Amazing Animal Rescues You Won’t Believe

two beagle


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Sad Beagle Dog in cage

Awesome Animals

From missing dogs who brought the whole town out to look for them to koalas saved by a canine, many lucky animals have been rescued from daunting conditions and difficult scenarios. Recent stories of creatures that got their happily-ever-afters include 4,000 beagles rescued before they could be used for laboratory experiments.


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Asian black bear
nature keeper/istockphoto

Black Bears, Miniature Horses, and Others Rescued From Roadside Zoo

After lawsuits and numerous citations for animal welfare and violations over two decades.ended up shuttering the Tri-State Zoological Park (Tri-State Zoo) in Maryland, the rescue organization Lions Tigers & Bears in San Diego swooped in to save some exotic creatures who had been living in deplorable conditions. These included two Himalayan black bears named Sallie and Susie, two miniature horses, a lama, two emus, two coatis, two geese, and a potbellied pig. The bears, horses, and llama stayes at the San Diego rescue while the others were delivered to a sanctuary in Texas.

closeup of a dog cage

4,000 Beagles Saved From Lab Experiments

If you've ever dreamed of a pet beagle, this is your chance to save a few. About 4,000 were rescued from a breeding facility in Virginia. The animals were intended to be sold to laboratories to be used for drug experiments. The lucky pups have a new lease on life and are being placed in shelters in several states, including Illinois and Pennsylvania. Rescuing the beagles had been a long-time effort, apparently, with attempts to shut down the facility where the dogs were being experimented on dating back to 2019. 

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All paws down, I’m the cutest

Kitten Rescued From Vending Machine

You know that feeling of disappointment that stirs in the pit of your stomach when you press a button on the vending machine and something else comes out in its place? Well, you've got nothing on the Walmart employee in Tennessee who had to call the local fire department to rescue a kitten that somehow got stuck inside the machine. Once they finally freed the kitty, the employee took it home with her. Firefighters suggested naming it "Pepsi."

Closeup Portrait of a large Sea Lion

Sea Lion Saved From Busy Highway

Litter and abandoned vehicles are normal side-of-the-freeway sightings. But some drivers in San Diego saw something a little more out of the ordinary in January: a sea lion in the median. Motorists reported sightings of the animal, which had made its way from the shoulder to the median, and drivers pulled over to corral it before help arrived. A rescue team from SeaWorld San Diego used nets to retrieve the sea lion and bring it to safety. After a month of rehabilitation, the 200-pound animal was released back into the Pacific Ocean, where it might find rush-hour traffic a little easier to navigate.


Drone With Sausage Lures Dog to Safety

How's this for some tasty teamwork? In January, a dog named Millie slipped away during a walk in southern England, eventually making her way onto some precarious mudflats. But rescuers were worried that their more traditional efforts to save her — that is, via foot and kayak — would cause her to go even further out. So after a couple of days, a rescue organization decided it had nothing to lose, and tied cooked sausages to drones. Dangling the tempting treats worked like a charm, luring Millie to safer ground.

Old african tortoise in its natural habitat

Firefighters Save Dog From Suffocation by Tortoise

You can't make this stuff up, folks: An Arizona family called in firefighters for a one-of-a-kind rescue after they realized that their French bulldog, Bruce, was trapped inside the backyard burrow of their tortoise, Bianca. The 50-pound Bianca — who the family says is not a fan of the dog — was preventing Bruce from exiting the 6-foot-deep hole. After consulting a tortoise expert, firefighters dug carefully into the burrow, which eventually prodded Bianca to exit, freeing the dog. The family pledged to put Bruce (affectionally described as an "idiot") through his paces with a trainer to make sure he doesn't run afoul of Bianca in the future. 

Alert Bull Elk

Elk Loses His Spare Tire

A bull elk in Colorado had been carrying around a spare tire for over two years, but unlike pandemic pounds, all the weight stayed around his neck. First spotted in 2019, the elk remained elusive, though he showed up on trail cameras occasionally. Thanks to a community tipster, wildlife officials were finally able to find and tranquilize the 600-pound animal. His skin was in good condition, but officials had to remove his antlers to get the tire off. All in all, he lost an estimated 35 pounds during his nap.

