One of the greatest things you can do is save a life, and that's exactly what pet adoption does. Read on for true stories from PawNation readers who rescued homeless animals, and find out why it was one of the best decisions they ever made.
Editor's Note: All stories published have been edited for clarity and length.
Lake Worth, Florida
Simba was a 2-year-old stray Boxer boy running the streets of Miami. He was half bald, oozing bloody sores from Demodex mites, he had clogged ears, a limp, he was 25 pounds underweight, not housebroken and had no leash manners. He gave me a body hug and wouldn't let go! We adopted Simba from Coastal Boxer Rescue here in South Florida. It took six months to cure this boy of his Demodex and bad manners. Simba is now the best dog ever! He shares his yard with an American Bulldog and a Golden Retriever. Happy we saved his life!
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I'm a kennel attendant, studying to be a veterinarian technician here in sweet ole Mississippi. A client at my work adopted a rescued Corgi whom she no longer had time for since the Corgi was a pup. Everyone at work knew I had a small obsession with Corgis. And that landed her straight in my lap. She has been with me since January and she is my sidekick. She is very social and friendly now. I'm glad I got her to come out of her shell. She has so much personality that it's hard not to notice her stumpy butt when she walks into a room. I love you, Sadie Mae!
MILI AND MURPHY
Boca Raton, Florida
In December, we decided to take the plunge and adopt our first dog together, Mili. She is young and sweet and very mellow. After the first couple of weeks, Mili was having a hard time being home alone. We tried everything to give her a secure feeling when we left. We finally hired a dog trainer that said Mili had terrible separation anxiety and really couldn't be left alone. We were really nervous to hear that news. Going back and forth, we decided to take another plunge and get a second dog. People thought we were nuts, two dogs in two months. We found Murphy. A gentle giant. A Rottweiler mix that would be intimidating to most, but this guy was a total mush. We brought Murphy home, holding our breath that they would like each other. The next morning we woke up to this ... They found each other. True love.
San Diego, California
My Minnow was found on the jetty in San Diego with a fish hook stuck inside of her throat. The Rescue House group caught her and had to operate on her or she would have died. I adopted her and she has been the sweetest, most loving little cat. It's hard to believe she was once feral and would have never survived.
This our Goldie. Someone dropped her on the side of the road by our house. She had been abused and was terrified of everything. She was about six months old. Several months later she learned to trust us. She's now almost four, spoiled rotten and my son's shadow.
A friend of ours found Cole at a busy intersection one evening in Tampa, Florida. He was all alone and she couldn't find his mum anywhere, so she took him home and texted us the pic on the left! We had to adopt him! He was only 5-6 weeks old and covered in fleas, but since then he's grown into a handsome man and just recently turned two years old. Black cats definitely bring good luck, we're so glad he chose us to be his humans!
This is our little Duke. A friend of my fiancé found him as a stray around where he worked. He was unable to keep him so he needed to find a home. My parents weren't too keen on another dog until I got Duke out if the car. He instantly melted my mom's heart and has been her baby ever since.
ELLIE, DIESEL, DERF AND LADYBIRD
Grass Valley, California
Elli, the black and white dog, is from Sammie's Friends and is a princess. She loves to come over with her owner and visit the boys! Diesel was our first! And the reason everyone decide it was time to save a life! He was tied to a pole by the highway and left. We went in not planning on getting a dog but his husky yells convinced us we needed to get him out! My boyfriend, two roommates and I scrounged up all the cash we had to rescue him. Derf, the Boxer mix, is my roommate's and our newest pup. He came from Sammie's, like Elli and Diesel. He is the silliest thing ever! On the end is Ladybird, my friend saved her from going to a kill shelter ... she is now ours! All the pups love their brother and sister kitties that we saved from under a house and they are always meeting new friends. There is nothing better to me then saving a life, and I only wish I could afford more!
This is my Boston Terrier, Little Man. I adopted him sight unseen from animal control a year ago. He is deaf from bad breeding and nobody wanted him. It was very difficult at first, but now he behaves very well. We have hand signals for "good boy" and "I love you."
GYPSY AND NORBERT
Gypsy came from a rescue center where she lived in the bottom of a pigeon coop crowded with guinea pigs and rabbits. We think she was about three. She had lice and her feet were deformed from uncut claws. We sorted the lice and feet. She lived with us for about three years in a large two-story indoor cage with a Norbert and another female guinea pig. Every evening, she got to roam the lounge and kitchen. On warm evenings and weekends, she got to run free on lush grass in and enclosed garden. Gypsy was a typical guinea pig, quite shy. She grew contentedly fat. When Gypsy was about six she just wore out. She died in a loving warm home.
Norbert came from a good small rescue center, but they didn't have much space. Norbert was maybe about two. He lived with us for about two years. We had him neutered. Norbert the brave, was NOT A NORMAL guinea pig! Norbert thought he was a small dog. He would run up to you and stand on your feet squeaking in greeting. He lit up our home in a way you wouldn't think possible for a rodent. He was taken from us suddenly at about four years old. He died on the vets' table while they where trying to save him. Even though we have a fantastic dog now, we still miss our Norbby.
