Animal Rescue Stories

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

Life Saving Maltese lives Happily Ever After

Life Saving Maltese lives Happily Ever After

When my mom's Alzheimer's got bad enough that she had to move to a memory unit, Dad was very sad without her at home. My brother helped him find a Maltese puppy, which Dad named Skoshie after a dog of the same name that had been on his Navy ship many years before. Skoshie became Dad's constant companion, and we are convinced he saved Dad's life more than once when Dad was feeling despondent. Skoshie was a much-loved and much-spoiled little dog!

Fast forward five years to the last month of Dad's life, which he unfortunately had to spend in a nursing home because of congestive heart failure. I took Skoshie to visit him several times, and he was quite a hit with the staff there! One day as I was about to leave, I heard the nurses at the front desk exclaiming over how cute Skoshie was. I turned back to let them pet him, and I mentioned that we were all sad that we would have to find a new home for him soon. (I have several house cats who wouldn't tolerate a dog, and my brothers' situations did not allow them to take Skoshie, either.)

A minute later, as I turned to leave the nursing home, I heard a call from across the dining room: "I'll take him!!" I looked up, and one of the staff members came racing across the room. I said, "Are you sure? He's not even fully potty trained." But Augusta was absolutely sure. She gave me her name and address and told me to come over and take a look at her house if I wanted. Meanwhile the staff at the desk were all smiles over Gussie's offer. I told her I'd give her overnight to think about it, and if she was still sure, Skoshie could move in with her the next day.

Well, the next day, Augusta was not only still sure, her daughter (in another city) had already ordered all the items needed to make a wonderful home for Skoshie! I left him and his favorite blanket and toys with her amidst a lot of smiles and a few tears. Augusta had him fully potty trained within a couple of weeks and took him to visit Dad several more times before Dad passed away.

That was three years ago, and Augusta has spoiled Skoshie even more than Dad did. He travels with her and sleeps with her every night. Every January, she throws a birthday party for Skoshie and his little doggie friends, and now Skoshie even has a sister, Bella. He's the happiest and luckiest little dog in the world!

I'm convinced that there was divine intervention the day Augusta overheard me saying that Dad's little hero needed a new home.

Linda K Barnum
COLFAX, IA

Pilgrim.  The Magic of New Beginnings

Pilgrim. The Magic of New Beginnings

Every horse or other equine has value and deserves to be treated humanely, regardless of their age or situation. Purchasing a horse is a lifetime commitment to the horse’s wellbeing and should not be entered into lightly.

It is for this reason that, in the last 15 years, horse rescue organizations have increased in number. One such organization is the Aiken Equine Rescue located outside Aiken, SC. They rescue horses that have been abused, neglected, and starved. They work with racetracks to find homes for off-the-track thoroughbreds. Some horses remain on the property in their “AARP aka Villages” pastures to live out their senior lives with other senior horses, but the main purpose is to find new homes for as many as possible. They are given second chances with new, loving homes through an adoption process. This makes room for another horse, in need of that second chance.

This story is about one of those horses. He arrived at the Aiken Equine Rescue farm in November 2020, close to Thanksgiving, so they named him Pilgrim. He was a severe neglect and starvation case.

In addition to being extremely thin, Pilgrim had a bacterial infection known as rain rot over his entire body. There were open sores similar to human pressure ulcers on prominent bony areas and large scabbed areas. Starvation causes muscle wasting, hypothermia, weakness, decreased wound healing and immunity, and gastrointestinal problems, which often lead to colic. There were dental problems requiring a special diet and hoof deterioration requiring special care.

Mentally, Pilgrim was fearful of humans and difficult to handle. The staff and volunteers worked tirelessly, offering kindness and building his trust. Dental problems made it difficult for him to eat traditional horse treats. Strangely, he developed a taste for bananas. It took months, but eventually his personality began to change and his gentle soul emerged. He found a place with the other senior horses and settled in.

This was not to be the end of the story for Pilgrim. Second chances happen frequently at the Rescue and his was on the way.
Jessie Webster was at cheerleading camp when she began with headaches, jaw pain, insomnia, and difficulty eating. She was diagnosed with sinusitis and treated accordingly. Her symptoms got worse and while trying to negotiate a jump on her horse, she had double vision. This time, she was taken to the Medical University of SC in Charleston and admitted.

