San Bruno Pet Hospital 1111 El Camino Real
San Bruno, CA 94066
Phone: (650) 583-5039
Fax: (650) 763-8620

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Sat: 8a-5p
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Top 10 Pet Heroes for 2013

Service Dog Risks his Life to Save a Blind Man and Inspires Donations
By Jason Carr, Pet Health Network editor

A service dog named Orlando placed himself in mortal danger while trying to save the life of a blind man, reports Colleen Long of the Associated Press and Brian Williams of NBC News. Cecil Williams was on route to the dentist Tuesday morning when he passed out on the 125th Street platform. According to the associated press, Orlando is trained to protect Cecil from falling over the edge. “He tried to hold me up,” said Cecil after the ordeal. Witnesses confirmed that Orlando did what he could to keep Cecil from toppling over, but in the end Cecil tumbled onto the tracks. Mathew Martin, a witness, told the New York Post (reported by Edmund Demarche of Fox News), “he went down and the dog jumped down. [The dog] wasn’t pulled. He was kissing him, trying to get him to move.”  Orlando was on the tracks with Cecil as a train approached and rolled over both of them. Amazingly, both were spared serious injury.

Cecil wasn’t surprised by Orlando’s heroic act. “He saves my life on a daily basis,” he told the associated press.  Click here to watch the full video.

What makes this incredible story even better is the ending. As Christina Caron of NBC News reports, Orlando is set to retire in January, and Cecil’s insurance won’t pay for a non-working dog. Cecil can’t afford Orlando without help and would have had to say goodbye to his brave dog, had it not been for their experience on the 125th Street platform. After the story aired on NBC News, anonymous donations were made to Guiding Eyes for the Blind that will allow Cecil to keep Orlando forever. 

It’s excellent news that Cecil will get to keep his beloved dog; fortunately, Orlando  and many other service dogs like him are well taken care of after retirement. As reported by Edmund Demarche, had Cecil been unable to keep Orlando the dog would not have gone to a shelter. “Orlando’s future was never in question,” said Michelle Brier, the director of marketing for guiding eyes for the blind. “He was set to be adopted by the family who raised him when he was a puppy.”

Orlando is a prime example of the extraordinary efforts service dogs will go through to protect their people. Service dogs are specially trained to recognize and avoid danger and must be on high alert much of the time.

Of course, service dogs can’t help the blind all on their own. Nonprofit organizations, including Guiding Eyes for the Blind and Guide Dogs for the Blind are often responsible for training service dogs and getting them to those in need.

9. Police Dog Rescues 7 Year Old Girl from a Freezing Snow Hole
Tori Houle, PHN Contributor

On December 4th, a little girl was lost in freezing temperatures, reported Life With Dogs and The Siberian Times. Liza Grabovskaya of Siberia, was walking home from school when she mistakenly stepped into a snow-covered hole that was over 5 feet deep. After Liza’s parents weren’t able to find her, they called the police and began a search party which included the school’s staff and other parents.They searched in vain the first night in the below freezing temperatures.

Officer Vasily Samarin joined the search the following morning. He told The Siberian Times, “There were several groups, I was the head of one group, there was a trained dog in our group [Rising Star Britney].” The group also included Rising Star Britney’s trainer, Oksana Khabarovsk, and Liza’s grandmother.

As reported by The Siberian Times, the search group retraced Liza’s steps by walking her usual route home. Rising Star Britney alertly sniffed out the child. Samarin explains, “The dog discovered a hole in the ground, a sort of well, where we found the child. A hot water pipe was there.”

Liza was taken to hospital  where Alexander Firsov, deputy head of the children’s hospital reported that Liza was physically going to be okay but would remain in the hospital for a few days while being treated for hypothermia.

  It’s clear that Liza probably would not have survived had it not been for the efforts of Rising Star Britney. Police dogs are crucial under such circumstances. Much like their handlers these dogs are trained to serve, protect, and save lives.

