Animal Rescue Stories

Read heartfelt stories of rescue, and share your rescued animal stories with others.

Sashas Journey

Sashas Journey

I was one who rescued dogs from local shelters helping one shelter weekly in finding homes for dogs. One dog out five more in. A never ending battle in city shelters. I received a phone call from that animal shelter that yet another dog came in. I drove the 45 minute trip as I did weekly. I remember walking in as it was a normal tour of the weekly dogs that were found and I saw her. Sasha a four year old emaciated pitbull mix. The ACO said she's to far gone. I said can I try? I asked him over and over. Let me take her home if it doesn't work ill bring her back. He agreed. A dog that was once in Pennsylvania, given away at a year old, somehow made her way to Connecticut used as a breeding machine, neglected and abused. That was 8 years ago.
I ended up not finding a home for Sasha because in my heart I felt that she was for me. Sasha was my rock, my world, the light of my darkest days that were yet to come. She lifted me up through my weight loss journey, the depression journey I faced, and the sudden loss of my mother. Sasha went on the journey to local animal shelters to help place other dogs in need of homes. She spent countless hours in my car, miles and miles of walking, laid with me as I cried during the grief of my mom. Sasha never left my side. The last few years were a health battle for her ending her final days in kidney failure. I'll never to this day understand why Sasha was neglected the way she was when I first met her. This is something that I probably will never have the answers to. I know in my heart that I gave Sasha the best life and she gave me her all. No matter what or how she was feeling her life wasn't about pleasing her, it was about pleasing me.

Tiffany
WATERFORD, CT

We really saved each other.

We really saved each other.

About 9 years ago, my husband and I stopped for snacks at a gas station in town on our way home. Little did I know I was about to meet a very special doggy guy.... who would later save me.
HIS Story.
A few months, a few more pounds, and a hundred baths after we got him from the gas station, he had settled in. During our first Vet appointment, our Vet informed us he had Heartworms and it was likely advanced. He stated due to his age (approx 8-10 yrs) he may not make it through the chemo-like procedure. We were very close by then and I knew I would do anything to save him. After a couple of months of injections, whimpering nights, and a bunch of crate rest - he was awesome! His recovery was amazing! He was finally well enough to get fixed and we were eagerly waiting for the X-rays to show us he was heartworm free.
The Vet called us in to go over the X-rays. We got the news we were so happy to hear; "Duke is Heartworm Free!!" .....but there was something else he wanted to talk to us about. He said Duke's heart was enlarged and his lungs had spots. He said there were so many adult sized heart worms they had destroyed a considerable amount of tissue. He stated that Duke also has CHF and will eventually develop a consistent cough that will need to be addressed later. .....He also had more news...
He brought out the XRays this time and informed us of his previous life.
I cried.
In front of strangers.
As I cried he showed us the buckshot BBs lodged throughout Duke's body, the 22 bullets in his abdomen and neck, his long-ago broken ribs, a shattered pelvis (long healed crooked), and a leg broken in 3 places. I remember crying and as I looked down at him he was staring up at me, wagging his tail and eating treats from the vet tech. He wasn't in pain, and I guess none of that mattered to him anymore - he'd found his home and I think he somehow knew nobody would ever hurt him again.
OUR story
After a couple of years with Duke we got into a routine. Outside our ranch we were inseparable. We walked around most every day exploring and feeding the animals, we did lunch drive-thrus together often, and when I left he would meet me halfway down the property and walk me up as I drove in.
One particular day I was in a hurry to get lunch in between 2 video conferences, so didn't take Duke with me. As I raced out of the gates I saw him in my rear view mirror walk down to the middle of the property to wait. I quickly ran to Bill Millers and while speeding home I didn't notice someone following me as I turned in to the private drive. There are two other ranches connected to the private drive so we know everybody coming and going, but I had never seen this van before. It had no license plates and there was so much dirt on it I couldn't see in the windows! I wasn't in panic mode right away. It wasn't until after he passed both property entrances that I realized he didn't belong there. I reached the end the road and was in front of my gate as he pulled in behind me and just sat there. I was boxed in. I could see the man in the driver seat, he had on a cap and big sunglasses and JUST SAT THERE staring at me. I remembered seeing the van in the Bill Millers parking lot and then I started to panic. I rolled up the windows and locked the doors as I waited for him to back out and leave. 5 long minutes and he was still there inching up every so often. I called my husband. While on the phone, he called the neighbors; both were not home and didn't know the van. I saw him crack his door and then from under the gate Duke came out - barking and growling at the van. I have never seen him so angry. The guy closed the door and after a minute or so threw his van in reverse and speed out so fast I couldn't see anything but dust. I ran out, opened the gate, grabbed Duke and sped home safely.
I didn't leave the property alone without him for over a year.