Four days later, the doctors told her parents that she was in stage four of a type of lymphoma. She needed immediate treatment via chemotherapy. At a time when most 14 year old girls are excited about wearing makeup, buying new clothes, gossiping with girlfriends, and noticing boys, Jessie Webster was facing a diagnosis of cancer. Not just any cancer, but a type of lymphoma that is fast growing and creating havoc in her entire body. Without timely treatment, it is rapidly fatal. Treatment involves intensive chemotherapy to the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Facing chemotherapy instead of going to school or spending time with her friends, Jessie and her family had to move quickly to counteract what was happening to her body.

Jessie was in the hospital for 8 months, most of which she doesn’t remember due to heavy sedation. The treatment was devastating to her body. While chemotherapy will often slow or stop cancer cells, it also attacks normal cells. It is a two edged sword. There is no GPS to guide it past the normal cells. In her case, the chemotherapy was successful in stopping the cancer’s progress, but it damaged her thoracic spine. She would be in a wheelchair indefinitely.

At home, waiting for her return, was her beloved horse. She was an avid rider since age 4, participating in shows, and riding with her friends. Her horse’s name was also Jesse. He and Jessie had a bond that was unbroken. When she was able to come home, he was not afraid of her wheelchair. Her parents would lift her onto him, so she could ride.

"There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man” (that is, riding a horse improves a person’s mental or physical health). This is often credited to Winston Churchill (1874-1965), but the saying was popular before he was born and continues to be true today.
As is the case with beloved animals, Jesse passed away in July 2021, and Jessie felt his loss deeply. She worked through her grief and was determined not to live her life without a horse. People don’t understand that loving riding and being near horses is in your blood. Time spent in the saddle is never wasted. There is no fear of these majestic animals, only respect. It doesn’t go away just because your life situation changes.

Jessie knew she was happiest around horses, so she began to search the internet for another horse. She found Pilgrim on the Aiken Equine Rescue site. He reminded her so much of her horse Jesse that she began trying to convince her parents to let her have another horse. It was a tough sell, but in the end, they gave in.

When she met Pilgrim at the rescue, he came right to her. Their bond was immediate. Pilgrim’s reaction to Jessie reaching up to him from her wheelchair revealed he was the absolute natural horse for her. There was no fear, only love. The adoption procedure went smoothly and Pilgrim came to his forever home with Jessie in November 2021.

They began their journey of second chances together.
Currently, Pilgrim lives at a stable and in a huge pasture with Marsh Tacky horses for playmates. The owners of the stable are working with him so he will soon be ready for Jessie to hop aboard and ride again. The highlight of her day is spending time with him, feeding him horse treats shaped like banana chips. He likes to lick her hand which is his way of saying he is happy with her.

Jessie’s parents are very supportive of her love of Pilgrim. Her mother, Ann, drives her to the stable to visit with Pilgrim. It is obvious in their interaction that mother and daughter are dedicated to him and his well being. They are currently waiting to move into a new home which in the near future will include a stable for Pilgrim.

Diane Sharp
AIKEN, SC

Our Christmas puppy!

Our Christmas puppy!

This little guy was abandoned in our neighborhood some time around Christmas. We first saw him running down the street and thought it was someone’s pup who had gotten out. A week or so later, we saw him again on the bridge behind our house near the creek and woods.

After several tries at catching him, we went and bought a large live animal trap. He was so starved, cold, and dirty. We were successful and brought him inside to feed him and clean him up. We took him to the vet and got him checked over, and the vet thought he was about 6 month old.

He was very fearful especially of men. He had been neutered and groomed. It was determined that he was probably a Maltipoo. We put up posters, checked with vets for someone who was missing a puppy, but with no results.

He came at a time when our Yorkie was terminally ill and passed soon in January. We felt like he was a Christmas gift sent to ease the passing of our other pup. We love him to pieces!

Peggy Schuler
SCRANTON, KS

Kitten found in middle of road

Kitten found in middle of road

I was coming home through town and saw this little white ball of fluff in the middle of road where there was a stoplight. I would have run it over, so I stopped the car and jumped out to pick it up. People behind me and coming down the hill to the stoplight all stopped and watched me. No one was annoyed, honking, or any such thing. I picked it up, put in car, and pulled over to the side of the busy road.

There was an old motel there, but no one seemed to know anything about this dirty kitten with hair missing from its tummy. So she went home with me, got a bath, some supplement formula for kittens, and continued to grow up with us. I named her "Annie" after my co-worker who had passed away recently.

