Like many 13-year-olds, Ashley Bogdan loves to be social. She hangs out with her girlfriends, meanders through her local mall and relishes taking a dip in the pool any chance she gets. But this California girl is not like most middle-schoolers in one respect: Ashley is diabetic and must test her blood-glucose levels multiple times a day to prevent them from becoming dangerously low.
In the summer of 2008, as the housing market collapsed and families found themselves dealing with banks foreclosing on their homes, Laura Pople heard that animal shelters were overwhelmed with the unwitting victims of the real estate crisis: pets.
"I thought, 'There's got to be someone doing something about foreclosure pets,'" Pople tells PEOPLE. "As an animal owner myself, the thought that I would have to give up my animals was devastating to me."
Mitch is a Steppe eagle that cannot fly. His brown wings, permanently injured, no longer soar through the air. Still, Mitch is about to head from Afghanistan to New York, thanks to the help of a few caring soldiers.
The bird will travel on a military flight with one of his rescuers, a U.S. Navy SEAL operator, as well as with Maj. Eileen Jenkins, the veterinarian who has cared for him in recent weeks. He will likely meet staff members from the office of Senator Charles Schumer, who were instrumental in coordinating the efforts to find him a home outside of Afghanistan, and then he will finally arrive at his new digs, the Berkshire Bird Paradise Sanctuary in Petersburgh, N.Y.
When Craig Grant first moved to a remote tree farm in 2003 to set up a sanctuary for cats, he was taking care of 11 felines. Now his Caboodle Ranch, located just 50 miles outside Tallahassee, Fla., is home to almost 500 of them.
Over the last seven years, Grant has taken in more than 660 unwanted cats from around the country. This past week alone he welcomed castoffs from Michigan, Ohio, New York and his home state of Florida. But while he continues to keep his ranch open for felines in need, that growing population does not come without its own set of challenges. Grant works 14-hour days, seven days a week; and he only recently gave himself two days off during Labor Day weekend – his first "vacation" in four years.
When Coweta County, Ga., firefighter Jim Cadenhead got a call on June 29, he didn't realize it would end up changing his life. Animal Control was dealing with a cat stuck in a 40-foot well, and Cadenhead had been deployed to help.
"We took the roof off of the well house and hooked up a little system to go down into the well," the La Grange, Ga., resident tells PEOPLEPets.com. "Then I grabbed the cat. It was very simple."
Ric O'Barry spent a decade of his life capturing and training dolphins that he would work with in the 1960s TV series Flipper. But he has spent the rest of his life trying to do exactly the opposite, and has for 40 years been fighting for dolphins' lives.
They say a dog is man's -- or woman's -- best friend. And never was this made more clear than early last Wednesday morning when Princess, a five-year-old pit bull/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, was stabbed multiple times as she tried to protect her owner from a violent boyfriend.
"I feel like she's my hero," Marie Wells, 31, of Southbridge, Mass., tells PEOPLEPets.com. "If she hadn't been there, I don't know what could have happened. [My boyfriend] snapped."
For her first two years, Gina was a typically happy German shepherd puppy. She loved going up to people with tail wagging and ears up. As she trained to be a bomb-sniffing dog, Gina enjoyed checking out new sites at her home on Peterson Air Force Base. But all that changed following her six-month tour of duty in Iraq from December 2008 to May of 2009.
He had eight beers and two 32-oz. margaritas before calling it a night and falling asleep. So when Jerry Douthett awoke an hour later to a pool of blood beneath his right foot, he thought it was a nightmare. "But when I got up and rinsed my foot off, you know what a shock it was?" says Jerry of the moment he discovered the top half of his big toe was missing. "I still can't believe it."
As Jerry, 48, yelled to his wife, "My toe is gone," the couple's 1-year-old Jack Russell terrier was following him, licking up the trail of blood, his face smeared with it. "Right then and there, I knew Kiko ate it," says wife Rosee, 40, a registered nurse. "It was so bizarre."
Yes, the dog ate Jerry's toe the night of July 24, but at the same time, the pooch most likely saved his life. For several months, a smelly infection festered in the swollen digit, but the Rockford, Mich., resident refused to see a doctor. Once at the hospital to repair the toe, he was told his blood sugar was an eye-popping 560 (the normal range is between 80 and 120) and that he had type 2 diabetes. His doctors said that with blood sugar at such a high level, Jerry could have died.
A regular morning romp through the yard turned into a nightmare for a young Chihuahua named Buster when he was suddenly attacked and taken by a wild coyote in the suburban town of Littleton, Colo. But thanks to two brave pit bull neighbors, the dog survived the frightening encounter and is on the road to a recovery.
Four-year-old Buster had just returned from his morning walk with mom Jodi Robinette on July 31, but wanted a little more play time outside. Having already checked the surroundings of her back yard, Robinette felt it safe to let Buster burn off some active energy while she kept an eye out from her living room couch. But not even 30 seconds later, Robinette was back on her feet.
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