When we think of pets that save their owners lives, most of us probably think of dogs dragging drowning children out of the pool or something equally dramatic, but it isn’t just pet dogs that can come through for us in a crisis. What about the pet cat that kills a snake before it can bite a family member, or the pet bird that alerts homeowners to an intruder? What about a pet skunk that saves an entire family from slow suffocation from a fire?
One New Year’s Eve, Mason Lowrey’s son entertained some friends in the downstairs rec room with a cheerful fire, a keg and food to share. Moose, a 17-pound skunk with the run of the house, would probably have been right there in the midst of the party cleaning up any food in reach. When the party was over, Lowrey’s son put the fire out, closed the flue and then went to bed.
At around 3 a.m., Lowrey was awakened by Moose the skunk pulling covers off of the bed. Lowrey gave him a firm but gentle shove to remind him of his manners, and tried to go back to sleep. The skunk persisted in pulling at the covers. The third time Lowrey reached down to shove him away, he bit her hand.
Lowrey was startled fully awake, and found herself in a house filled with smoke. She and her husband raced downstairs to find their son safe and sound asleep behind a closed door (little smoke had yet managed to seep into his room through the door, possibly because the upstairs, where they slept, was filling first). The fire in the rec room was still smoldering, and had not been put out as her son had thought. The closed flue directed the smoke straight into the room.
Moose the skunk was moved somewhere safe while the family worked to clear the house of the smoke that could have choked them to death in their beds. When things were restored to normal, he got a hero’s reward. Moose was presented with a rare treat: one whole Oreo cookie (his favorite). The cookie is not a part of his regular diet, but it was a well-earned reward.
Moose the skunk was adopted from the Bucks County Humane Society in Lahaska, Pennsylvania. He was a beloved member of the family and lived to be somewhere around 8 years old, or maybe older (his actual age wasn’t known). He was the fifth skunk owned by the Lowrey family, and their first male. Mason Lowrey is a longtime animal lover, and runs a Ferret Rescue and Halfway House in Martinsville, Indiana. She has run the no-kill shelter for about 34 years.