Took her in for a quick vet check and he thought she was about 4 weeks old. Well it is 14 years later, and she turned out to be a large beautiful Flametip Siamese Male weighing in at 23 lbs. Big blue eyes and beautiful cream-colored hair. He now mentors our new kitten who is 1 year old. Like an old man he watches her every move and when she goes out on porch, he is right there watching.

Susan Corliss
SHELTON, WA

my Lexie

my Lexie

I got a call from the Italian Greyhound rescue, (I had rescued another one before) and they said that there was a dog listed for sale that was in Orlando. The wanted to know if I would go get it. I agreed to do so.

I went the the woman's home to get it and knocked on the door. She went to get the dog out of a closet. She stated she was hiding it and secretly put the ad for it to save it. She stated that her son was going to feed it to a snake! I paid the $300 and took it home. I already had Gracie, an IG I had purchased, and two rescues from the breeder that people had returned. I named her Lexie.

She hid under my bed for a week, and finally Sophie, one of my IGs, came in there to sit under the bed and comfort her. Sophie was brought to my home by someone that had purchased her to get his marriage back together. It did not work. So the breeder called and I said I would take her. In the meantime my dog I had bought Gracie had a broken leg.

So when they brought Sophie to the door, I said yes I want her, but can you keep her about a week until Gracie is better. The lady said ok. Well, I live in the woods and have a long driveway and when they drove off, Sophie at the end of the driveway leaped out of the drivers side window, ran to my door, and scratched on it. She was mine from that moment on.

She was the sweetest and kindest dog ever. It is no surprise the way she comforted Lexie. They became besties and were always together.

This summer Sophie, about 15, finally passed away. So difficult to see her leave us. That was last summer, and Gracie, also very old, passed. I had them from when they were young. So that left Lexie all alone. She does not like to eat, she is sad and misses Sophie so much.

Also before that I had lost Mia who I also rescued through the breeder. I actually had also, before Lexie, rescued Minnie. For several years I had 5 beautiful and wonderful IGs. Now I just have Lexie and she is so sad and needs a friend. Mine were all females, and they all slept with me every night.

My care credit bill at the end was over 10 thousand dollars. They all had great care. Lexie now snuggles with Sophie's old toy she loved. She is still very sad. I am just thankful she was never ever fed to a snake.

I have been looking for a small IG female to help Lexie have a friend. I have been unable to find one unless I have 4 thousand dollars to purchase one. I also would not feel right not taking a rescue. Minnie, the other rescue I had, eventually became blind but was very happy anyway. She came from the Brevard County IG rescue. That is the story of my 5 IG rescues, Lexie and I are both lonely and miss your family.

I have amazing pictures of all of them sitting on their favorite place...a shelf on my bay window in the kitchen where i had dog beds. They were all small and had many toys and I have a fenced dog park in the year they loved.

Anne Rufiange
LONGWOOD, FL

Treacle

Treacle

I was driving in town at night. In my headlights, behind the car in front, I saw what looked like a brown paper bag tumbling over and over, but there was no wind. I quickly realized that it was a young ginger cat struck by previous car. I leapt out of my car, engine still running and lights on, to find him.

He had managed to pull himself along by his front paws - his back ones useless - under part of a bush by the side of the road. I scooped him up carefully, put him in the car, and took him to my local RSPCA centre. They said he had broken his hips, and if any of the nerves had been damaged, meaning he couldn’t walk, they would have to put him down.

I waited anxiously for news. He wasn’t chipped, so I said I would pay whatever it took to help him. Fortunately, there was no nerve damage, and I was able to take him home to recover - to the surprise of my other cats.

I’d created a quiet secluded spot for him with food and water, but when I wasn’t looking, he managed to get himself downstairs and under the stairs. There he holed up for sometime, only emerging for food water or litter tray when no one was around. My other cats were curious but kept a respectful distance.

Then suddenly one day when I was sitting on the sofa, this ginger cat came along walking well and jumped on my knee. What a softy he was. He LOVED being stroked and was my shadow for 10 years. Such a sweet cat, hence the name Treacle. The other cats loved him, too.

I’m glad I was able to give him a happy life.

Lynne
London, United Kingdom

Shotgun Shela

Shotgun Shela

Shela the Highwayhound LOVES to ride

"She" is a Humane Society rescue dog - part Lab and part Smooth Collie - extremely intelligent, and highly sensitive to verbal and body language.

