Sweet stories of people making a difference for animals

Cara and Matt smiling and holding Daisy and Gatsby their cats
From magic tricks for pups in shelters to a feline wedding surprise, these stories of kindness toward animals are sure to uplift and inspire.
By Mary Daly

Kindness is powerful, and even the smallest act to help an animal, the planet, or another person plants a seed for more good to come. That's why Best Friends' vision is a better world through kindness to animals. Every day, animal lovers are making a difference through their actions, and we're excited to share a few of their stories here.

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Lawn and cat care

Spencer of SB Mowing has millions of social media followers, thanks to his heartwarming videos of cleaning up overgrown lawns free of charge for people in need. One day on the job, Spencer got a little more than he bargained for when he found a cat with an injured leg. Edgar and Ivy’s Cat Sanctuary in Corpus Christi, Texas, answered his call for help and provided the cat with much-needed care. To thank the sanctuary, which was struggling and on the verge of closing, Spencer asked his followers for donations. In just days, nearly $200,000 was raised, and four trucks arrived with donated items — allowing the sanctuary to continue saving the lives of cats.

Orca’s best friend

Eba, a little terrier mix, was found wandering the streets, and her rescuer’s sister, Deborah Giles, ended up giving her a loving home. What Deborah didn’t expect was Eba joining her on the job, too. Deborah works for a nonprofit that’s helping to save endangered orca whales. It turns out Eba has a special knack for this work: She has been trained to pick up the scent of orca poop while out on a boat, which the researchers can then collect to study the whales’ health. Does Eba know she’s helping to save a species? Maybe not, but she loves her time out on the water with her friends.


New Jersey magician John Stessel is using his powers to find homes for dogs. John films himself performing magic tricks for his captive audience: pups in shelters. Their reactions to watching tricks, such as John magically making treats disappear, showcase the dogs’ individual personalities. (Don’t worry, the treats reappear in the end.) Then, the videos are posted on social media for potential adopters to see and fall in love with the pups. For John, it’s a rewarding way to bring joy to the dogs and help connect them with new families.

Touchdown for felines

After Buffalo Bills kicker Tyler Bass missed a crucial field goal and his team lost a game against the Kansas City Chiefs, he became the target of serious online bullying. But that negativity didn’t sit well with many people. In support of Tyler, his fans donated money in his name to Ten Lives Club, a cat rescue group in New York. Tyler had appeared in a campaign for the group to help homeless cats. And here’s the kicker: Taylor Swift fans got word of the bullying and also rallied to donate to Ten Lives Club, helping to raise over $250,000.

Canine retirement home

After his senior dog Wolfgang died, Steve Greig had a hard time coming to terms with the loss. So he decided to turn his grief into action. He went to a shelter with the goal of giving a dog a second chance at life and came home with the oldest dog there: a little pup named Eeyore who had multiple health issues. But Steve didn’t stop there. A few months later, he adopted another senior pup. And another. And another. In the years since Wolfgang’s passing, Steve has provided a home for dozens of senior dogs and dogs with special needs, usually caring for around nine at a time. Yes, there’s grief when one dies, but giving them their best golden years is what drives Steve to keep opening his home and his heart.

Catnap connoisseur

Terry Lauerman may be retired, but he still has a very important job: catnapper. As a volunteer for Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary in Wisconsin, Terry comes in almost every day to play with the cats and even curl up with them for a nap in a comfy chair. Cuddles with Terry help to ease the cats’ stress while they get quality snooze time. Safe Haven takes in many cats with special needs, and thanks to the attention that Terry’s catnaps have brought the organization, the staff has been able to find loving homes for the cats more easily.

Slam dunk of a reunion

Utah Jazz player Kelly Olynyk and his wife, Jackie, were in San Antonio, Texas, ahead of Kelly’s game when they noticed a dog wandering around a parking lot. But finding the dog’s person wasn’t exactly an easy layup. Kelly and Jackie had the pup scanned for a microchip ID and were happy to learn she had one, but no one responded initially when they reached out to the phone number and email address listed. And after driving to the home address, they learned that the dog’s person no longer lived there. So they decided to care for the dog in their hotel room while waiting for a response to their messages. Finally, they received a call from the dog’s person, who said the dog had gone missing four years ago. She still lived close by, and the two were reunited at last.

Here comes the cat

Forget wedding vows. At one couple’s ceremony, it was all about the wedding meows. Cara and Matt were in the middle of their vows at their outdoor wedding when laughter erupted from the wedding party. The reason for the laughter? A feline wedding crasher was meowing from nearby foliage. It was only fitting; Matt and Cara are huge cat lovers and even had cat-themed wedding cake toppers. The kitten disappeared before anyone in the wedding could coax her out, but later staff at the venue found her and took her to a nearby shelter. Cara and Matt knew there was only one thing to do: adopt their tabby wedding gift. Little Daisy fits right in with the family, which includes a feline brother named Gatsby.

Jackpot for homeless pets

When Massachusetts resident Paul Riley won a $4 million lottery prize, he brought his beloved dog Raven with him to pose for a photo with the ceremonial check — which was even bigger than the little black-and-tan pup. What does Paul plan to do with his windfall? For starters, he’s going to buy his wife a new car. Plus, as an animal lover, Paul plans to donate part of his winnings to a local animal rescue organization. We’re sure Raven will get some extra pampering, too.

Friend in a crisis

As a former EMT and current radio operator, Dinah knows what it means to step up in an emergency. And that’s just what she did when a man needed emergency medical care, leaving his dog alone at home. Emergency personnel brought the pup to the fire station, where Dinah took over her care until the dog’s person could recover. Dinah didn’t think twice about taking in the dog and making sure she was well fed and comfortable until she was reunited with her person. In fact, the experience was so meaningful to Dinah that she’s already planning to be available when the need arises again.

This article was originally published in the May/June 2024 issue of Best Friends magazine. Want more good news? Become a member and get stories like this six times a year.

Let's make every shelter and every community no-kill by 2025

Our goal at Best Friends is to support all animal shelters in the U.S. in reaching no-kill by 2025. No-kill means saving every dog and cat in a shelter who can be saved, accounting for community safety and good quality of life for pets. 

Shelter staff can’t do it alone. Saving animals in shelters is everyone’s responsibility, and it takes support and participation from the community. No-kill is possible when we work together thoughtfully, honestly, and collaboratively.

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