Cat Holding the Rope

Cat Saved From Stadium Balcony Drop

Forget the football — it was all about catching a cat at a September 2021 Miami Hurricanes game. When a cat somehow sneaked into the stadium and got tangled in the upper deck facade, fans stopped watching the game and focused on a rescue plan. When the distressed kitty tumbled to the lower deck, quick-thinking fans used an American flag to break its fall. The lucky cat, held up for the crowd to roar its appreciation, appeared to be unharmed.

Simon the Shih Tzu Before and After
KC Pet Project

Dog Freed From 7 Pounds of Matted Fur

A stray Shih Tzu in Kansas City, Missouri, needed more than a makeover. KC Pet Project was unsure if the dog, covered in matted fur, was even, well, a dog. When the dog was given a shave, it turned out he had 7 pounds of matted fur covering his body. Underneath, the little dog was skinny, covered in fleas, and in need of dental surgery, but otherwise in good shape.

A Golden Doodle dog plays
Bruce Bennett / Staff / Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images North America / Getty Images CC

Pup on Thin Ice for Days

A scruffy young dog recovered after spending four days stuck on ice in the Detroit River in early 2021. The sweet stray was found floating on a small piece of river ice and eventually reached via airboat. Despite frostbitten paws, dehydration and even a prowling coyote, the pup escaped near death. His rescuers think his overgrown coat is what insulated him enough to save him.


Owner Rescues Puppy From Alligator's Jaws

A 3-month-old King Charles Cavalier puppy in Florida was the subject of a dramatic rescue in 2020 when his owner saved him from the clutches of an alligator. The pup was walking by a pond when the alligator bolted out and snatched the pup from his retiree owner’s gaze. The owner acted fast and jumped in the water, wrestling the alligator and prying its mouth open to release the puppy. Both owner and pup emerged unscathed from the frightening encounter.

Labrador Retriever

Lab on the Lam for Over a Month

In November 2020, Lexi, an 11-year-old Labrador retriever in Fairfield, Connecticut, was visiting a farm with her owner when she got spooked and ran off into the woods. What followed was an adventure worthy of “The Incredible Journey.” For six weeks, Lexi evaded hundreds of volunteers, all of them desperate to save the pup from frigid conditions and dangerously low temperatures. Periodically, Lexi would be caught on Ring doorbell videos, leading to frantic attempts by her owner and volunteers to catch her. Finally, after 42 days, Lexi was caught when she went into a humane rescue trap to snag some chicken. When her owner came to get her, she remembered her right away, and today is safely at home with her family.


Backpack Full of Kittens Nearly Recycled

A backpack with crying sounds made its way onto a recycling conveyor belt in Westampton, New Jersey, right before Christmas in 2020. Luckily employees noticed, dashing to the rescue of three kittens stuck inside it. Amazingly, the kittens had survived being dumped with cans and bottles into a recycling truck and then dumped again into the center. All of the kittens received a clean bill of health and were adopted in time for the holidays.

seal pup

Seal Pup Stranded Among Treadmills

Employees in Wales were surprised when they came across a seal pup stuck among the treadmills in a gym equipment warehouse in 2020. It’s thought that the seal came from the River Loughor and found his way inside. The workers were able to get him back into the river, but two days later the seal pup had to be rescued again when he was found stuck in a ditch filled with oily water. Animal rescue volunteers were able to save the pup in time and he is now in a rehabilitation center for wildlife.


Donkeys Rescued With Cupcakes

During the 2018 Paradise wildfires in California, numerous animals were rescued from terrifying conditions. A pair of donkeys were found by firefighters running down the road away from flames. The firefighters were able to lure the donkeys to safety by offering them a treat of cupcakes, which the cute duo simply couldn’t refuse.

