What always restores my faith in humanity? When I see humans going out of their way—and sometimes even putting their own lives at risk—to help animals in need. Thanks to the heroic actions of these kindhearted individuals, the following creatures were saved from harm’s way in 2015. In case you missed these stories in the news last year, here are 12 of the most dramatic (and heartwarming) animal rescues from 2015:
1. Two dogs rescued from the rubble following a tornado
Two days after tornadoes devastated Texas right before Christmas, a family’s two dogs—a Golden Retriever and a Miniature Pinscher—were pulled from the rubble of their home, alive and miraculously without any broken bones.
2. Woman buys 100 dogs to save them from the dog meat festival
Every year in China, about 10,000 dogs are slaughtered for the annual dog meat festival, known as Yulin. This 65-year-old woman, an animal lover and shelter owner, was able to save $1,100 and drive 1,500 miles to buy 100 dogs, saving their lives and now giving them a second chance at life.
3. Dog rescued from icy waters
The U.S. Coast Guard saves lives—of both people and animals. Here’s the dramatic rescue of a dog that fell into icy waters in Michigan. The dog was later reported to be doing well while recovering at a local animal rescue.
4. Frozen kitten brought back to life
A family discovered a frozen kitten in the snow in their yard on Thanksgiving morning. They rushed into action—performing CPR and warming the kitten for over an hour.
5. 200-pound pig rescued from manhole
When the pig, named Rick Ross, fell into a 10-foot manhole, he was stuck for two days before firefighters were able to rescue him. Click here for dramatic video of the rescue.
6. Dramatic sheep rescue from a cliff in Wales
The rescuers from RSPCA, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, had to rappel down dangerous cliffs to bring the ewe to safety.
7. Donkey stuck in deep floodwaters surprises rescuers
When the donkey got stranded in floodwaters in Ireland, rescuers led by Animal Haven Animal Rescue were able to pull him to safety—and were rewarded with a huge smile!
8. Firefighters rescue kitten from storm drain
When Maren Swanson saw the amazing footage of a kitten rescued from a storm drain in Miami, she knew in her heart she just had to adopt the baby cat. So she flew to Miami to bring little Storm home. Here’s a heartwarming video of Storm’s long journey—from a storm drain in Miami to her new home in Los Angeles:
9. Horse pulled from well
When Daisy the horse got stuck in a deep well, a team of local rescuers, including a vet, spent more than two hours extricating her from the large hole in the ground. Luckily for Daisy, she escaped with no injuries. Click here for unbelievable video of the rescue.
10. Whale trapped in rope rescued
When a humpback whale became entangled in a lobster trap off the coast of California, a team of rescuers from SeaWorld hurried to save the creature, who would have died without help.
11. Dog rescued from fast-moving LA river
After the little brown dog was swept a mile downriver, a firefighter lowered from a cable attached to a helicopter rescued the little guy, who escaped without injury.
12. Motorcyclist stops traffic to save a kitten
You’ll sit on the edge of your seats watching this dramatic rescue! When a tiny kitten is seen running across lanes in the middle of a busy highway, this heroic woman on a motorcycle stops traffic and waves down cars until she can scoop up the little ball of fluff (which she named Skidmark) and take him to safety. (All caught on her GoPro.)
Those of us who love dogs and cats have experienced the many gifts to our lives they bring us. But what if farm animals, too, had many gifts to give, if only we would stop long enough to listen?
Have you ever gotten to know a pig, cow, chicken, sheep or goat? Chances are, your first introduction to some of these animal species was on your plate. We’ve built our human society around the idea that animals—in fact all parts of nature—are simply products to be used for human needs. It’s because of this kind of egoistic thinking that our planet is in such a mess with global warming, destruction of rainforests, wars and so on.
But what would happen if we could find a way to open our hearts to others in compassion? If we could learn how to do this, everything could change and the world could heal. I think as animal lovers, a great and easy start would be to transform the way we view farm animals. What if we could open our eyes and see them for who they really are and learn from their wisdom?
