Credited with saving the lives of their owners from an early Tuesday morning house fire in the Yolo County community of Zamora, Gizzy, a 4-year-old Shih Tzu, and Honey, a 3-year-old Great Pyranees, were released this afternoon from UC Davis' veterinary medical teaching hospital, where they were treated for smoke inhalation.
Cheryl Washington, 63, said she must have already been experiencing effects of smoke about 5 a.m. Tuesday when her dogs began barking. When they had trouble rousing her, they didn't give up.
"Gizzy climbed up on a chair and then on top of the dresser," Washington said. "The two of them wouldn't let me alone."
Washington then smelled something burning and headed for the next room to wake her 74-year-old uncle, who is disabled. She got him into his wheelchair and had just gotten him down the hallway, when fire burst from the furnace room door, she said. Only then did the smoke alarms begin sounding.
Although Washington and her uncle were able to get out of the house without injury, the dogs were trapped in a back bedroom. Firefighters worked to keep the flames from spreading to the bedroom, and the dogs were rescued after about 45 minutes.
Gizzy was unconscious and Honey was conscious but mentally dull when they were found, said Dr. Karl Jandrey, a veterinarian at the UC Davis veterinary hospital where the dogs were referred by a local veterinarian.
Both were suffering from smoke inhalation and in need of oxygen therapy. The dogs were placed in oxygen cages, with controlled temperature and humidity. By today, Jandrey said, the dogs' lung function was much improved. Gizzy had a touch of pneumonia and was on antibiotics, but Jandrey said he expects both to make a full recovery.
They were released to Washington late this afternoon.
"We're doing OK. I'm just so glad I got to bring my dogs home tonight," Washington said when reached by phone at the motel where she, her uncle and the dogs are staying.
She said the house, which her family had owned since the 1970s, is a total loss, but it can be rebuilt. Her dogs are irreplaceable. Washington said Honey was given to her by a sheep rancher and she rescued Gizzy from Oroville.
Penny Farnham, assistant director of client services for the UC Davis veterinary hospital, said the cost of the dogs' treatment was about $2,500.
People wishing to contribute to a fund to help pay for the dogs' care can go to the website at https://secure.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/public/E_Gifts/giving.cfm. To complete a donation form and direct the gift to Gizzy and Honey, select "VMTH Area of Greatest Need -- Any Species." Note in the comments section that the gift is for the "hero dogs." Credit card gifts may be made by phone by calling (530) 752-7024 between 8 a.m. and noon and 1 and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
If donations exceed the cost of care for the two dogs, excess funds will be designated for the area of greatest need to help other animals requiring emergency care.
Cheryl Washington and her dogs Honey (left) and Gizzy (right) prepare to leave the vetinary hospital, where the dogs were treated for smoke inhalataion. Photo courtesy of Celeste Borelli, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.