8. Cat Survives a fall from the 11th Floor
Tori Houle, PHN Contributor

Perhaps the saying “Cats have 9 lives” should be amended to 11 after a cat, Wasabi, fell from an 11th floor apartment window. The story was reported by Jennifer Canfield of Juneau Empire. Stephanie Gustafson lives on the 11th floor of an apartment building in downtown Juneau, Alaska where her cat, Wasabi, followed a mosquito right out of the window.

According to Juneau Empire, Stephanie normally shuts her windows for safety but this one had been opened just enough to let the cat through. Gustafson’s mother witnessed the cat fall and rushed over to where she landed. She found her, “sitting in this corner [with] her eyes closed a little bit. Her paw was limp. She was really quiet. She wasn’t meowing in pain or anything.” Wasabi was curled up next to a metal box, bloody and soaked from rain, about 15 feet away from the building.

Juneau Empire further reports that Wasabi was taken to an emergency veterinarian clinic for X-rays where it was determined she needed surgery. She had a few broken bones in her elbow and a fractured radius. “She’s got about six weeks to heal. I’m going to have to keep her in a small area so she doesn’t play much,” commented Ms. Gustafson. “I’m just happy she’s alive. She’s like my little baby.” 

This miraculous story is a great reminder of how important it is to keep your windows screened when living with cats, or any pets. Feline High-Rise Syndrome should be taken very seriously; we love our pets and never want to come face to face with a situation such as this. Check out ASPCA’s article about high-rise syndrome to help keep your pets safe.

7. Hero Bunnies save a Family from Fire
Jason Carr, Pet Health Network editor

A family in Tucson is grateful to be alive after their bunnies saved them from a house fire, reports Barbara Grijalva of CBS5AZ News. Nicole Ochotorena, her husband Alex and their children (sources differ as to how many children were home at the time) had already gone to sleep when their Crock-pot’s® electrical cord caught fire. According to CBS 5, none of the fire alarms went off and the family would have kept on sleeping had it not been for the ruckus raised by rabbits Bun Bun and Promise. “If you’ve ever watched like Bambi— Thumper, how he thumped with his back paw? That’s what they kept doing. And Bun Bun and Promise, they were just back and forth, back and forth, back and forth,” said Nicole. Once she noticed the fire Nicole called her husband and the near tragedy was averted. The bunnies are getting their favorite treat this holiday – carrots!

This story is a prime example of the intelligence of pets. Bun Bun and Promise are remarkable animals who sensed the impending danger and roused the family. They deserve a hero’s praise this holiday season.

6. Feral Cat Saves a Helpless Kitten during Tornado
Jason Carr, Pet Health Network editor

As reported by bideawee.org, on May 20th a tornado tore through the town of Moore, Oklahoma leaving a trail of destruction and debris. While sifting through that rubble a rescue crew located what they thought to be a large cat. Rescuers brought the cat to the Central Oklahoma Humane Society in Oklahoma City, where he was to receive care from Sabrina Cantrell. “The cat was covered in dirt and debris and wood splinters,” says Cantrell on bideawee.org, “I thought the cat was injured, then I went to examine it and I saw a little head with two little beady eyes pop up covered in mud, and I realized the larger cat was clinging onto a kitten.”

As it would turn out the larger cat was a feral male.  Normally feral male cats would attack kittens, but amazingly this one had risked his life to save one. Not only that, but the two felines were practically inseparable once they arrived at the clinic. “I could not get the baby away from him,” says Cantrell on bideawee.org, “They were holding onto each other for dear life. It made me cry.”

According to bideawee both cats will be given to a good home. The feral cat has been pre-adopted as part of OK Humane’s Barn Buddies Program, which allows unsocial cat’s to live outdoors.

This story is especially touching because the hero is a male, feral cat who would normally have had little (if any) interest in the life of a kitten; nonetheless, during this time of great peril he wrapped himself around the helpless tyke and held on tight!

