become better prepared and informed along the way.
To register for Red Cross pet first aid trainings, visit redcross.org/catdogfirstaid or download the free app Pet First Aid for expert guidance on how to maintain your pet’s health, what to do in emergencies, and how to include pets in your emergency preparedness plans.
Written by Maria Lago