2012 was not just a year of celebrity pets and amazing animal photos, it was a year filled with incredible miracles for some of our brave furry friends. In the face of great adversity and struggle, these animals were able to beat the odds and in many cases, cheated death. Here are 12 indefatigable creatures who — miraculously — are still here with us to see 2013.
CAT FALLS 19 STORIES FROM APARTMENT
Sugar the cat might have fewer lives this year, but that's just fine since she used one to survive a 19-story drop from an apartment window last March. Her owner, Brittany Kirk, said that Sugar slipped out of the cracked window and fell 200 feet down to her Boston street. After an examination from the Animal Rescue League, it was concluded that Sugar suffered no injuries except for some light bruising on her lungs. According to her vet, Sugar was lucky that her fall was long — longer falls give cats a chance to relax and orient themselves. Sugar was able to spread out her limbs and slow the fall. From now on, Kirk plans on keeping the windows closed and cuddling Sugar snug in her arms.
THINNEST LIVING DOG NURSED BACK TO HEALTH
Last May, hearts broke when the world was introduced to Hope, a Staffordshire mix that was found neglected and malnourished near Somerset, England. The RSPCA center in Weston-super-Mare came to her rescue and found her in a cardboard box near the side of the road. She was believed to be 1 to 2 years old and weighed just 17 pounds (half her expected, healthy weight). Hope was too weak to walk or eat when she was found. Thanks to the constant care of vet Anna Parry at Bridge Veterinary Practice, Hope survived. When she first arrived, she had to be wrapped in blankets and bubble wrap to keep warm. Slowly, but surely, Hope was taken off the IV, became more responsive and was able to eat again. While she still has a long road to recovery, she is doing just fine.
KOALA RECOVERS FROM DOG ATTACK
Last November, Peta, a three-year-old female koala, was brought to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital by wildlife rescuers after it was discovered that five dogs attacked her in Kallangur, Australia. She sustained two broken legs, deep puncture wounds and lost half of her ear. The veterinarian who treated Peta noted that the months between July and December is mating season for Koalas, which puts them in danger as they are on the move to find a mate. Domestic pet attacks are very common to the area, especially to koalas. Peta is very lucky to have survived.
DOG SHOT & HIT BY CAR LIVES
The Parque de Terra Nova shelter in Northern Portugal receives countless pleas for help on a daily basis, and while they aren't able to respond to them all, there was one call in January that they could not ignore. Shelter employees rushed to a highway where a dog had been run over. They were happy to see that the Shih Tzu mix was still breathing, but things did not look good. He had blood streaks all over his body, his hair was tangled, his leg was dangling and blood was coming out of his head and eyes. They immediately took the injured dog to the vet. The vet found eight lead pellets in his head — one which destroyed his eyeball and the others embedded in his skull. The poor dog had been shot eight times and hit by a car, yet was still alive. The vet also determined that the dog was 15 years old. However, in spite of everything, Zarigum the dog dodged death and is back in good health.
BABY HEDGEHOGS RESCUED FROM BEHIND WASHING MACHINE
It was a normal laundry day in June for couple Kelly and Lee Tuck at their home in Weston-super-Mare, England. But what wasn't so normal was what they found behind their washing machine. Lee Tuck discovered three baby hedgehogs nestled up in a pile of dead leaves. Tuck placed the trio into a box in hopes that their mother would return. After realizing that she was nowhere near, the Tucks sent the baby hedgehogs to the Secret World Wildlife Rescue. They planned to release them back into the wild once they were nursed back to health.
KITTEN STUCK IN BUMPER SURVIVES ROAD TRIP
Last June, a little kitten went for the ride of its life after a couple drove over 400 miles not knowing a cat was stuck inside the front bumper of the car. Russ Perry thought he heard meows coming from around his car before he departed on a road trip from Phoenix to California, but didn't think too much about it. When the couple made their first pit stop in Quartzsite, Arizona, they heard the meowing again. They searched everywhere for fear that a cat got caught under the hood, but couldn't find anything. The couple heard meowing at two more stops after that and finally took their car to the mechanic. The mechanic traced the source of the meows to a plastic guard under the front bumper. After popping it out, he found a 5-week-old kitten! One of the owners of the repair shop decided to keep the cat, who was named Phoenix after its original hometown.