I was looking for another dog through Petfinder.com and came across a pic of Emma and her four puppies. At the time I wanted an older dog and she was just the right age, one-and-a-half years old. Her previous owners brought her and the puppies in for unknown reasons The pups were adopted out very quickly, I was glad to see (they were gone by the time I decided I wanted Emma), and she was left alone. I filled out the papers to foster her at first to see how we got along ... after that week was up, I officially adopted her! She was stressed from being at the shelter — thin, nervous, very little sleep, etc., and now she looks great! The director and staff at the Nacogdoches Animal Shelter are great people and do care ... they were both happy and sad to see her leaving.
MAX AND KAYLA
Virginia Beach, Virginia
I have two rescues. Max, a Beagle-Bassett mix, came from the Norfolk Animal Care Center. He was a wandering stray they picked up. My husband fell in love with his honey-colored eyes and soon I did too. Kayla, a Husky-German Shepherd mix, was given up along with her sister to the Virginia Beach SPCA due to slight aggression and a new baby. Since we have gotten her, unless you are something in her yard (bird, bug, squirrel), she is a sweetheart.
I adopted Callie about two years ago from a PetSmart that, each month, has a different local shelter give them cats to help get them to loving homes. She was about six months old when I got her and is still spoiled rotten.
El Cajon, California
This is Burnie, left in the Chula Vista Animal Care Facility parking lot with burns over 80 percent of his 8-week-old body. We were the lucky ones allowed to be his forever family.
El Paso, Texas
This is Marly. We adopted her from a shelter in El Paso, Texas, that had almost no resources or volunteers. She was only 8 pounds and was filthy. At three months old, she had little to no human interaction and was caged most of the day. This little girl was full of insecurities and scared of everything. We worked with her diligently, completed an obedience class and now she is doing much better. She is happy, healthy and loved deeply. She is still afraid of men but we are working with her.
GINGER AND COCO
I adopted Ginger from the rescue where I volunteer. I've had her for three years. Not much was known about her story but she was very neglected (untreated kennel cough which led to current breathing problems, untreated dental and chronic seizures). When I first brought her home, she was scared of everything and everyone. Now? She has an abundance of confidence, and if you don't pet her, she will bark until you do! She no longer walks along the walls only — now she proudly struts to the center of the room. She's a ham!
Coco was in an abusive situation and his owners dropped him off at a no-kill shelter when he was two. I happened upon him when searching for a second dog. He spent almost a year there where I happened to adopt him. He was very scared of men and any sudden movements when he wasn't expecting anything. Six years later, he is the light of my life — and I think he loves my boyfriend more than me! Fear of anyone is gone and now sudden movements put him into play mode!
Moore Haven, Florida
This is my new dog, Rowdy, from Humane Society Naples. He is a little love bug but does not like men very much! We just don't know what happened in his previous life! We are working with him to try to overcome his fear of men.
First I'd like to say that all of my four pets have been rescues, however my Pekingese, Beaux, is my most rewarding. I rescued him from a women who could not properly care for him nor provide much-needed medical care (she had adopted him from a shelter but wasn't ready for the long road to wellness that lay ahead). Once I took him over, he began a strict diet, was given a regimen of holistic therapies and lots of love, and I'm proud to say that eight months later, he looks and feels amazing!
This is my little Koi, adopted him a year and a half ago at the Hawaii Humane Society. When I was looking online, I told my husband I wanted his brother. He said, "Don't decide until you get there." I'm glad I didn't, because we had an instinct connection. I had to wait a week to bring him home so I would visit him and we formed a bound. Can't even describe how it feels when I see his face standing at the screen door watching for me when I pull up the driveway. I understand the bumper stickers that say "My Dog Rescued Me" — so true.
I found Wilie in Madison, Tennessee, sniffing a light pole one afternoon. He was full of mange and fleas and was really scared when I picked him up. I took him to the vet and of course he was not microchipped or neutered so I decided to keep him. I call him Mr. Inspector because every morning he loves to go out in the yard and howl when he smells squirrels or cats. Wilie, I believe, is part Dachshund and part Beagle.
This my Daisy. I adopted her from the Humane Society of Carroll County, Maryland, almost six years ago. She was badly abused and scared, but is much better now and more outgoing and curious. I love her to death — she's my baby.
Panama City, Florida
This is my baby boy, Braxton. He was dumped at the Humane Society of South Mississippi with his three sisters as 10-week-old pups, and I adopted him a week after he came in. He has been my constant companion since, and has been with me through hard times and good. He is now four months old and nearly 35 pounds.
Canoga Park, California
Here is our Lil Man. We adopted him at the No-Kill Los Angeles event last November. We fell in love instantly. We got him to the car, where he crawled on my lap, sighed, and fell asleep. This is his bodyguard pose. I'm in love with all 9 pounds of him.
Next: Veterans Give Rescue Cats a Chance
MCHENRY AND CANDY
In December 2010, Christmas Day, I lost my dog of 13 years, Dakota. After grieving for her, I really wanted another puppy for our other dog, Denver. So I began looking at shelters and came across a shelter in Oldtown, Maryland, called The Ark of Hope Rescue. They had seven puppies in and I just loved them all! We picked out two, a male and a female, to see which one would get along with our other male. Needless to say, both came home and both stayed! Three years later, these two dogs McHenry and Candy are the best thing that has ever happened to our family!!!