I don't know if Duke saved my life, saved me from being hurt, or saved me from being served from the IRS. All I know is he was there for me like I was there for him.

Duke was an outdoorsy guy, he only wanted to come in if it was cold or rainy. He enjoyed exploring the property, chasing coyotes, hunting rabbits, and car rides. He loved his sibling dogs and tolerated one cat. We had 8 years of full of love and loyalty.
Saying goodbye to Duke was one the hardest things I've ever had to do.

#Bestboy

Jojo Huerta
SAN ANTONIO, TX

Smokey

Smokey

Smokey was a beagle that was bought as a hunting dog. When he wouldn't hunt, the owner was going to put him down. A friend of the owner took the dog to spare his life and dropped him off. My husband couldn’t not take him. We renamed him Jake and have now had the pleasure of his company the last 6 years.

Tammy Barrette
SEBASTIAN, FL

Soul Mates

Soul Mates

I have had animals all of my life. When the stray cat I took in went to Heaven at approximately 15 years old in 2003 and our second cock-a-poo followed the next year at the age of 18, I knew I wanted another furry companion.

I came across an adoption event taking place just outside the gates of our city zoo. I looked online and had printed out profiles and pictures of cats that I was interested in. I asked my mother, who was my best friend, to come along, and we headed out there one sunny but windy Saturday afternoon.

By the time we arrived, however, all the cats that I had profiles on had already been adopted. But I was determined to come home with new friend that day. I saw one of the event workers holding a young-looking adult tuxedo cat. I approached the cat, but she seemed quite timid and did not want to be held by me. At that time I also noticed that the strong winds were making the edges of the tent we were under flap loudly. The sweet cat was shaking and appeared frightened by it. I walked away for a moment but then came back to her. I am a person who has experienced much anxiety and fear my entire life which has caused great suffering. I said to my mother as I looked at the cat, "I think I know how she feels". That was it, and she came home with me that day.

In the beginning "Kali", as I had named her, would hide under the beds at home and had to be enticed with food to come out. She eventually warmed up though, and it was clear that she loved me as much as I loved her. Although she never did like to be held she would sleep on my bed with me or lay in the chair next to me. She loved to be petted and always purred. I never once in her life heard Kali hiss! The staff at the vet hospital always said she was so good during her appointments. She was my constant companion, with me through all the trials and hardships in my life.

Unfortunately in August of 2018 a mass in her liver was discovered that was presumed to be cancer. I took her to a veterinary oncologist shortly after. Although the fine needle aspiration biopsy was inconclusive, an x-ray of Kali's lungs showed that the cancer had already metastisized to them. The oncologist informed me that there really was no treatment available and that Kali might survive for approximately 6 more months. She was put on steroid medication to keep the inflammation down, and to keep her as comfortable as possible.

Amazingly, she did quite well on just this palliative treatment. I cared for her by giving her medication to her daily, feeding her often as her appetite was ravenous, and dealing with any issues that eventually came up be it occasional vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. After all, she was my baby!

