35 Heartwarming Rescues
PETA has spent 35 years saving animals, including helping chained dogs and rescuing more than 400 chinchillas from a fur farm. By changing minds and laws, we’ve become the world’s largest animal rights organization. At PETA, we know that every animal matters, whether a mouse or an elephant.
Here are 35 touching rescue stories, in no particular order:
Buddy and Cooper
A PETA undercover investigation of Professional Laboratory and Research Services (PLRS) exposed the cruelty that hundreds of animals were facing. Dogs spent years in cages, living through absolute torture—they were sprayed with high-pressure hoses, force-fed experimental compounds, and even purposely infested with worms. After PETA released the evidence from the investigation, PLRS shut its doors and surrendered Buddy, Cooper, and nearly 250 other animals.
Harry and Houdini
These two ducklings were given as a gift for Valentine’s Day. Like many people who receive animals as gifts, the recipient had no idea how to care for these ducklings. Harry and Houdini spent the first couple of weeks of their life in a plastic crate in a living room. They never even left the crate until the woman called PETA and asked us to take them. After recovering at the Virginia Beach SPCA,Harry and Houdini now live on a vegetarian farm in the country with a PETA member. You can see them swimming for the first time in the cutest video ever:
Today, Ben is living out his days at the Performing Animal Welfare Society, a beautiful accredited wildlife sanctuary in Northern California. Before a long and hard-fought battle by PETA, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and concerned citizens, Ben had spent six long years locked away in a 12-foot-by-22-foot cage with a concrete floor and a chain-link fence. He only had an old bowling ball and some moldy stumps of wood for enrichment. Including Ben’s rescue, PETA saved more than 40 bears from concrete pits and dismal pens between 2012 and 2015.
Bubbles, Brandi, and Marshall
About 30 special-needs cats and nearly 50 dogs were evacuated from severely crowded Gulf-area shelters in the wake of the BP oil spill, thanks to a generous donation from Pamela Anderson. Brandi, who had recently given birth to a litter of kittens, was nearly bald from stress and flea allergies. Marshall was missing most of his hind leg and half of his tail. Bubbles was neurotic and jumped at every noise. Today, Brandi’s fur is grown back, and she thrives in a stress-free environment. Now, Bubbles is showered with catnip toys and loves showing off her acrobatic jumps to catch her favorite toys. X-rays solved the mystery of Marshall’s missing leg and tail—he still has buckshot lodged in his spine, telltale evidence of the cruel people he encountered during his harrowing life on the streets. The three felines are now beloved residents of PETA’s Norfolk, Virginia, headquarters, the Sam Simon Center.
Lemurs Bella and Edward were two of more than 26,000 animals rescued from U.S. Global Exotics (USGE), which was one of the nation’s largest exotic-animal dealers, buying and selling wild-caught and captive-bred animals all over the world, including to companies that supplied Petco and PetSmart. PETA’s investigator spent seven months documenting almost unimaginable horrors at USGE, but thankfully, Bella and Edward were transferred to their permanent home at the Detroit Zoo, a progressive zoo that offers rehabilitation and sanctuary to exotic animals rescued from circuses, roadside zoos, and other facilities. Finally, Bella and Edward were able to be lemurs again, instead of “merchandise.”
PETA was responding to a call about an “aggressive” dog, but instead we found Coco, a sweet girl who was severely emaciated, neglected, and penned outside 24/7. After her owners called us to surrender her, we rushed her to a veterinarian. She was anemic, riddled with parasites, and about half her ideal weight. PETA and the Virginia Beach SPCA helped her find a “forever” family, and Coco lives happily ever after.
Lucy, Peggy, and More Than 200 Other Rabbits
After a PETA investigation at a Maryland hoarder masquerading as a “rescue,” Lucy, Peggy, and more than 200 other rabbits were rescued from cramped, filthy conditions and the owner of the facility was convicted.