Here are three spiritual lessons I have learned from farm animals:
The Cow: Forgiveness When my daughter was a toddler, I’ll never forget the day we visited a pumpkin patch before Halloween. A cow was living in a paddock on the property, and my daughter immediately ran to the fence. The cow walked over and stood with her head down just low enough so that my daughter could pet her through the fence. How touching it was to see the joy on my daughter’s face and the recognition of this joy in the cow—how trusting and close she was with my daughter. As I wondered about this cow’s future, I wished in my heart that this kind of sweet connection between children and cows could be repeated over and over in this world. No matter what has gone before in the realm of human/cow relations in this world, there is hope for change and there is space for forgiveness.
The Sheep: Gentleness During one of my visits to Remus Memorial Horse Sanctuary in England, I had the good fortune to sit in meditation with the several of the sheep in their barn. They seemed fascinated with my practice and had all gathered near the fence, watching me as I sat and breathed peacefully. After several minutes, one of the older sheep came slowly out of the barn. Clearly, she had some difficulty walking and was very unbalanced on her feet. As she came forward to the fence to see me, all of the other sheep parted quietly and gently like the sea so that she could walk unimpeded through them to greet me. She moved so slowly, yet the other sheep happily gave her whatever time and space she needed to move freely. It was so beautiful to watch how they respected her and showed this with such gentleness. I thought to myself, if only humans could treat their elders in such a manner, society would be very different.
The Chicken: Focus I love visiting the chickens who live in the garden at my daughter’s school. Have you ever watched a chicken hunting for seeds, leaves, bugs—well, just about anything to eat? They are so focused that nothing gets past them. They can find the smallest seed, unearth the most hidden insect and gulp down a piece of lettuce faster than the human eye can follow! And as long as any seeds remain, they will keep working for them through scratching and pecking. It is so sweet to watch, and I think to myself, if only I could be as focused! In this day and age, we have become so distracted by so many gadgets and technology. We are always doing several things at once, and I think this takes away from our experience in the moment. Perhaps we can follow the example of the chicken and turn our focus toward finding ways to honor others and transform this world through compassionate action. I hope so.
Join me later this month in Pennsylvania at Chenoa Manor Farm Sanctuary for four days of learning life lessons from farm animal teachers. Hope to see you there!
I’d love to hear what you’ve learned about life from farm animals.
Tomorrow marks the Year of the Goat (also known as the Year of the Sheep or the Year of the Ram, depending on whom you ask)! What better way to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year than to prepare for my trip in May to the Chenoa Manor Farm Sanctuary in Pennsylvania? They have so many cute goats and sheep there! I’ll be teaching two classes and giving an evening talk and healing circle at Chenoa May 28-31; please join us if you can. (More details here.)
Chenoa Manor Farm Sanctuary does such wonderful work; I can’t wait to work with the animals. Here are some fun facts about this amazing nonprofit sanctuary:
ABOUT THE animals at Chenoa: Many of the animals at Chenoa have been rescued from factory farms and laboratories. Abused, neglected and some even readied for slaughter—the animals at Chenoa are lucky to have found their “forever home” and are free to live the rest of their lives in peace, dignity and safety.
BASED IN: Avondale, Pennsylvania
MEANING OF “Chenoa”: a Native American term that means “white dove”
WHAT’S SPECIAL about Chenoa: The holistic farm sanctuary encourages a plant-based lifestyle and works to end violence through humane education. And yes, this sanctuary is open to Reiki! It offers a youth program that pairs high school kids with animals and works to instill in teens compassion, a love of animals, patience and other qualities in the hopes that “those same qualities may be carried over to the teen’s relationships with other individuals.”
Some of the animals at Chenoa …
SIZE OF the sanctuary: 25 acres (some might say small, but their work is powerful!)
NUMBER OF animals at the sanctuary: More than 200 bunnies, sheep, goats, pigs, cows, chickens, horses, doves, turkeys and more. To help them, please donate here.
TRAVEL TIP: Visitors are welcomed! So if you find yourself in the area, please stop by Chenoa to see the animals, learn about its mission and meet some of the dedicated volunteers. Click here for more info on farm tours and private visits.
WORTH NOTING: Domestic animals are not accepted into the sanctuary.