When all was said and done she had lived for two years and four months AFTER her cancer diagnosis. I had her euthanized this past December at nearly 16 years old. I loved Kali with all my heart, and I miss her immensely! She is in Heaven with my mother now, both keeping each other company, and both of them in God's loving arms.

I still remember what the adoption worker said to me the day I took Kali home. "Thank you for taking a chance on her", she said. That's all any of us want really, people or animals, to be given a chance...and to be loved.

Karen Handlon
MOUNT CLEMENS, MI

Coming Home

Coming Home

When I saw a newspaper ad offering a female Saint Bernard to a good home, I made an appointment. The dog's name was Rose. Her owner had abandoned her, moved away and called his girlfriend telling her to get rid of the dog, he didn't want her anymore. Rose had been given away five times already and was brought back within a week each time because nobody could handle her.
When I met her she rolled over, clearly asking me to pet her. But when I reached for her she barked hysterically and rolled back onto her belly. She wagged her tail but watched me all the time. She gave such mixed signals, I knew she had been abused. Pet me, pet me, but don't touch me! I petted her head and she rolled over again. I moved slowly and touched her gently, talking to her all the time. The girlfriend said she was surprised Rose let me near her. Her owner was a big man and thought it made him more macho to beat on a big dog. I decided Rose would not be coming back to that house.
We put Rose in the car and she curled up as tightly as possible on the back seat. When we stopped for gas, the service station attendant stuck his hand through the window to pet her. Rose freaked. With her frightened hysterical barking he quickly withdrew his hand. In that moment I felt her fear and aloneness. Here she was being given away again. What new form of abuse awaited her from these strangers.
When we got home, I turned Rose loose in the house to look around. Almost immediately she found an escape and headed upstairs. I understood she needed to be alone, to find a safe place that could be hers, that no one would violate. She found a large fluffy rug in the bedroom and claimed it as her own. She hid upstairs for three days, only coming down to eat and go outside.
When she discovered nobody was going to make her come downstairs, she gained the courage to sneak down on her own and explore. The smell of supper brought her out of hiding and she would sit by the table and "speak" for handouts. After supper, she vanished like a ghost.
During the day I went upstairs and worked around her. Sometimes I petted her as I went by her rug but if I stopped and knelt down to pet her, she took this as a threatening gesture and barked at me. I backed off and walked away, sometimes in frustration. I came to understand she had definite boundaries and I had to respect them.
She would not tolerate being touched behind the middle of her back or hips. Except when we were out in the yard playing. If she knew it was play, it was OK. I grabbed her tail and then ran and she chased after me. I dropped to the ground and covered my head and she barked and mouthed my hands but never bit. It was a game, it was safe. She loved to have her chest scratched. She allowed her head and ears to be petted. Sometimes she seemed almost normal.
One day my husband was sitting on the couch watching TV. Rose walked over, climbed up and plopped herself down on his lap. Naturally, he put an arm around her, and all hell broke loose. Rose erupted into hysterical barking inches from his face. She jumped off the couch and headed upstairs for her rug. My husband swore and threatened to shoot her.
That weekend was spent with the two of them in a stand-off. I tried to explain that, because of the abuse, she was not capable of reacting like a totally normal dog. She was six years old, she had probably been abused for most of her life. It was going to take time. He was still angry and pointedly ignored her. She watched him and knew he was not happy.
Two nights later he was on the couch watching TV when Rose tiptoed over, jumped up and settled in his lap again. He said, "What do I do?" I told him she was trying to make up, to let him know she still wanted to sit with him. Just let her be without trying to hug or pet her. Just let her sit there. It was awkward but in that moment they seemed to come to an understanding.
It was five months before I felt Rose trusted me enough to let me take her to the vet for her shots. Even then, I had to hold her head so she wouldn't bite him while he worked around her rear end.
I wondered what else I could do to make Rose feel at ease. The lady who gave her to me said Rose grew up with a collie and they were great friends. The neighbors had collie pups and I asked if I could have one. Big mistake. When I brought home the little bundle of white and brown fur, Rose took one look and ran upstairs. Her eyes accused and asked me what the heck I was thinking.
As long as the pup was too little to climb stairs, Rose was safe. But the day came when I had to put a barrier across the bottom step, and soon even that didn't work. Nishka invaded Rose's hideout. By then she was used to the fact that he lived there, but she didn't have to like him. She made it clear that the rug belonged to her. At mealtime she “taught” him that he was to wait until she went to her bowl before he went to his.
When summer came we began getting ready to move and I started the long process of packing boxes. Rose observed the preparations and disappeared upstairs. Her muzzle broke out in a rash. She knew what moving meant--she was going to be abandoned or given away again. There was no way to tell her that wasn't going to happen. When we loaded up all the animals on the last day, I could feel her surprise. She was actually going with us. I think the day we arrived at our new place was the day Rose finally knew she had a home.
One precious day a friend came to visit and, to my surprise, Rose took her hand in her mouth and began leading her around the yard. My friend asked what she should do. I told her to just go with her, she was taking her for a walk, showing her where she lived, that this was her place. It was a very Saint Bernard thing to do. I never saw Rose do that with anyone else.
Rose was six years old when I got her and she lived six more years. Eventually she and Nishka became friends, although she always let him know who was top dog. We went for long walks in the woods and she learned to come to the barn without barking and terrorizing the animals.
In her old age and infirmity, Nishka became her guardian, barking to let me know Rose wanted out or in when I was working outside. They even played together sometimes. When she couldn’t walk and had to be put down, I buried her in the woods she loved. For two days afterward, Nishka went out all by himself to visit her grave. It took another couple weeks for him to stop waiting by his bowl before eating.
Rose learned to trust me as much as she was capable of trusting anyone. Still, it broke my heart every time I went to the wood box to get a stick for the fire, and she hastily disappeared into another room. I learned to turn my back and hide the wood while carrying it to the stove.
One thing I missed the most was being able to hug her. When the vet left that day and Rose lay wrapped in a blanket by the woodshed awaiting burial, I uncovered her and gave her the embrace I could never give her in life.

