by Bethany Meissner
“We were definitely saved by Grace. Saved by Gracie,” says Annette Shanahan about their cat. Annette and her husband owe their lives to their eight-year-old Maine Coon mix and aren’t afraid to admit it.
One night this past February, Annette and her husband, Kevin, were sleeping in their home in Reedsburg, Wisconsin while a silent killer filled their bedroom. According to ABC News, Annette woke up and thought she was having a heart attack. She felt confused and told reporters, “I wasn’t in the presence of mind to even tell my husband.”
Although Annette got out of bed, she unfortunately then fell asleep in a nearby chair. Thankfully, one of their three cats, Grace (or Gracie as they often call her) knew something was wrong. “Gracie started pounding at the door. Pounding loud. She was really pounding. Our house is 120 years old so the door rattles,” shared Annette.
The sounds woke up Kevin. He stood up and realized something was wrong. “He realized he was fuzzy and not right,” said Annette. Kevin left the bedroom and went to see if their two children were home. Annette woke up and knew things were bad. “I couldn’t stand up,” she said. “I was thinking in my head I was having a heart attack.” Annette managed to slide out of the chair and down the stairs on her side. She saw that Kevin had gotten her cellphone and was calling their kids.
Their son heard Kevin’s impaired and halting speech and realized something was very wrong. He immediately came home, arriving even before the police. Annette dialed 911 as soon as her husband finished his call and handed her the phone.
In their confusion, they weren’t sure what to do. Annette described the call to reporters, “We didn’t have the presence of mind to think to get out of the house. All I got out was our address [on the phone]. I said, ‘I can’t breathe,’ and kept repeating our address.”
Thankfully emergency responders soon showed up with the local energy company. It was lucky Gracie woke the couple up when she did. The energy company found lethal levels of carbon monoxide in the upstairs level of the house. Annette was told that normal, safe levels are between 0 and 5.5, but that the levels in their bedroom were above 600!
Apparently the vent for their tankless gas hot water heater had gotten iced shut. After both kids took hot showers before heading out for the evening, the result was that it “sucked up the gas and pushed it right into” Kevin and Annette’s bedroom. Although the Shanahans had a carbon monoxide detector, it was 15 years old and needed to be replaced.
The couple spent the night in the hospital and are now recovered. They’re grateful Gracie was watching out. Annette shared, “We usually sleep with our door closed and right before we went to sleep she was outside our door meowing which is very unusual.” Annette continued “She sensed something was wrong.”
Kevin shared with WREG.com that the family loves their three cats “and all three of them do run the house.” Given Gracie’s heroics, we’re certain no one in the family minds!
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