35 Animal Rescues That Will Make Your Day

PETA and its affiliated organizations have been saving animals as big as elephants and as small as mice for 35 years. By encouraging people to respect all lives, we’ve become the largest animal rights organization in the world. Read on for 35 heartwarming animal-rescue stories—one for each year that PETA has been around:

1. Buddy and Cooper

Buddy-and-Cooper-Dogs© Emile Hallez

A PETA investigation of Professional Laboratory and Research Services (PLRS) revealed cruelty to hundreds of animals. Dogs spent years in cages, living in complete misery. They were sprayed with powerful hoses, force-fed chemicals, and even infected with worms on purpose, which can make animals feel sick or even kill them. After PETA released the evidence from the investigation, PLRS closed its doors and let Buddy, Cooper, and nearly 250 other animals go free.

2. Harry and Houdini


These two ducklings were given as a gift for Valentine’s Day. The person who received them had no idea how to care for baby ducks, so Harry and Houdini spent their early days in a small plastic crate in a living room—a totally unnatural life. The two ducklings never even left the crate until the woman called PETA and asked us to take them. After recovering at the Virginia Beach SPCA, Harry and Houdini went to live on a vegetarian farm in the country with a PETA member.

3. Parineeta

Donkey Parineeta Rescue© Sean Noronha

This beautiful girl was found with a broken leg, lying in the middle of a road in India. Someone had cut her sensitive nostrils with a knife and she was in terrible pain. Like many animals used by humans, she had been abandoned once it was decided that she wasn’t useful anymore. A kind person alerted Animal Rahat, a PETA-supported animal-relief group in India, and staffers took her there, where she made a full recovery.

4. Ben

Ben the bear spent six long years locked inside a tiny cage on a cold, hard concrete floor. He only had a bowling ball and some moldy stumps of wood to play with.


Luckily, Ben was rescued by PETA, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and some concerned citizens who fought to win his freedom. Today, he is living out his days at the Performing Animal Welfare Society—a wildlife sanctuary in Northern California. (Between 2012 and 2015, PETA saved more than 40 bears like Ben from concrete pits and pathetic pens.)

5. Bubbles, Brandi, and Marshall


About 30 cats and 50 dogs were evacuated from extremely crowded shelters when there was an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Brandi was nearly bald from stress and flea allergies. Marshall was missing one of his hind legs and half of his tail after being abused by cruel people. Bubbles was anxious and jumped at every noise. The three kitties are now happy and healthy and live together at PETA’s Norfolk, Virginia, headquarters, the Sam Simon Center.

6. Bella, Edward, and 26,000 Other Exotic Animals

Lemurs Bella and Edward were two of thousands of animals rescued from U.S. Global Exotics, which was one of our country’s biggest exotic-animal dealers. It bought and sold animals who were either kidnapped from their homes in the wild or born in captivity. PETA’s investigator spent months documenting the horror that went on there and helped get Bella and Edward transferred to a permanent home at the Detroit Zoo—a progressive zoo that takes in rescued animals. Finally, they were able to live like lemurs again, instead of being treated like “merchandise.”

7. Coco

Coco-Love-Dog-Rescue Gif

PETA got a call to pick up an “aggressive” dog, but what we found was Coco, a sweet pup who was starving to death, neglected, and kept outside 24/7. She was very sick and underweight, so we rushed her to a veterinarian. PETA and the Virginia Beach SPCA helped her find a “forever family,” and Coco is now happy and healthy.

8. These Lobsters


Ten lobsters were suffering in a “crane game” machine at a restaurant in Virginia Beach, Virginia. They reportedly had not been fed in three whole weeks. A worried employee contacted PETA, and with the help of some very compassionate staff, we convinced the manager to give us the lobsters. We cut off the uncomfortable rubber bands around their claws, and with expert guidance, the lobsters were released back into their ocean home.

9. Lucy, Peggy, and More Than 200 Other Rabbits


After a PETA investigation at a Maryland rabbit-hoarding facility, Lucy, Peggy, and more than 200 others were rescued from the cramped, filthy conditions, and the owner of the facility was punished by law.

10. Valediction


When Sam Simon, cofounder of the TV show The Simpsons, heard about Valediction’s suffering, he knew he had to help. “He had been run on bad legs to start with and had clearly been injured during the race and had stood there shaking, unable to put weight on his feet,” said Sam. So he bought the sad horse, and PETA arranged for him to be sent to a beautiful farm in Virginia. Valediction is now living “happily ever after” and will never be forced to race again.