Just a dog lover
CATALDO, ID

Peaches

Peaches

When we're ready to adopt an animal, we ask the universe to send us someone who needs help and that someone else may not want. Peaches came to us after one of those requests 11-1/2 years ago. She was ~5 years old, completely deaf, epileptic, and not house-trained. But what a terrific dog she was! Thanks to our trainer, we all learned hand signals, and we learned how to house train her. She got along with our cats and our other dog, and she let us hold and cuddle her.

And she was an intrepid beach dog. Every day, no matter what the weather, she would trot down the beach behind us with her fluffy tail up and wagging, keeping us in her sights – full sun, rain, strong winds, blowing sand, whatever - she just trotted along. She wasn’t very interactive with other dogs or humans, but she totally charmed everyone with her quiet, hopeful, “Are you going to give me a treat now?” look, friends and strangers alike. Her treat look often included tilting her head and lifting one ear straight up and giving a hint of a Mona Lisa smile. She was an excellent negotiator (some would say extortionist). Over time, she established a whole list of definitive dog cookie rules for the beach, and we (& everyone else) always complied. The “get out of the car & reach the path” rule. The “you were carrying me & now you put me back down” rule. The “turn-around at the fence” rule. The “crossing the bridge” rule. The “wow, it’s so good to see you” rule (no matter how many times she’d already seen you that morning). The best one (for me) was, “I will sit quietly here and not wander off while you talk with your friends forever or take ten pictures or pick up endless trash - but when you’re done, you owe me a cookie for sure” rule. She never, ever wandered off – which was a good thing, since she was deaf, and you couldn't call her back to you. Sometimes she would get distracted, but her Australian shepherd siblings learned how to get her attention, and then you could catch her eye & signal to her, and she would come running (which of course required another cookie).

