We all hear so many sad stories of animal abuse: pit bulls being forced to fight and kill one another, pets left outside to suffer through the coldest and hottest of days, dogs and cats left behind to die when their owners move, and millions of unwanted pets being dumped at animal shelters, where they’re often euthanized before they can find new families.
Luckily, there are still many people who care enough about animals to go to extreme measures to save the life of an innocent creature. Here are five of the most amazing animal rescue stories in the world.
The Dutch Horse Rescue
In November 2006, a ferocious storm stranded a herd of more than 100 horses on a tiny knoll in Marrum, the Netherlands. The animals were up to their knees in water, and by the third day they’d been stuck there, eighteen of the horses had slipped off the small piece of dry land and drowned. It seemed likely that the rest of the herd would die as well until rescuers launched a remarkable effort to save the horses, traveling in boats and on horseback to guide the stranded horses through the water-covered fields to safety. Watch the incredible video of the rescue effort here.
Dog Frozen to Train Tracks Rescued in the Nick of Time
Chippewa, Wisconsin isn’t a place where you want to spend too much time outside in the middle of winter. One December day in 2005, a construction crew called it quits because of the cold. As they were heading to a nearby restaurant, one of the workers, Jeremy Majorowicz, noticed a white Husky sitting on the train tracks. He thought it seemed a bit strange—but when he saw the dog in the exact same spot as they were leaving an hour and a half later, he knew something was wrong. The dog was frozen to the tracks.
Majorowicz tried to coax the dog off the tracks, but he didn’t budge. Soon, a police officer, Tim Strand, was alerted to the situation. Strand managed to pull the dog free of the tracks, leaving much of the animal’s hair stuck to the rails. Just ten minutes later, a train rushed through town, straight over the tracks where the dog had been sitting.
“If the dog would have seen that train I’m afraid it would have been the end of the pupster,” Strand told the Chippewa Herald.
Cat Rescued from Deli Wall
Molly the cat spent her days with her owner, Peter Myers, at his British deli in New York City, Myers of Keswick. Most of the time, she enjoyed lounging around the dining area with the clientele but one day, in 2006, she got a little too curious and crept into the basement, where she became stuck in a maze of beams and pipes. No one knew where she’d gone until she began to mew for help. By that point, she’d been stuck in the wall for twelve days.
Firefighters, animal rescue groups, police officers, and even a pet psychic all came to the deli to coax the cat out of the wall, but she refused to budge. Finally, two days later, volunteers drilled a hole in the wall, and discovered that her leg had become stuck in debris. When her rescuer, Kevin Clifford, got her out, “Paws were flying everywhere; it took a little struggle to get her in a cage,” he said.
Fortunately, Molly survived the ordeal—though she probably hasn’t felt like venturing too far outside the deli since then.
Dog Rescued from Hurricane Katrina After Seventy-Two Days without Food
Hurricane Katrina devastated the entire city of New Orleans—but residents’ pets were hit hardest of all. Many families, forced to evacuate with a moment’s notice, left their animals at home, assuming they’d return within a day or two. But as the city began to flood, days turned into weeks, and then into months. By the time residents and rescuers were finally allowed within the city limits, most of the animals were already dead.
Seventy-one days after the storm hit, rescuers from an organization called MuttShack Animal Rescue received a call to notify them of a live dog in a New Orleans house. The German shepherd was just a puppy, no older than six months. She had gone without food for months and was horribly emaciated. The MuttShack rescuers took her into their center for emergency treatment, and spent weeks feeding her by hand and teaching her the social skills she’d never had the chance to learn. The puppy eventually recovered, and was adopted into a loving home by a doctor in Ontario, Canada.
Thanks to MuttShack and other rescue groups, thousands of Katrina pets were saved from certain death, and are now living happily with new forever families.
Dog Caught By Fishermen a Mile from Shore
Last year, two fishermen were trawling for fish a mile off the coast of England in the North Sea when they spotted something furry in the water. They assumed it was an otter—then jumped with surprise to discover a small cairn terrier paddling furiously for his life. They lifted the soaking wet dog into their boat, and ordered a lifeboat to carry him back to shore.
As it turned out, the fourteen-year-old dog, named Freddie, belonged to a seventy-three-year-old woman named Jean Brigstock, who had taken him out for a walk on the beach. He became confused by the fog, and wandered into the water, leaving Brigstock frantically searching for him. When he attempted to swim back to shore, he accidentally found himself traveling farther and farther out to sea.
“He looked like a drowned rat when they found him,” Brigstock told the Daily Mail. “I’m so grateful to the two fishermen, the Coastguard and the inshore lifeboat men who took so much trouble to find him and take him to safety.”
Although Freddie was shaken by his wet adventure, he was no worse for the wear in the end. ‘The night he was rescued, he was a little bit under the weather. He was quite quiet and feeling sorry for himself,” said Brigstock. “But the next morning he was ready for his breakfast.”
Want to help the animal rescue effort yourself? Do your part with a donation to an organization like Best Friends Animal Society, MuttShack, or the Humane Society of the United States. For more details on wonderful groups working to prevent animal abuse, check out our Razoo Giving Guide to Animal Welfare.