Local pet daycare couple saves sick dog while owner is out of country

Melissa and Michael Henderson, owners of Melissa’s Menagerie in Shawnee, helped Winston, this Shih Tzu dog, get a pacemaker while his owners were out of the country. Photo courtesy of Apurva Bhatt

A dog named Winston came down with a serious heart condition right after his owner, Apurva Bhatt, left the country on a short trip. So Bhatt was overwhelmed with gratitude when Melissa and Michael Henderson, a couple who owns a local pet daycare and boarding facility, voluntarily took Winston to Columbia, Missouri and got him in surgery to receive a pacemaker.

“I’ve cried almost every day this week thinking about this heroic act of selflessness,” Bhatt said a few weeks ago in a Facebook post.

Bhatt, who lives in the Shawnee Mission area, works with Melissa’s Menagerie in Shawnee for dog walking and boarding services. So Winston, a Shih Tzu mix, stayed with the Hendersons while she and her husband traveled to India for a wedding.

Melissa and Michael Henderson. Photo submitted

Shortly after they left the country in early December, the Hendersons noticed Winston suddenly seemed ill, so they took him to a veterinarian and found out he was suffering from a fatal heart condition that caused a very low heart rate and low blood pressure. If he didn’t get a pacemaker soon, he would probably die before Bhatt and her husband could return home and get him help.

No pet cardiologists were immediately available in the Kansas City area, so Bhatt contacted one in Columbia who agreed to see Winston right away. Without thinking twice, the Hendersons drove Winston two and a half hours to Columbia for heart surgery.

Bhatt missed part of her friend’s wedding because she was already on the first flight back home. And Melissa Henderson missed her friend’s wedding so they could make the trip to Columbia.

But Melissa said she and Michael don’t do things like this for the praise. They do it because they believe it’s the right thing to do.

“I love animals, and really there was no question when that happened,” she said. “Once we found out that’s what needed to happen, there wasn’t really any thought to it. It was we’re just going. Winnie’s getting a pacemaker and that’s that. I would do it for any animal.”

Winston now has a pacemaker and “has made an incredible recovery,” Bhatt said.

“Winston would have died if it weren’t for them and everything that they did to save him,” Bhatt said. “I’m just really, really grateful for everything they’ve done. Because it really was above and beyond what you would expect somebody just dog sitting to do.”