Cute Cat
Ingus Kruklitis/istockphoto

Kitten Found Stuck to the Road

There’s a reason they say cats have nine lives. A driver noticed what he thought was a black box in the middle of the road, but when he got closer, discovered it was a kitten with glue on its paws that had been stuck to the road. The driver took the kitten home, cleaned her off, and named her Sticky, giving her a new chance at life and a happy home.


Dozens of Stranded Dolphins Rescued

In August 2020, animal rescuers responded to a call of at least 30 stranded dolphins off the coast of Wellfleet, Massachusetts. When trained volunteers arrived, there were 43 live dolphins stuck in the mud, desperately struggling with heat stroke and shock. With one volunteer for every seven dolphins, the team worked quickly against the tide to keep the animals breathing as they heralded them into deeper waters, while making sure the animals in deeper peril received immediate veterinary care. In the end, 39 of the dolphins were saved.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Canine Koala Sniffer Helps Save Lives

The 2019-'20 Australian bushfires destroyed nearly 80% of koalas’ habitat. That’s why it was so important to bring in specially trained koala-sniffing dogs to find sick and injured koalas. Bear, an Australian Koolie Dog, was one such dog taught to sniff out living koalas, and along with the help of his handler and a koala spotter, rescue them. From November 2019 to April 2020, Bear found more than 100 injured, sick, dehydrated, or starving koalas, helping to save their lives.


Stranded Goat Rescued From Towering Ledge

Rescuers in a small town in England recently saved a goat that was stuck on a ledge over 150 feet up in pouring rain. The goat had been stuck there for two days and was too exhausted and scared to move. With the help of a firehose, rescuers sprayed water near the goat to encourage him to move, and eventually were able to coax him off the ledge to safety.


Canine Caught in a Canal

Volunteers from the rescue Hope For Paws in Los Angeles received a call about a small dog with a severely injured leg. Witnesses saw the dog thrown 30 feet into a canal, where he was whimpering for help. The rescue team was able to climb down a long ladder to rescue the pup and get him to the emergency vet in time. Today, the dog, now named Jordan, has a happy life with human and canine siblings.


Pup and Family Reunited After Years

A pup named Runt wandered off his family’s farm, and no one knew where he went. It turned out he went 10 miles down the road, where he was fed by people in the neighborhood for years. Runt ended up in a shelter, where he was named Roscoe. After his story was posted on Facebook, his original family happened to see it. They were elated to reunite three years after the dog’s disappearance.


Injured Porcupine Rescued and Reunited With Mate

A good Samaritan came across an injured porcupine with burns on its face caused by wildfires in Washington state during Labor Day weekend 2020. The porcupine was missing quills, appeared weak, and was behaving as if it was blind. The do-gooder decided to take in the porcupine, who she named Porky, and nursed it back to health. When the animal was ready to be rereleased into the wild, the porcupine immediately found its mate and friends in the trees, resulting in a gleeful porcupine party with plenty of teeth chattering.


Lucky Leopard Saved From Deep Well

A farmer in a small village in India received a surprise when he looked down into a well and saw a pair of eyes looking up at him, which belonged to a terrified leopard. The animal had fallen into a 30-foot deep well and was trapped in waist-deep water. A team of wildlife rescuers from a leopard rescue center were able to save the animal by lowering a ladder into the well for the leopard to climb onto for support. She then entered a trap cage, which allowed rescuers to pull her to safety.


Celeb Saves Abandoned Donkey and Emu

A donkey and emu were found abandoned by their owner in South Carolina, and it became clear that wherever the duo ended up for their new home, it would have to be together. Both animals became immediately stressed and anxious whenever they were away from each other. Actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan saw the sweet set’s story and offered them a new home at his farm in New York state. He named them Jack and Diane, and they now live happily ever after.


Goats Help Protect Presidential Library

In this plot twist, animals helped humans by having a good meal. Five hundred goats were released in May 2020 to chow down on flammable scrub surrounding the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California, as a preventative measure to slow the flames and give firefighters more time to do their job, saving the building from fire.