She was smart and funny and sweet and content - whether she was in your arms on the couch or the beach or in her doggie front-pack or in the back seat of the car or in the kitchen watching you cook. We had to say goodbye to her a month ago, and we can’t begin to say how much we miss her. But we hope she’s trotting along on a beach right now somewhere with her brother Romeo, another superb beach dog who left us 4 years ago.

Judy & Glenna
SAN FRANCISCO, CA

From Panther to Smokey

From Panther to Smokey

January 5: Cold. Dreary. Panther climbs to the top of the stairs and collapses. I carry my black beauty down the stairs, cradling her in my arms. Crying because I knew this is the end. Not just yet, but I know. So does she.

We were together for 17 years. When she was five, she developed diabetes. We handled that with twice daily injections and a treat after each shot. When she was twelve, she developed hypothyroidism. We handled that with a dermal medication in alternating ear lobes daily. And now, when she is 17, she says, "The fight is over." And it is. I call the vet.

I cry daily. Wet streaks stain my cheeks. Insides ache.

January 12: My husband and I spy a gray stray near the patio. I leave Panther's left-over kibble day and night, hoping to catch another glimpse of this elusive gray. Several days later near dinnertime, we see him slip under our patio furniture covered with a tarp. His hiding place. I put kibble in a bowl near the edge of the tarp. We watch him through the patio door. He sneaks out to eat. I click the latch on the door; he's gone. Back under the safety of the tarp.

For a week I put kibble out first thing in the morning and last thing at night. My husband fills the bowl during the day. The food is always gone.

January 19: Snow and sub-zero is forecast. I stand on the step with the kibble and call, “Kitty. Kitty." I hear a sweet “meow,” and then he appears. He stays at my feet and eats the kibble. Painstakingly slowly I reach down and gently touch the top of his head. Expecting him to bolt, I am surprised when he head-bops my hand. I open the sliding door slowly and start to walk in. I hesitate, and the cat walks in behind me.

Not your ordinary stray, his ears are without rips, his face sweetly unmarred, his eyes wide and clear, and he looks as if he belongs inside, not hiding under furniture on a cold stone patio in January.

I did my duty and called animal control, area vets, the local police, asking if anyone had reported a missing cat. No one had. One policeman, asking if I’d fed the cat, said with a laugh, “He’s yours now!”

And so he is. Our Smokey. Some say Panther led him to us, knowing the void she was leaving behind. Others say it was just meant to be. I'll never know how anyone can simply dump a cat and leave.

We take him to the local vet. He has toxoplasmosis. We treat him three times a day for a month. A recheck and he’s clear. He also gets chipped and neutered, best for his future.

Now he greets me when I come home from work. Later, he sleeps in my lap, stretches when I stroke him, rolls over, and lays, a foreleg overlapping my arm; totally relaxed and content to be home. Home. Panther's gift to heal an aching heart.

Caryl Theilgaard
ELBURN, IL

Benson

Benson

I have been fostering for our local animal rescue for many years. My dog Benson started out as a typical foster, and we were just waiting for him to get adopted. He was a two year old GSP that was found in Benson, a small rural community a few miles from where I lived. Our rescue director was driving in the area and saw Benson running down the side of the road. He had no collar or tags. She stopped her car, opened the door, and Benson jumped right in. He was probably a hunting dog that got separated from his hunting party, because he perked up whenever he heard a diesel pickup, and reacted with excitement whenever he heard gunfire. We searched online lost pet sites, posted flyers, and let the vets in the area know about him, but no one came forward to claim him.

Owners loss--my gain!

I fostered him for about 2 weeks, and just knew he was going to be a foster failure and stay with me as my best buddy. That was 12 years ago, so he is over 14 years old now. He is still just as spry as ever, but his eyes are getting cloudy and he has a bit of trouble getting up on my bed.
I have gone on to foster many more dogs (just got number 187, Remmy, a crazy 1 year old Labradoodle) and I couldn't have done it without Benson. He takes each new, timid, scared foster that comes into our home and shows them how to be a happy dog. He will show them the dog door, show them where to go potty outside, and gently let them know the rules.

