While Hollywood VIP Leonardo DiCaprio is looking out for lions, Armenian firefighters have other plans. After years of playing cat-and-mouse, the International Animal Rescue freed two captive bears used for entertainment at a Yerevan restaurant.
“Now the plight of these poor bears has come to light, I know IAR won’t turn its back on them. After years of misery and neglect, an end to the suffering can’t come soon enough.” [said patron Neil Morrissey.]
Bear buddies Dasha and Misha now reside in a mountain sanctuary (hopefully miles from their captors). According to the IAR, there are still some 80 captive and abused bears unaccounted for.
“Some have been living for years in small, barren cages, surviving only on scraps and filthy, stagnant water. Many bang their heads to relieve the boredom. It is heartbreaking. We are determined to bring it to an end.” [said IAR chief Alan Knight.]
While The Jungle Book may have us thinking bears are as friendly as the affectionate Baloo, they aren’t. Entertaining or not, these fascinating beasts belong only to one place — the wild.
I believe it’s in anyone’s nature to be kind — even when it means putting others first. Among our everyday heroes is Clayton Cook, who, on his wedding day, dove into a river to save a drowning boy. (It’s safe to say he was overdressed for the occasion) Alongside him is Kimberly Gager, who gave up her entire coupon collection to donate supplies to hurricane victims. And as if people hadn’t impressed me enough, Cullman resident Eric Gilbreath drove 2 hours out of town to rescue a missing child.
“Your heart just falls out on the floor. My first thought was helping getting out there and looking. I wasn’t going to give up,” Gilbreath explained.
The toddler, 3-year-old Serenity Dawn Sanders, shares a mother with Gilbreath’s son. Despite the presence of a search party, Gilbreath was the first to spot Serenity in the woods of Dekalb County.
“I just walked the ridge top, walked halfway down the ridge and walked the bottom of the ridge and went to the next one,” Gilbreath said.
Serenity was accompanied by her dog. Just as any father would, Gilbreath reminded the unfazed child not to wander without her mother. That’s at least 10 dad points to Gilbreath!
Without a doubt, dogs are resilient animals. Whether they have been lost for 9 months or trapped in a drain for 3 years, they will often persist. Now, dogs Zeus and Valentine may have set the record for surviving out at sea. Along with their humans Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava, the team remained on their damaged sailboat for nearly five months.
“When I saw the gray boat on the edge of the horizon, my heart leapt because I knew we were about to be saved,” [said Appel.] “Because I honestly believed we were going to die within the next 24 hours.”
On a trip from Hawaii to Tahiti, the pair encountered a storm, which flooded their engine and destroyed their mast. Communication lines also took a hit, and distress signals went unnoticed. Moreover, the four sustained two shark attacks. After 98 days, the US Navy came to their rescue.
“I’m grateful for their service to our country,” Appel said in a Navy statement. “They saved our lives. The pride and smiles we had when we saw [the US Navy] on the horizon was pure relief.”
Who says only cats have nine lives?
Since the day we are born, doctors continue to be our heroes throughout bouts of colds and fevers. On occasion, they will stand out, birthing babies (or sometimes gorillas) in the middle of their own deliveries. Santa Rosa doctor Scott Witt defied the odds when he hopped on a motorcycle to rescue eight preemies from a fire.
“I got a call at 2 a.m. basically saying that there was some fire encroaching on the hospital so so we might have to evacuate,” said Dr. Witt.
“In California, you can split lanes so I just kind of went down the middle of lanes and got past everybody,”
Four miles from the center and an additional six from Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Witt braved a number of treacherous highways. Witt and his family lost their home, but his wife could not have been prouder of his actions.
“If my baby was in the hospital… I mean I’m a little biased but I would totally want them to be in some hands like Scott’s,” said Megan Witt.
Witt also trailed ambulances for three hours on several trips justifying not only his courage, but that a BMW is a pretty sturdy bike.
Without words to express themselves, dogs rely on actions to demonstrate loyalty to their humans. A London dog rescued his entire family from a house fire and was awarded a PSDA Gold Medal. While there are no official honors for Nala the Boxer, she is still a hero to her family, whom she protected from a rattlesnake.
“She waited until we were safe. She stood her ground. She didn’t like whimper or anything when she got bit,” [said 10-year-old owner] Cole [Lewis.]
The perpetrating snake was a Mojave green, a highly poisonous reptile. Thanks to Lewis’ stepdad, the Boxer made it to the nearest veterinary clinic in time to fully recover. Nala’s skyrocketing medical bill did little to faze the family, who are eternally grateful for her sacrifice.
“She saved my life, and I just want to hang out with her now because she’s my hero,” Cole said.
Dogs and snakebites are nothing new, but it’s Fido’s continued heroism that never fails to warm my heart.
In times of emergency, who comes to our rescue is the last thing on our minds. Whether it be a herd of elephants or an 8-year-old kid, safety is all that matters. But sometimes, we are pleasantly surprised. What started out as a nightmare for this Scottish family turned into an adventure on the Hogwarts Express.