GOLDFISH TURNS 24 YEARS OLD
Most people have had at least one pet goldfish in their life, but can barely remember its name due to the swimmers' short lifespans. That's not the case for Paul Palmer, who won Sharky the goldfish at a carnival 24 years ago in New Castle, England, when he was just four years old. Palmer never dreamed that his pet fish would live as long as it has, especially after his mother warned him that it might not live very long. Boy, did Sharky show them. However, the lucky goldfish still has a ways to go as far as breaking any records; the longest-living goldfish on record lived to be 43! Still, Sharky has truly defied odds and does not look like he's going anywhere anytime soon.
BUBBLES THE MIRACLE PUPPY
When Bubbles the puppy was born, no one thought he would live very long. The tiny dog had a heart murmur and difficulty breathing. Diana Lewis, North Devon Animal Ambulance driver, did not want to give up on the dog and decided to take him home and be his foster mom. Since October, Lewis has devoted all of her time to nursing Bubbles back to help. She fed him baby bottles of goat's milk and tended to the pup's every health issue. Luckily, three weeks later, Bubbles bounced back and has become a brand new dog. He is ready to find his new home.
LION RECEIVES CANCER TREATMENT
Tsavo the lion underwent his last cancer treatment in July after the University of Tennessee's Veterinary Medical Center in Knoxville discovered a tumor on his mouth. The 11-year-old, 357-pound animal has undergone four treatments to remove the tumor which once was the size of an orange. Thanks to the innovative procedures, Tsavo's tumor shrunk from ten centimeters to six centimeters. The veterinarians hope that the tumor will continue to shrink and disappear on its own. What a brave little lion!
DOG SURVIVES 250-FOOT FALL OFF CLIFF
We've heard about cats surviving big falls, but dogs? Norman the 18-month-old Weimaraner seems to be the exception. Last August, Norman survived a 250-foot drop over the White Cliffs of Dover, England. Norman's owner Simon Spore told BBC that his fiancée's son was on a walk with the dog when it began to chase a rabbit. The boy lost control over Norman and the dog tumbled over the cliffs, landing in the docks below. Dock workers came to Norman's side and saw that while the dog looked hurt, he was still alive. After an examination, it was concluded that Norman had suffered a collapsed lung and broken pelvis, but amazingly, was ultimately fine. Norman was able to make a speedy recovery and can now move around with little pain.
YOUNG GORILLAS DISABLE SNARE
According to National Geographic, a group of young gorillas at the Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda stunned researchers in July when they were spotted disabling traps set by poachers. The speed at which they disassembled the trap has researchers believing that these clever creatures have performed the task before. They were able to do so by breaking the tree that supported the trap and undoing the ropes of the noose. Although young gorillas are the most at risk when it comes to snare-related injuries or deaths, this intelligent group managed to do the unthinkable and saved themselves from death.
Next: R.I.P. Animals of 2012
INJURED DOG RESCUED FROM MOUNTAIN
On August 11, a German Shepherd was found injured and abandoned on the Mount Bierstadt mountain range in Colorado. Lucky for her, two hikers, Scott and Amanda Washburn, found the pup. They called her Lucky, although she was in pretty bad shape. The dog had bloody paws, was dehydrated and could not walk. The Washburns couldn't leave the dog, but were unable to carry it down the 14,000-ft. mountain descent. They applied bandages to her paws and tried to get the dog to walk, but she refused. Washburn then posted a photo of the dog on a social website for hikers called 14ers.com. Within one day, a group of people volunteered to attempt a rescue. Two days later, they hiked to the spot where she was last seen and found her in the same exact spot. They put Lucky in a specially made backpack to bring her down the mountain safely. She was then taken to a veterinarian and was found without any fractures or internal injuries. The Washburns hope to take Lucky home. Meanwhile, Lucky's former owner came forward and confessed to abandoning her on the mountaintop. He is being charged with animal cruelty.