It will be a sad day when he moves on to his next great adventure.

Linda Gillespie
LOGAN, UT

Grace Ellen

Grace Ellen

Gracie entered my life in 2001 when I decided to adopt another cat to be a companion for Abigail Lynn, my 10 year old cat. When I met 4 month old "Boots" at the shelter, I could hear her loudly voicing her dislike at being in a cage. When I opened the door she jumped in to my arms and wrapped her arms around my neck. Adoption applications usually took 3 to 5 days to process and this was a Saturday so I thought I wouldn't get an answer for a few days. The shelter called me back the next day to say I was approved and asked if I could come get her right away. I was overjoyed and went to get her. As soon as I walked in the door I could again hear her yelling at the top of her lungs. I brought her home and opened the carrier door. She streaked out and immediately jumped to the back of a wooden rocking chair. She balanced there precariously as it rocked back and forth from the impact. I said "Way to go grace!" and from then on she became Grace, adding her middle name, Ellen, a few months later. Gracie was quite an adventurer. Once when I came home from work I heard her yelling, but couldn't find her. We played Marco Polo until I finally found her in the basement. She had climbed up to the rafters and fell through the fake ceiling into the bathroom. I kept that door closed so she was trapped. I opened the door and she walked out, grudgingly told me thank you, and went upstairs. When Abigail passed away at only 12 years old Gracie comforted me, and when I added a puppy to our family, she accepted Margaret Mabel. When I married David I think she thought we adopted him and his cat, Calvin also. Calvin loved to gently pick on Gracie, tapping her backside as she walked by. She would whirl around and beat his nose mercilessly while he just hunkered down, pinned his ears, and took it. Calvin never fought back or was mean to her, it was plain to see he had a crush on her. Gracie put up with the many foster kittens we care for every year for the animal shelter. She taught them to leave hissing, growling cats alone. When old age finally caught up to Grace, she took up residence on our dining room table to be near me as I worked at my desk. We let her stay there in her soft bed with heating pad, food and water. Gracie was always a small girl, 7 lbs at most, but when her weight got down to 4.5 lbs, her Vet and I agreed she was too frail to enjoy life any longer. Grace Ellen left us gracefully and peacefully 4 months shy of her 21st birthday. An era ended that day, and we will miss her until we meet again at the rainbow bridge.

Susan Eisenbacher
FAIRMONT, MN

Freya the Fighter

Freya the Fighter

I work at a municipal animal shelter in a rural town. We see lots of kittens come through. Many are riddled with parasites, infections, and illnesses. This was not uncommon at all.
On August 13th, 2020, after I had already left work for the day, I received a call from my manager asking me to return to work to help with a kitten intake. I never say no to helping kittens.
I rushed back to work and pulled a tiny 4-week old kitten from the dingy carrier it arrived in. She was crying and clearly something was wrong. Her eyes were matted shut with infection and on her backside were fly larvae. There were TONS! The most I had ever seen!
I called my manager and we discussed euthanasia. I put the brakes on that and said she was still lively and so we sent her to the emergency vet. It was a 20 minute drive and I kept telling the kitten "If you make it, I'll keep you forever."
When I dropped her off at the vet, I thought "She's not going to make it."
Well, she made it! She came back to me the next day, exhausted and with pretty bad eyes (which were medicated and have healed their best!)
I named her Freya because she was such a strong little kitten. I mainly call her Freya-beanie now and she comes when she hears that name. She purrs non-stop and always wants to be near me. She has several siblings now who all adore her (even the dogs!).
I can't imagine life without my Freya-beanie. She will never have "normal" cat eyes and she does have some blind spots, but that doesn't seem to slow her down much!

Valerie K Carpenter
LINCOLNTON, NC