The family of six was spending a vacation camping in the Scottish Highlands. But on Friday, Jon Cluett woke up and walked out of his hut on Loch Eilt to find that their 16-foot red canoe had disappeared, probably washed away by the river.
Miles away from their car and with no other option, Cluett phoned the police. What the officer would reply was nothing short of astounding.
“The policeman said, ‘We’ve arranged for the next train passing to stop for you, and you’re not going to believe this but it’s the Hogwarts Express steam train. Your kids are going to love it,’”
Expectedly, the Cluett children did what any Potterhead would — flip out. If the Hogwarts Express is a go-to rescue vehicle along Fort William and Mallaig, GPS may no longer be a priority to casual hikers.
To a child, an adult may be an authority figure they just can’t win over. Perhaps the generation gap makes them feel misunderstood. Despite this, there are some grown-ups who’ve proven to be completely selfless. Among them is Marc Bell, a millionaire who recently opened his home to 70 orphaned children affected by Hurricane Irma. And, just recently, Earl Melchert, who donated a hefty $7,000 reward to the kidnapping victim he had rescued.
“I could make out her face, and I went, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the gal from Alexandria that’s been gone for 29 days,’” Mr. Melchert said. “It’d been on the news, it’d been online. It went national. It was on posters, in stores, her face, her picture. Right away I recognized her.”
The victim was 15-year-old Jasmine Block, who was abducted by a family friend. For a month, she remained in an abandoned home. Though Melchert received a $7,000 reward for phoning the police, he decided to pay it forward to Block’s family.
“What a retirement present,” he said, “to hand over some money to people that really need it.”
Melchert has since gained popularity on social media. Those gunning for the 65-year-old to run for president may be disappointed. The unlikely hero just retired, and it’s safe to say, rightfully so!
Though places like Vancouver are encouraging shelter rescues by banning the sale of puppy mill animals, many others have a long way to go. If an animal isn’t cute, chances are it’s not leaving its cage. Because of this, cat trainer Samantha Martin and her acrobatic felines are giving strays a second chance at life.
The Amazing Acro-Cats [are] a traveling troupe of house cats that ride skateboards, play musical instruments and sometimes get bored and wander off into the audience.
“The team [of cats] themselves are all former rescues and strays,”
Martin, who is an experienced feline foster mom, has no problem draining shelters of its resident kittens. Since starting the group, Martin has been savior to over 200 cats.
“We try to partner with a local rescue and donate a portion of the [show’s] proceeds,” she said. “Sometimes people just contact us. It can be very random.”
Martin often takes in kittens with behavioral problems, proving that aggression can, in fact, be trained away. However, she focuses only on positive reinforcement. If you’re lucky enough to see the Acro-Cats in action, perhaps consider taking a non-permanent purr-former home.
Some people may have big shoes to fill, but never leave out the chance to do good. In a courageous attempt to save endangered penguins, the Chilean government snubbed a billion-dollar mining project. On the other side of the world, policewoman Gretchen Byrne is transforming the Boca Raton station into an awesome kitten shelter.
“I will get three breaks: A 40-minute lunch break and two 10-minute breaks. Instead of going for pizza with my colleagues I use that time to run to the station and feed them,” she explained. “It all comes out of my paycheck at the end of the day but I don’t have kids so it is probably still cheaper than having kids.”
In just two years, Byrne has rescued 63 cats, knowing shelters would be too full to take them in. She uses Instagram as a platform to advertise her precious adoptables. Though her four-legged tenants can be rambunctious, Byrne claims they also help her to relax.
“The other thing is that is really nice to come home and have kittens to help me destress. I’m dealing with a lot of stuff on road patrol.”
If there is one thing we’re sure of, it’s that Byrne takes the notion of cat lady to a whole new level!
Dogs have been known to help people and fellow animals alike. From planting trees to assisting baby cheetahs, we can rest assured that they care about the world. After Hurricane Harvey, there is a particularly fascinating story involving our furry friends that caught my attention. Some surfing dogs are looking out for their own, raising funds for orphan pets.
The 12th annual surf competition for dogs raised $80,000 to help orphan pets at the Rancho Santa Fe-based Helen Woodward Animal Center, including more than 60 rescued dogs and cats from Hurricane Harvey.
The Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon lasted 6 hours and attracted over 5,000 guests. Dogs, separated into weight classes, surfed in 10-minute heats. To be honest, I’m not sure what I am more impressed with — the funds raised, the cause that the funds are supporting, or the fact that these dogs are practically amazing athletes.
The canine surf fest also included a costume contest for pooches to show off beach wear and freestyle surf competition, where points were awarded for creativity.
I am bummed to have missed such a lighthearted event. But more than that, I am also proud that our two-legged friends have been participating in relief efforts — and doing fantastic jobs at it! Truly, anything is paw-sible.