Bronx News
Feb 21, 2018

BRONX NEWS: Guinea pigs need home after turning up at hero soldier’s funeral

Two guinea pigs that mysteriously appeared on the steps of a Bronx church during the funeral for a soldier who died saving four people from a deadly fire need a new home.

Animal rescuer Marie Palladino is trying to find a home for the two critters, left behind in a cat carrier on the steps of during the funeral at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church for Emmanuel Mensah.

“There they were, the two little babies in a cat carrier,” said Palladino. “They’re adorable.”

Timothy Cardinal Dolan officiated the packed funeral for Mensah, 28, lauding him for demonstrating “the most noble calling of the human person, to give ourselves in sacrifice and love to others.”

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The immigrant from Ghana was among the 13 people killed by the fast-moving inferno that engulfed the five-story building Dec. 28, the city’s deadliest fire in more than a quarter-century.

The young soldier was home for the holidays when the blaze broke out on the first floor. He raced in and out of the burning building at least three times — carrying his neighbors to safety. He was found dead on the fourth floor, overcome by smoke.

Some funeral goers speculated the mystery pets belonged to Mensah.

The soldier’s father and roommate both said they don’t believe the animals were his. But grieving dad Kwabena Mensah said his son was an avid animal lover.

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“It doesn’t bother me that people want to take care of them in my son’s name,” the grieving dad said. “I know he would have appreciated that.”

Palladino has recruited the Animal Care Centers of NYC and the Sean Casey Animal Shelter in Brooklyn to help search for a new home for the guinea pigs, one jet black, the other brown and white. She named them Thelma and Louise.

“At first they were very scared but now they are used to me,” Palladino, 68, said. “They squeak when they want to eat.”

“Maybe they didn’t know what to do with them,” Palladino said of whoever left the pets there. “Maybe they thought they would be safe with God.”

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Before his funeral, Mensah posthumously received the New York State Medal of Valor and the Soldier’s Medal, which is the Army’s highest award for noncombat bravery. Both awards were buried with him.

Anyone interested in adopting Thelma and Louise can reach out to Animal Care Centers of NYC at or the Sean Casey Animal Rescue at (718) 436-5163.

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Guinea pigs need home after turning up at hero soldier’s funeral

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