Terrific tales from animal shelters across the country

Face of Pepperoni, a medium-hair calico cat
Looking for something to make you smile? These aww-inspiring stories from Best Friends Network Partners will warm the soul.
By Liz Finch

Best Friends’ goal is for all animal shelters across the country to reach no-kill by 2025. That means working with our shelter partners in a variety of ways, including support, training, and grants, plus celebrating and sharing their good news.

From dogs getting their 15 minutes in the limelight to communicating with a deaf cat, here’s a roundup of good news tales from five Best Friends Network Partners.

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Second time around

Once the beloved companion of a military veteran experiencing homelessness, Riley had to take care of himself after his person passed away. Life was tough until he landed at the City of Great Falls Animal Shelter in Montana, though he spent another year waiting for a home. When Riley was adopted at last, his new person happened to be a military veteran searching for a loyal sidekick. One of the shelter staff says, “When their eyes met, something magical happened. Riley placed his head under the man’s arm, as if whispering, ‘You’re the one.’” Riley’s adoption fee was covered by a Best Friends grant, and the two new best friends walked off into the (figurative) sunset together.

Pups in the spotlight

What does a theater company do when a play requires a canine actor? In Lake Jackson, Texas, the company contacted the local shelter for help. The SPCA of Brazoria County partnered with Brazosport Center Stages to find five dogs to fill a key role, with the hope that each would find a home after a turn in the spotlight. Each night of The Play That Goes Wrong, a different pup was featured. The dogs mingled with the cast, crew, and audience members before the show and lounged in the green room during scenes. By closing night, four of the five dogs had been adopted, including Scuba Steve. The mellow pup retired from his acting career to spend time chasing balls and being a couch potato.

Furry sign-language student

Sweet Ollie, a 5-year-old deaf cat, struggled to settle in after being rescued by Pets Bring Joy in Fairfax, Virginia. He was shut down and refusing to eat until he was moved into a foster home, where he quickly relaxed. A month later, a family arrived to adopt him, and they knew it was meant to be. Why? The mom is fluent in American Sign Language. Ollie now happily resides with a sibling pup and is working with his new mom on learning how to communicate with the family.

Hitting the perfect note

Mountain America Center staff in Snake River, Idaho, recently came up with an idea to make their rural community more appealing to touring bands. They partnered with Snake River Animal Shelter, which agreed to bring in adoptable pets for quality time with the visiting musicians. The Goo Goo Dolls and Fitz and The Tantrums were two of the first bands to enjoy the perk. Fitz and The Tantrums’ touring photographer, Ana Wigmore, requested a second visit with the pups and ended up adopting Chopin. “Seeing Chopin’s sweet face and experiencing his famous hugs again made her realize she couldn’t leave Idaho without him,” says shelter staff. Chopin (now named Potato) lives harmoniously with Ana in Los Angeles, while his buddy Mozart found a home two days later. No doubt Potato and Mozart and their families are making beautiful music together.

Felines on film

When University of South Florida film student and cat novice Mason Lange came across a litter of baby kittens in his yard, he turned to the experts at nearby Tampa Bay Strays (TBS) for guidance. TBS happily obliged, giving the kittens a clean bill of health and teaching Mason how to bottle-feed them. Luckily, their mom showed up four days later, and Mason reunited the family so she could finish raising them. By then, however, Mason was hooked. He had the mama cat spayed and put her back outside (which made her very happy), found a home for the boy kitten, and kept the two sisters. “We’re a family now,” says Mason, who made a short film about the experience. The topic: his character development as a cat dad.

This article was originally published in the January/February 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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