Who rescued whom? Five stories of adopted pets that changed lives
All photos courtesy of Mutual Rescue.

A glimpse into the lives of five humans who were profoundly changed when they rescued a companion animal.

Everyone knows that adopting a shelter pet is good for the animal. What we often don’t think about is how life changing it can be for the adopter! Here are five stories from Mutual Rescue of how rescued pets helped people find their own second chances.

1. A “party animal” makes a change.

Working software by day and deejaying by night, Matt was living the life. But he was also overweight and unhealthy, depressed and exhausted, and partying way too much. All that changed when he rescued Samson, a neglected Golden Retriever who helped guide him into sobriety and weight loss. With Samson by his side, Matt is still living his best life but with a new outlook.

2. A little girl learns to connect with the world.

Born with autism, Jade struggled both in school and at home. Her family was desperate to find a way to help her. When a chance trip to the local animal shelter put her in the path of an elderly, chronically ill cat named Trubs, Jade formed a bond that changed her whole life and vastly improved her confidence and coping skills.

3. An athlete recovers from a staggering setback

During a competition, young athlete and dog foster parent Patrick suffered a sudden stroke that required months of healing. Shaken and housebound, he found a kindred spirit in Grace, a badly abused pitbull his family was fostering. Working together, dog and man helped each other heal. “I’ll never be the athlete I was,” says Patrick. “But Grace helped me find a new definition of strength. I feel we’re stronger than we ever were before.”

4. A young professional finds purpose.

After being laid off, Susannah struggled to find purpose while she looked for another job. When a friend sent her an ad looking for volunteers to take shelter dogs out on field trips, she figured it could help her get some exercise and fill some time. Instead, she found fulfillment, a comfort during hard times and a way to be an absolute hero – one dog at a time.

5. A veteran heals from trauma.

A tour in Baghdad left Josh with a traumatic brain injury and PTSD. Stateside and awaiting his discharge, everything felt hopeless. On a night Josh thought would be his last, a stray kitten showed up to offer him comfort and care. With Scout leading the way, Josh found a way to connect with others and rejoin a world that had felt so alien in the aftermath of war.

Studies show that pets improve the health of humans, and are an amazing source of stress relief and comfort. But sometimes the effect is even more profound. “Knowing that an animal deserves a second chance helps us realize we deserve a second chance, too,” says Mutual Rescue founder and author Carol Novello. For dozens more stories and a look at the science behind the human-animal bond, check out Carol’s book, “Mutual Rescue: How Adopting a Homeless Animal Can Save You, Too”.

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Finnegan Dowling has worked in shelters in Washington State, Colorado, California and Nicaragua. A graduate of The Evergreen State College, her writing has also been published in The Bark, Bay Woof, SFGate and Huffington Post.