There is a saying that dogs are a man’s best friend. Many pet owners feel like their pups are practically their children, and they would do anything to keep them out of harm’s way. These 10 stories are about people who stepped up to save dogs’ lives from extraordinary circumstances.
(Note: this article contains some disturbing stuff, especially if you’re a dog lover. Each entry has a more or less happy ending, but proceed with caution if you have particular difficulty reading about – or watching, in the case of the videos – dogs in danger.)
10. Iceberg Ahead!
Siberia is one of the coldest places on the planet, with temperatures reaching as low as negative 90 degrees Fahrenheit. In 2010, a Siberian fishing boat spotted a black dog that somehow managed to get itself stranded on a tiny iceberg in the middle of the Okhotsk Sea.
Clearly, the water is so cold that the dog would not be unable to paddle his way to safety before freezing to death, so the frightened canine could only bark for help. One brave sailor tied a rope around his waist and swam into the frigid water. He grabbed hold of the iceberg, while his coworkers pulled them both in. Once the dog was back on land, he was reunited with his other stray friends. Hopefully, none of them will ever get themselves stuck on an iceberg again.
An Australian ultramarathon runner named Dion Leonard was in a week-long race across the Gobi Desert in China. A scruffy little stray Chihuahua-Terrier mix began running alongside him. Photos of Dion and the dog circulated all over Chinese media, making her an overnight pup celebrity. Dion decided to name her “Gobi.” They finished the race, and both earned the silver medal together.
During the race, Dion formed a special bond with the Gobi, and he wanted to adopt her. Chinese law requires that in order for an animal to go overseas, it needs to spend time in quarantine first. So Dion left Gobi in the care of his friend, who lived in a busy industrial city called Urumqi.
Unfortunately, little Gobi was feeling restless, and she managed to escape the apartment. When Dion heard the news, he flew back to China, and began a 10-day long search. When he posted on social media that Gobi was missing, citizens of Urumqi began sending him potential leads. By no small miracle, one family actually found Gobi, and the two were reunited. Dion wrote an autobiography called Finding Gobi, and there is already a movie in the works about their story.
8. High-Speed Rescue
Unfortunately, it’s all too common for people to dump a dog on the side of the road when they no longer want to take care of it. Usually, this is done in an area with trees where a dog at least has a chance of survival, but in this story, the former owner of one canine decided to dump their dog in the middle of an incredibly busy highway in Romania, where all it could do was cower under the median.
A veterinary surgeon named Ovidiu Rosu was driving down this same highway, when he spotted the tiny dog. Ovidiu pulled over right away, and risked his own life by running across the busy highway. After earning its trust, the pup crawled towards Ovidiu, and he was able to bring it to safety. He then brought the dog to his house, and later found him a forever home.
7. Comedy for a Cause
The French comedian Remi Gaillard has over 6 million subscribers from prank videos he uploads to YouTube. After his dog passed away in 2016, he decided that in honor of his pup’s memory, wanted to pull a stunt that would encourage more people to adopt.
Remi locked himself in a cage at the Montpellier animal shelter until all of its 200 dogs were adopted. He also aimed to raise 50,000 Euros to go towards animal shelters. Remi lived in the cage for a full 87 hours, and he broadcast it on Facebook Live. This caught the attention of local media, and hundreds of fans showed up to meet Remi and adopt dogs. In the end, he actually managed to raise well past his original goal, raising over 200,000 Euros, and every single one of the dogs in the shelter found a home.
In April 2017, someone stabbed a 10-year old poodle 19 times. Despite the fact that the attacker deserves to rot in Hell, they left the dog on the steps of a church. The dog somehow managed to survive, but it was quickly losing blood, and very close to dying.
The Humane Society of Missouri showed up just in time to save the poodle’s life, and they named her Frannie. One of the first responders felt an immediate connection with the pup, and decided to take Frannie home. Today, Frannie has fully recovered, and she is enjoying life with a new family that loves her.
