PHOTO: Etta McKenzie rescued a customer’s tiny family members after they suffered smoke inhalation in a fire. Belgium, left, and Donovan, held by owner Alyssa, were all thankful Etta took the guinea pigs under her wing for the night.
What do you do if you have two wheezing, gasping guinea pigs in the back seat of your car?
If you’re Etta McKenzie, you race the furry critters to the nearest emergency vet clinic.
It all started with a phone call at 10:30 p.m.
“The Customer Response Center called to let me know a customer had suffered an apartment fire,” the Kansas City, Mo., agent says. “The mom left and came back to a smoke-filled apartment. Fortunately, the fire was contained to the kitchen.”
The long-time insureds, a mother and daughter, were trying to check into a hotel with the family’s two guinea pigs. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a pet-friendly hotel.
Etta met the pair at the hotel and volunteered to let the guinea pigs spend the night at her house.
After securing Donovan and Belgium in her car, Etta started home. That’s when she heard the duo struggling to breathe.
Etta called one emergency vet clinic after another, striking out five times. One vet recommended a clinic that had an oxygen chamber to treat smoke inhalation. Elated, Etta called that vet hospital to let them know she was on her way with two very ill patients.
It was now past 2 a.m.
At 7:30 a.m., Etta was back at the clinic to pick up the pair. Four breathing treatments later, the tiny livestock were as good as new. The family moved to a pet-friendly hotel, and Etta returned the animals to a very grateful young owner.
“I’m glad I could help make the situation better,” she says. “I’ve raised birds, dogs and iguanas. I couldn’t let them suffer. Pets are family members.”
And Etta is now known as the Guinea Pig Guardian Angel.