She's been riding with me for more than 9 years now, ever since the day I picked her up from the Humane Society. The first thing she did was jump into the driver's seat, sit down, put her paws on the steering wheel spokes, turn and look at me as if to say -- "Ok, I'm ready, git in and lets go!" She acted real disappointed when I indicated she wasn't going to git to drive the rig.

Nowadays, whenever she perceives the SAR rig being readied for a search loop, she eagerly presents herself to be strapped in to her shotgun seat. Then she grins from ear to ear and displays her "I'm happy" body language as we pull out of quarters.

On October 19 2004, Shela was an invited guest in the Viper Room on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood for the first annual Mammoth Mountain Forum members season starter shindig -- met a lot of folks, made a lot of friends.

More routinely, her presence and character helps to calm accident victims and families. Once her perceptiveness saved the SAR rig from being stolen, I believe, as she took violent exception to an individual who had approached it late at night beside the interstate whilst my back was turned and I was occupied with an incident.

She is friendly towards most folks, so those she isn't friendly towards -- well -- I TRUST her instinct!

Thomas Weller
EL CAJON, CA

A Tree surprise

A Tree surprise

It was a cold winter morning, 30 degrees. I went to get the daily paper at the road about 120 feet from our house and heard a faint cry. I looked in the culverts and ditches to no avail and went back out to get the mail at 4 or so. This time I heard a screaming cry.

Traced the sound to a tree and thought whatever was inside. I looked up and down and about 30 feet up, I saw something moving on the large branch, so I went and got our ladder and climbed as far to the top as I could get. There were these little ears showing. Thought it was a raccoon, so I put on my construction gloves and called quietly. Then it came out: a little kitten.

It came down a bit and then retreated, so I just kept calling him. Finally he came within a paws reach. I grabbed him and put him in my jacket. Inside, he had a gash across his nose and eye, so I treated and took him to the vet for a check and feline injections.

We love him dearly he has been with us for 20 years now. It seems he is on his way to rainbow bridge. I hope not soon. Don't know where the years have gone. Pippy, which we named him, is such a joy with lots of character.

Kathleen Carroll
GROVETOWN, GA

Adopt a Senior Dog - Meet Bitsy

Adopt a Senior Dog - Meet Bitsy

I first met Bitsy while delivering Meals on Wheels. She was rescued from down south, transported to NJ to a shelter, where her mom saw her and adopted her. She had her designated as an emotional support dog because dogs weren't allowed in her complex. Her mom was older and ended up having to go into a nursing home. She had Bitsy for about 4.5 years, and they were going to send Bitsy back to the shelter, but I just couldn't let that happen. A 10 year old Chihuahua, what were her chances at the shelter?

I asked my husband if we could foster her, he said no, but we did it anyway. But when I had a potential adopter a couple of weeks later, he said to let her stay. She was just getting used to us and calming down. She had some idiosyncrasies; she was a house dog and when I put her in the yard the first time, she just looked at me. She didn't know how to tell us when she had to go out. But she is just the easiest, sweetest dog you could ask for.

Bitsy's about 16 now and completely transformed. She hikes, she plays, she's super friendly, she loves to explore the yard. She loves to cuddle and bark at everyone who passes by.

Adopt a senior dog; she has so much life and love to give. I smile whenever I look at her and see her smiling while she sleeps. I'm so grateful I was able to give her this peaceful, happy life.

Diana Sutton
LEONARDO, NJ

I never wanted a gray cat

I never wanted a gray cat

I finally talked my husband into adopting a second cat to keep our 2-year-old orange male cat company. I always wanted a calico kitten, so I searched for one at the first rescue we went to. But I didn’t find one, so I talked my husband into going to Petsmart.

There, I spotted a cute calico in the back behind the cages. They let us go in the back, but the cute calico ran under a cabinet and wouldn’t come out. Discouraged, I started looking in all the cages, and a little gray kitten meowed loudly and really wanted out!

I opened the door and he eagerly came to me. I petted him and then put him down to run around as I looked at other kittens, as I really didn’t want a gray kitten. But this kitten was persistent and kept coming up and rubbing against my husband and me.

And that’s how I ended up with the most lovable gray kitten, even though I never wanted a gray kitten. He choose us!

markagottlieb@cox.net
SURPRISE, AZ