Ten lobsters were suffering in an arcade-style “crane game” machine at a restaurant in Virginia Beach, Virginia. They had reportedly not been fed for three weeks. A concerned employee contacted PETA, and with the help of some very compassionate wait staff, we persuaded the managers to give us the lobsters. We cut off the rubber bands around their claws, and with expert guidance, the lobsters were released back into their ocean home.
When the late Sam Simon, the cofounder of The Simpsons, heard about Valediction’s suffering, he knew he had to help. “[I]t was immediately clear the horse was in deep trouble,” Sam said. “He had been run on bad legs to start with and had clearly been injured during the race and had stood there shaking, unable to put weight on his feet.” Sam purchased Valediction, and PETA arranged for him to be sent to a beautiful farm in Virginia owned by other PETA supporters. A veterinarian who examined Valediction noted that although he was only 5 years old, his arthritis was so severe that he could never be ridden again, even by children. Valediction is living happily retired and never will be forced to race again.
Brad, Angie and 400 other chinchillas
With funding from Sam Simon, PETA was able to close down one of the largest chinchilla-breeding and fur farms in California. In addition to rescuing Brad and Angie and more than 400 other chinchillas, PETA removed an electrocution device, skinning equipment, and hundreds of tiny cages, ensuring that this factory farm will never again breed, sell, or slaughter chinchillas.
During the cold winter months, when wind, rain, hail, and snow dominate the weather forecast in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, PETA staffers and volunteers spend every weekend delivering straw bedding and doghouses to dogs in need. On one of these deliveries, PETA volunteers found Blue locked inside a crate outside, along with the dead body of another dog named Dynasty, who had a shattered pelvis and had been starved to death. Blue was malnourished, and his white paws were stained yellow from having to stand in his own urine. He was adopted into a loving home, and his former owner was sentenced to one year in prison for cruelty to animals and was prohibited from owning animals for three years.
These 83 Rabbits
Alaska was one of seven skinny, unhealthy, filthy polar bears who were forced to perform with the tropical Suarez Bros. Circus. PETA submitted multiple complaints to authorities about the bears, who were living in feces-caked cages with no relief from sweltering 113-degree temperatures. All the bears—except ailing 18-year-old Royal, who died on the way to a new home—were ultimately confiscated and placed in zoos in more suitable climates. Soon, their years in a tropical hell faded to a distant nightmare.
Ursula, O.B., and 15 Other Bears
Waheed and Tracy
Now, Waheed and Tracy spend their time being groomed by Animal Rahat staff, sunbathing, and lounging at Animal Rahat’s Home for Retired Bullocks with other rescued animals.
When PETA India learned about Sunder’s suffering, the elephant had an injured eye and ear and scars all over his body from beatings and constant chaining at a temple in Kolhapur, India. After a long legal battle that went all the way to the Indian Supreme Court, Sunder was sent to the spacious Bannerghatta Biological Park, where he could roam freely and socialize with other elephants for the first time in years.
Jack and his friend Wally were used in college food-deprivation experiments. When the course ended, the rats were doomed to be killed. A kind teaching assistant contacted PETA for help in finding homes for them, and a PETA staffer picked them up. He fell in love with the pair during the drive and decided to adopt them.
PETA fieldwork volunteers found Cora with her chain wrapped around her neck so tightly that it had become embedded in her skin, causing an oozing, bloody wound. Her owner agreed that the dog needed more care than he could provide, so he allowed PETA to take her to a veterinarian for emergency treatment. After her wounds healed, Cora was placed in a permanent, loving home, where she would never be chained again.
Rani and Shehenshah
These two lions, as well as eight other lions and 18 tigers, had been forced to travel in cages barely larger than their own bodies with the Empire Circus in India. As a result of a lawsuit filed by PETA India, they were all taken to a sanctuary.
Iris was confined alone for years to a dark, windowless cell that measured only around 8 feet by 16 feet, about the size of a walk-in closet, at Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo, a seedy roadside zoo in Georgia. PETA was able to arrange for her to be sent to the tropical Save the Chimps sanctuary in Florida, where she is blossoming. Watch her rescue video—the hugs and kisses that she gives her new chimpanzee friend Abdul at 1:20 will make your day:
Construction workers found Emmie on a job site.They brought the thin and sickly kitten to PETA, where she was adopted by a staff member. Just look at that face!