11. Brad, Angie, and 400 Other Chinchillas

With donations from Sam Simon, PETA was able to close down one of the largest chinchilla farms in California. In addition to rescuing Brad and Angie and more than 400 others, PETA removed equipment to make sure that the factory farm will never breed, sell, or kill animals again.

12. Blue


During the freezing cold winter months, in Virginia and North Carolina, PETA staffers and volunteers spend every weekend delivering straw bedding and doghouses to dogs in need. On one of these trips, PETA volunteers found Blue locked inside a crate outside, along with the body of another dog named Dynasty, who had been abused and starved to death. He was miserable and very hungry, but his story has a happy ending. He was adopted into a loving home, and his former owner went to prison for a year for cruelty to animals and was banned from owning animals for three years.

13. These Bunnies


These rabbits lived in a breeder’s backyard and were scheduled to be sold for their fur and meat before PETA stepped in to stop it. We found the rabbits living in filthy cages with wire on the bottom, which hurt their sensitive feet. Some of the rabbits had teeth that were so overgrown, they’d begun to curve back into their mouths. But the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA agreed to give the animals veterinary care and then put them up for adoption.

14. Alaska


Alaska was one of seven skinny, unhealthy polar bears forced to perform with the Suarez Bros. Circus in Mexico. They were living in dirty cages with no relief from extremely hot temperatures. PETA complained to authorities about them multiple times. All the bears—except 18-year-old Royal, who died on his way to a new home—were rescued and placed in zoos in more appropriate climates. It wasn’t long before their years spent in a hot, miserable prison had faded into a distant memory.

15. Ursula, O.B., and 15 Other Bears

Ursula Bears Gif

Thanks to the generosity of PETA supporters, 17 bears were rescued from miserable concrete pits at a roadside zoo in Georgia. The bears are now happily roaming acres of natural habitat at The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado.

16. Henrietta

PETA fieldworkers found Henrietta and six other chickens imprisoned in a cluttered pen belonging to a woman who was moving away but hadn’t found the chickens a new home. PETA took the chickens to a sanctuary, where they now enjoy roaming a large meadow and taking dust baths.

17. Waheed and Tracy

Camels Waheed and Tracy suffered for most of their lives from poor treatment. Waheed was forced to give people rides, and Tracy was used in a circus. But everything changed after they were rescued by Animal Rahat. They met each other and fell in love. Now they are always together and will never have to suffer again.

18. Arthur

Arthur-the-owl© Stephanie Boyles

A wildlife rehabilitator called PETA for help when this fluffy baby great horned owl, named Arthur, fell out of a hole in his nest in a tall tree. He wasn’t hurt, but he needed to be returned to his parents’ care as soon as possible. PETA asked an expert tree climber to help, and he was able to get Arthur back into his nest and repair it so he wouldn’t fall out again.

19. Sheena

A friendly mutt was taken to the North Utah Valley Animal Shelter (NUVAS) by her elderly guardian, who could no longer care for her. One day, when she called the shelter to see how Sheena was doing, she was horrified to find out that the dog had been sold to the University of Utah for use in a cruel experiment. So she called PETA and we were able to get Sheena out of the lab and into a loving, new, permanent home.

20. Sunder

Sunder the elephant had a very rough start in life. For years, he was mistreated by mean people and had to endure a lot of pain. However, unlike many abused animals, his story has a happy ending. He was rescued and now lives at the Bannerghatta Biological Park, where he can roam and play all day with lots of other elephants.

21. Jack


Jack and his friend Wally were both used in a cruel college starvation experiment, and when it was over, they were going to be killed. But a kind teaching assistant contacted PETA for help with finding homes for them, and a PETA staffer picked them up. He fell in love with the pair during the trip and decided to adopt them himself.

22. Cora


PETA volunteers found Cora the pup with a chain wrapped tightly around her neck, causing a painful wound. Her guardian agreed that she needed better care than he could give her, so he allowed PETA to take her to a veterinarian for emergency treatment. After her wounds healed, Cora was placed in a loving “forever home,” where she will never be chained again.

