Brittany Allen
May 18, 2014 7:43 am

Okay, okay, we’ve mentioned this before, but in light of recent events the message still sticks: sometimes a pet can be even more than a (wo)man’s best friend. And I’m not just talking about feisty fictional creations like Snoopy and Garfield. Throughout history, real live animals of all stripes and kingdoms have risked their own tails to save owners, amigos or strangers in trouble. From St. Bernard puppies to the beluga whale, it’s clear that many animals have an inclination to look out for their fellow species. Bummer that the same can’t always be said of us bipeds.

But in honor of certain recent feats of bravery and intelligence (see Paisley, below), let’s once again spotlight ten animal heroes who – in addition to being super adorable and worth a good Monday morning sob – have risked hair and hind for a human. Break out the tissues, people. And prepare to go pamper your own semi-disaffected house cat – she might be in a position to save you someday.

1. Paisley, the Fire Inspector. Paisley, a former stray cat, recently proved her allegiance to a new adoptive family by saving them from an apartment fire. Trudy Dooley was awakened by her pet’s “incessant nudging” in the night, and credits the kitty’s timeliness to the firefighter’s quick response. Way to purr through a crisis, P.

2. Jade, the Child Whisperer. While out walking one afternoon, a German Shepherd named Jade discovered an abandoned baby in a park. The dog pulled her owner’s attention towards a parcel in the bushes that he wouldn’t otherwise have seen. Nurses who recovered the baby even named her Jade, after her canine savior.

3. Lima, the Guardian Angel. Lima (a kitty who’s owners once described her as “reclusive” and “timid”) saved her owner from an unthinkable assault: when two rogue pit bulls attacked Cherry Woods outside her home, Lima jumped into the fray. The tiny cat’s hissing and scratching apparently frightened the two eighty pound dogs, sufficiently distracting them until Cherry could run for cover. Though both cat and owner endured a long path to recovery after the incident, Lima kept watch over her owner’s bedside.

4. Charlie, the Bird Cop. A few years ago in Arkansas, Jack Dukes’ pet macaw (yeah, you heard right) defended his owner from two men attempting to rob him. When the assailants started to beat on Dukes, Charlie maliciously bit at the pair until they flew the coop. The moral of this story is clearly: when in any kind of skirmish, PUT A BIRD ON IT.

5. Jambo, the Caretaker. When a young boy named Levan fell into the Silverback Gorilla enclosure at the Jersey Zoo (breaking several limbs and fracturing his skull), Jambo rushed to his aid. The gorilla calmed the boy with soothing gestures, and kept the other gorillas at bay when a rescue team moved in.

6. Toby, the Dog Doctor. Then two-year-old golden retriever Toby (who was rescued from a dumpster by his owner, Debbie) received the ASPCA’s Dog of the Year Award in 2007 for performing the Heimlich Maneuver on his owner. When Debbie began to choke on an apple, Toby jumped on his owner’s chest until her breathing pathways were clear.

7. Shana, the Escape Artist. Shana the rescued wolf dog is another award-winning canine. When her elderly owners Eve and Norman Fertig were trapped outdoors in a snowstorm, Shana burrowed a tunnel through a drift and dragged her human friends to safety. As a result, Shana is the recipient of the Citizens for Humane Animal Treatment Hero’s Award for bravery, an honor typically designated for humans.

8. Lulu, the Protector.  Lulu, a pot-bellied big, raised the alarm when her companion JoAnn Altsman suffered a heart attack in their home. Not only did the porker run amok raising the alarm, but she actually lay down in traffic until some samaritan was willing to follow her back to the house. Because of her celebrity, Lulu even enjoyed a personal friendship with the pigs of George Clooney. 

9. Jeff, the Snake TamerJeff the terrier saved his family from the threat of a dangerous Eastern Brown Snake in their vegetable garden. The hero pup killed the snake before it reached the family’s three young boys, but he took a blow in return; vets briefly thought Jeff wouldn’t recover from the venom-filled bite on his nose. But the little guy pulled through!

10. Katrina, the Superhero. Katrina the black labrador saved a drowning man during the horrific hurricane she was named for. After pulling a person to safety, this puppy went on to be yet another of our award-winning pups. The Humane Society’s Genesis Awards recently greeted Ms. K with a standing ovation.

(Images courtesy of Youtube, ShoreNewsToday, The Daily Star, WFAA, The Stir, MNN, BBC, Pet, Unsolved Mysteries, Pinterest, The Bark Post)