A compassionate student rescued these pigs from slaughter after they had spent months in gestation and farrowing crates as part of a college “swine production” class. The student contacted The Cow Sanctuary, who in turn called PETA. We worked with late Hollywood producer and super-friend to animals Sam Simon to get the pigs off the truck to slaughter and into the good life on The Cow Sanctuary’s 77-acre property.
Teller was found by a PETA director on a busy New York street, unable to fly. After the staffer rushed the pigeon to a wildlife rehabilitator for care, he was placed in a home with a huge outdoor aviary and loft custom-built by PETA supporters.
Holly was only days old when she was found in the backseat of a car, after apparently being stolen from a dairy farm. PETA worked with the local animal shelter to make sure this calf didn’t experience the fate of so many other Holstein calves, instead arranging for her to be taken to a sanctuary.
PETA volunteers found Bugsy hopping around in someone’s yard. He was thin, covered with ticks, and suffering from a potentially life-threatening illness. PETA provided him with emergency veterinary care and found him a new home.
Nola was one of the 32 dogs evacuated by PETA from New Orleans to our Virginia headquarters after Hurricane Katrina. When rescuers found her, the young Pomeranian was all by herself, trembling in the middle of a flooded New Orleans highway. A temporary plastic collar with the name of the highway scrawled with a permanent marker hung around her thin neck. Nola’s family was never found, so she was adopted by the PETA staffer who was fostering her. Nola was quiet at first, but after a month of TLC and overcoming a nasty case of kennel cough, the real Nola emerged—the one who can outswim any big dog and who enthusiastically chases the beam of a flashlight across the yard.
Nigel was housed in a cramped, filthy plastic crate at a decrepit Georgia roadside zoo for several weeks until he was thrown into a cage with a python to be eaten. Luckily for him, the snake wasn’t hungry that day. A PETA investigator rescued Nigel and took him to a veterinarian. Rabbits are fastidiously clean, but Nigel had been made to live amid his own waste and his fur was stained with urine. But today, in his new home, Nigel is clean and healthy and enjoys snacking on greens.
This friendly mutt was taken to the North Utah Valley Animal Shelter (NUVAS) by an elderly guardian who could no longer care for her. After regularly checking on Sheena’s status for three weeks, her former guardian was horrified to find her gone one day. NUVAS had sold her to the University of Utah for use in an invasive experiment. PETA got a call from Sheena’s former guardian and worked to get Sheena safe and into a permanent, loving home.
Little Winner (aka ‘Coming Home’)
When PETA’s investigator first spotted Coming Home, a horse used for racing, she was huddled in the corner of a pen at a horse auction in Ohio. She had been sold to a slaughterhouse “kill buyer” for $200 and was just hours away from being sent to slaughter when the undercover investigator stepped in and rescued her. Today, she lives on a spacious ranch in New Mexico, where she runs with other horses, her head once again held high. See her in her new home at 2:23.
Peter and Jerry
PETA fieldworkers spotted Butchy Boy alone in a small, muddy pen with only a filthy tub of water to bathe in. His elderly owner had been trying to care for him, but he was more than she could manage. She jumped at a chance to give him a better life and let PETA find him a wonderful home at a vegan farm with lots of space, clean water, and even a girlfriend! Watch him splash around in his new home:
After a few years in the circus, J.R. had grown too big and strong to be handled safely. Like other performing chimpanzees, he had “aged out” and needed to be placed elsewhere for the rest of his life. So J.R. was sent to a seedy North Carolina roadside zoo where he spent a decade all alone in a small cage, and then he was transferred to another roadside zoo. Thanks to a generous PETA Investigations & Rescue Fund supporter who paid all the costs associated with his transfer to the spacious, tropical Save the Chimps sanctuary in Florida, after 20 years in hell, J.R. finally arrived in paradise.