5. Dog Retirement Home
Everyone loves a puppy, but when dogs become elderly, it becomes more and more difficult for their owners to take care of them. Whether it’s due to the expense of medical care, or the lack of time in their schedule, it’s all too common for owners to choose to put their elderly dog in an animal shelter. Unfortunately, most of those dogs never get adopted, and are put to sleep.
A woman named Sher Polvinale from Gaithersburg, Maryland, couldn’t stand to let senior dogs die alone. She decided to turn her own house into a retirement home for dogs, and created a non-profit organization called House With A Heart. Sher wakes up at 6 AM and doesn’t stop working until midnight looking after the dozens of dogs and tending to their medical needs. It’s very much a full-time job, which is why she relies on donations and income generated from a separate dog kennel business in her home. She also gets help from local dog-loving volunteers to make it all happen. Since 2006, Sher has completely devoted her life to make sure these dogs will live out the rest of their lives as comfortably as possible, until the very end.
4. The Dogs of Dowdy’s Ferry
In 2014, a woman from Dallas named Marina Tarashevska learned that a long stretch of road called “Dowdy’s Ferry” had become a dumping ground for unwanted dogs. On her first trip to the location, Marina was able to locate 10 abandoned dogs. Marina continued to visit Dowdy’s Ferry several times per week. Sadly, she finds bodies of dead dogs more often than live ones. She has openly criticized the city of Dallas on their lackluster efforts to help resolve this problem.
The Dallas Animal Shelter has a policy that if a dog doesn’t have a microchip, they are euthanized within just 72 hours of their arrival. Former dog catchers for the city reported that they were instructed to stop catching dogs in order to improve the reputation of the city’s euthanasia rates. So Marina has taken it upon herself to rescue dogs, and then share their information on her Facebook group in order to find them a loving home.
Dumping is against the law. So far, there has only been one arrest by Dallas police, and it’s because Marina filmed the license plate of a truck who was dumping dogs at night. Thankfully, even though Marina is having troubling finding local help, she has received support from a group called Second Chance Rescue. The only downside is that it’s all the way in New York.
Tiger the pitbull had a rough life, to say the least. The dog is over 10 years old, and he became deaf and blind. So when his original owner couldn’t handle Tiger’s care anymore, he was adopted by a woman named Lexie Tinsley. Unfortunately, after owning him for about a year, Tiger managed to escape.
What Lexie didn’t know was that Tiger had become friends with a stray Chihuahua. The two pups were walking through a local park in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. The river had frozen over, so Tiger kept walking on top of the solid ice until he fell into the freezing river. Thankfully, a man named Micah Siemers was at the park, and witnessed the pitbull struggling in the water. He used a nearby extension cord as a lasso, and pulled the dog to safety.
A stray dog in Udaipur, India, was looking for a place to sleep. So it crawled into an open barrel that was laying on its side. Sadly, it didn’t realize that the barrel was full of black tar. The dog’s body heat melted the tar overnight, and it became stuck, with no way for it to get it out.
Rescuers from an organization called Animal Aid Unlimited had to use vegetable oil to get her out of the tar, and carefully removed the muck from her fur. Her body had been badly burned on one side, and it took over 3 hours of work before the dog could stand on her own. Since that day, she had made a full recovery. The rescuers decided to name her “Asha,” which means “Hope” in Hindi.
1. The Yulin Festival
This next story is the most upsetting story by far, which is why it was left for last.
In some parts of China and Cambodia, people eat dog meat. In their culture, they don’t see any difference between killing a chicken for meat versus killing a dog. One animal rights activist named Marc Ching from Los Angeles goes undercover to Asian dog meat factories under the guise of a wealthy American investor. He negotiates bringing home some “samples” of live dogs who have been tortured, saying that he will decide what he thinks of the meat quality later. In reality, Marc brings the dogs back to Los Angeles, where he provides them with medical care and sets them up for adoption.
Every year, there are over 20 million dogs killed in China for meat. Unfortunately, there is only so much that one man can do. However, Marc’s actions contributed to putting a spotlight on the issue. In 2017, a huge group of animal rights activists from Humane Society International stopped a truck in Southern China heading to the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. The group managed to save over 1,000 dogs from being eaten.