23. Rani and Shehenshah

Rani-and-Shehenshah-lions© Alan Abraham

The Empire Circus in India was forcing these two lions as well as eight others and 18 tigers to travel in cages barely larger than they were. But as a result of a lawsuit filed by PETA India, they were all rescued and taken to a sanctuary to live happily ever after.

24. Iris

Iris was kept all alone for a long time in a small, dark, windowless cell at Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo, a roadside zoo in Georgia. But PETA was able to arrange for her to be sent to the Save the Chimps sanctuary in Florida, where she made friends right away and is now enjoying the rest of her life.

25. Emmie


Construction workers found Emmie, a thin and sickly kitten, on a construction site. They brought her to PETA, where she was adopted by a staff member and is now living the good life.

26. These Pigs


A compassionate student rescued these adorable pigs from slaughter after they had spent months in tiny, uncomfortable crates as part of a college “swine production” class and were already on their way to the slaughterhouse. The student contacted The Cow Sanctuary, which called PETA, and we worked with the late TV director and producer Sam Simon to get the pigs off the truck and into a wonderful sanctuary.

27. Teller

Teller-Pigeon© Donna Mété and Dickse Fitzgerald

A PETA director found Teller the pigeon on a busy New York street. He couldn’t fly, so he was rushed to a wildlife rehabilitator for care. Later, he went to live in a home with a huge outdoor enclosure built by PETA supporters.

28. Holly

Police in Riverside, California, arrested a man after they found a little calf on the backseat of his car. Her ear tags, which are used to identify cows on dairy factory farms, had been ripped out. Police tried to find her owner, but PETA was determined to make sure that the baby cow wouldn’t end up at another dairy farm and took her instead to a sanctuary.

29. Nigel

Nigel the bunny was kept in a cramped, filthy plastic crate at a Georgia roadside zoo for a few miserable weeks until he was finally thrown into a cage with a python to be eaten. Luckily, the snake wasn’t hungry that day, and a PETA investigator was able to rescue him and take him to a veterinarian. Today, in his new home, Nigel is healthy, enjoys snacking on greens, and is loving life.

30. Bugsy


PETA volunteers found Bugsy hopping around in someone’s yard. He was thin, covered with ticks, and suffering from a potentially life-threatening illness. PETA gave him emergency veterinary care and found him a happy home.

31. Nola


Nola was one of the 32 dogs evacuated by PETA from New Orleans to our Virginia headquarters, the Sam Simon Center, after Hurricane Katrina. When rescuers found her, she was all by herself, terrified, in the middle of a flooded New Orleans highway. Her family was never found, so she was adopted by her PETA foster mom and lived happily ever after.

32. Little Winner (aka ‘Coming Home’)

When PETA’s investigator first spotted Coming Home, a horse used in racing, she was scared and huddled in the corner of a pen at a horse auction in Ohio. She had been sold to a slaughterhouse and was just hours away from being killed when the investigator stepped in and rescued her. Today, she lives on a big ranch in New Mexico, where, carefree, she runs around with other horses.

33. Peter and Jerry

Peter-and-Jerry-the-CowsLeft: © Kencredible | Right: © Rachel Cobb

Jerry was found limping around as best he could on deformed legs after escaping from a holding pen on a dairy factory farm. He was thin, covered with lice, and nearly blind as a result of pinkeye, a painful infection that’s common in factory farms because of the filthy conditions there. Peter was found two months later, lying in a dirty pen, too weak to stand or lift his head. PETA’s investigator bought both calves, and they found a new home at a sanctuary.

34. J.R.

After years in the circus, J.R. had grown too big and strong to be handled safely. Like other performing chimpanzees, he had “aged out” and needed to be placed somewhere else. So he was sent to a horrible North Carolina roadside zoo, where he spent 10 whole years all alone in a small cage, and then he was transferred to another roadside zoo.

Thanks to a kind PETA supporter who paid for him to be moved to the Save the Chimps sanctuary in Florida, J.R. finally got the wonderful life that he deserves.

35. Butchy Boy


PETA fieldworkers spotted Butchy Boy the goose alone in a small, muddy pen with only a filthy tub of water to bathe in. His elderly owner had been trying to care for him, but it was very difficult for her. She jumped at the chance to give him a better life and let PETA find him a wonderful home at a vegan farm with lots of space, clean water, and even a girlfriend!