14 pet adoption stories to make you believe in love

Shadow the dog with Ryan and another person at Angel Canyon
See how much unconditional love and companionship adoptable pets have to offer.
By Best Friends staff

Valentine’s Day isn’t just about romance. It’s about love, which can take many forms. For a lot of people, pets provide unconditional love and companionship. And in some cases, that bond can offer a whole new outlook on life.

Best Friends Animal Society, a leading national animal welfare organization dedicated to saving the lives of all pets in shelters and taking America to no-kill in 2025, is sharing 14 stories with the hope of inspiring others to adopt a dog or cat in need. From Los Angeles to New York, here are some soulful stories guaranteed to make any animal lover swoon.

Family makes every day count for terminally ill dog

Rosita had spent some of her 12 years in an animal shelter before coming to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, where she received the loving care needed to heal her physical and emotional wounds. Even after being diagnosed with inoperable bladder cancer, Rosita’s charming personality and relentless tail wag caught the attention of a caregiver who knew where the senior gal really belonged.

Puppy runs straight into man’s heart

Nacho arrived at the Best Friends Lifesaving Center in New York City with tons of puppy energy. Ron, a seasoned marathon runner, was intrigued. After they went for a trial walk, Nacho happily ran alongside Ron and the deal was done! Now they go on daily runs together while Ron trains for his next race.

3-legged pup now a bomb-squad superhero

Sometimes an unexpected detour can be delightful. Just ask the Cunninghams, who found themselves heading to the Sanctuary after a wrong turn on their way to Arizona. There, they met a three-legged dog named Ruthie, whom they just couldn’t resist taking home. Chris Cunningham, who works for the Utah Air National Guard, saw something special in Ruthie, and boy was he right.

Adopter gets double the love after bringing home big dog duo

Yogi struggled with a panic disorder while Tank had a head tilt and fear of being touched. The two canines found comfort in each other at the Sanctuary, but finding a home for these two big dogs could have been a tremendous challenge if it weren’t for the kind heart and patient spirit of Nancy Alexander.

From sad to lucky, in more ways than one

Upon arriving at the Best Friends Pet Resource Center in Northwest Arkansas, Caesar the dog was not in a good place. The handsome, fluffy dog was seriously underweight and so scared that he would flatten himself to the ground if anyone came near. Thankfully for Caesar, a loving family took him home for fostering and just couldn’t part with him.

Orange cat charms a dog lover

After doing some thorough research on cats, dog lover Sara Woltz was open to adopting a feline. After many visits to the Best Friends Lifesaving Center in Salt Lake City, an adorable marmalade-colored male cat named Louis had just what it took to seal the deal.

A pack to call his own

Scruffy little La Bamba was a 10-year-old stray pup when he arrived at the lifesaving center in New York City, where it was soon discovered that he needed nine teeth pulled and an eye removed. La Bamba was a bit worse for wear but soon was spotted by a couple who have a mini pack of little senior dogs. He's now happily part of their small senior dog gang.

Homeless kitten becomes emotional support cat

Combat veteran Allen Burkhart already had a cat and dog in his family, but there was something unique about his new kitten, Eeyore. The frisky young feline, adopted from the pet resource center in Northwest Arkansas, became his special friend, not only helping Allen manage his PTSD symptoms but also accompanying him around town.

Family rescues senior sweetheart and she rescues them right back

Zoey found herself returned to the Best Friends Pet Adoption Center in Los Angeles at 10 years old, but that was just a stop in her journey. The Nieto family was able to overlook Zoey’s medical issues to see the value of having an older pet in their lives. Soon, Zoey became a calming influence for the Nieto children as well as the parents, who were experiencing challenges of their own.

Who says dogs and cats can’t be friends?

Alani the kitten had been through a lot before she came to the lifesaving center in Salt Lake City and then went to a foster home with her siblings. It was there she met Simon and quickly became smitten. The fact that Simon was a dog and she was a tiny kitten didn’t deter Alani one bit. After healing from an injury, Alani progressed from cuddling to playing with Simon. The two are now in a committed relationship.

Couple finds their pig a new BFF

After six years at the Sanctuary, Smokey, a shy pig, went home with a couple who needed a new bestie for their pig, Peter Porker. They didn’t want Peter to feel lonely, so they brought him to the Sanctuary, where he spent two weeks getting to know Smokey. The intro couldn’t have gone any better, and now they’re settled at home — two pigs in a pod.

How Poppy got her groove back

Poor Poppy arrived at a Utah shelter with a wounded leg from a bullet. Then, at the lifesaving center in Salt Lake City, she not only received the medical care needed to get physically healthy, but she also found emotional healing through a foster caregiver until just the right family came along.

Canine cancer survivor gives back to people

Jovie, a beautiful 8-year-old dog, came to the Sanctuary with cancer on her leg. Thankfully, Best Friends’ medical team was able to remove the tumor and save her leg. With a new spring in her step, Jovie charmed a volunteer into taking her home to Baltimore, where she cohabitates with a cat and is starting a new chapter as a potential therapy dog.

From puppy to senior, Shadow has been a blessing

Ryan wasn’t looking for a dog when he met his brother’s new puppy. But when there was just one puppy left in the litter at the Sanctuary, Ryan and his wife decided to bring him home and named him Shadow. And that’s just what Shadow is to Ryan — a devoted pal who stays by his side while he deals with health issues.

Right now, shelters and rescue groups across the country are at or over capacity due to fewer people adopting and instead going to breeders or pet stores. There’s an adoptable dog, cat, kitten, or puppy eager to make a love connection with you. Visit bestfriends.org to find a local shelter or rescue organization.

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.

Silhouette of two dogs, cat and kitten

You can help save homeless pets

You can help end the killing in shelters and save the lives of homeless pets when you foster, adopt, and advocate for the dogs and cats who need it most.

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