5. Courageous Dog Survives 9 Days Buried Under Tornado Wreckage
Tori Houle, PHN Contributor

On November 17th, a tornado crashed through Washington, IL destroying Jacob Montgomery’s third floor apartment, reported the The Associated Press on nypost.com. He found himself forcefully separated from his dog Dexter, a 6 month old pit bull. Montgomery, who is a military police officer with the Illinois Army National Guard has trained for emergency situations, but now he found himself the victim of a disaster for the first time.

After searching through the debris several times, 9 days passed with no sign of Dexter. A sigh of relief fell over Montgomery when he was sent a message through Facebook from a group called Rescuing Animals in Need:  “I’ve got your dog right here.” Dexter was partially buried in the wreckage where the apartment building used to stand but seemed in good shape, “As soon as Dexter saw me, his tail started going,” recalled Montgomery.

According to nypost.com, with the motivation of his owner and a few sniffs of some hot dogs Dexter wiggled to freedom and the two were finally reunited. The veterinarian said, Dexter was malnourished with a few cuts and scrapes but had no real injuries and was going to be fine. Montgomery expressed, “all I had in my apartment is gone, but my dog was all I really had to worry about.”

This story beautifully represents how important organizations such as Rescuing Animals in Need really are. You might be able to help out pets around your neighborhood or around the world by supporting organizations like this. Or you can fulfill that holiday spirit of giving by volunteering at your local shelter this holiday season.

4. Hero Dog Limps for Help to Save Her Unconscious Guardian
Jason Carr, Pet Health Network editor

It’s hard to say how long John Miles would have lain barely conscious on the street had it not been for his heroic dog. Dylan Stableford of Yahoo News reports that in late November both John and his dog Lucy were struck by a speeding car on Neponset Ave. in Dorchester, Massachusetts. What Lucy did next was simply amazing. According to WBZ-TV, in spite of Lucy’s serious injuries, she went to the closest office building she could find (a dentist’s office); she proceeded to bark outside of the door until help responded and then limped back to John.  Lucy stayed at John’s side until paramedics arrived.

Angell Animal Medical Center (where Lucy was taken for her injuries) released a press release about the incident, stating, “by the time the police and animal control officer arrived Lucy had braced herself against the nearly unconscious John, refusing to leave his side even as he was lifted into the ambulance.” Lucy’s presence then helped John again. Emergency services utilized Lucy’s ID tags to identify John after they arrived because he didn’t have his wallet on him.

Caitlin Miles, John’s daughter-in-law said in an interview with WBZ that after being separated from John Lucy was distraught. “After the accident when I was home with her she had tears pouring down her fur.” As for John, when he heard what Lucy had done he wasn’t surprised, “that’s the type of dog she is.” Both Lucy and John are expected to recover. A donation fund has been set up to assist with Lucy’s medical costs.

The loyalty of a dog like Lucy is inspiring. She thought little of her own injuries but only of her guardian, John. Her bravery and selflessness should serve as a reminder of what our pets are capable of.

3. Heroic Cat Saves Her Guardian from a Fire
Jason Carr, Pet Health Network editor

A brave and intelligent cat saved her guardian from a fire, reports Adam Aspinall of Mirror News. Tracie Horgan-Hodgkiss was asleep in her bedroom in Bridgend, South Whales when her two-year-old cat,  Taffy, woke her with a bite.  Tracie got up to find her bedroom filling with smoke.

According to Mirror News, after Tracie called the fire department she and Taffy were helped down a ladder to safety. Apparently Tracie had thought the fire alarm was actually her alarm clock and slept through the noise until Taffy roused her. “I don’t think I’d be here now but for her,” said Tracie. Firefighters arrived just in time to save the pair all thanks to the heroic feline.

The fire is thought to have been set intentionally and police in Bridgend have a suspect in custody.

Taffy was faced with grave danger and made a choice to save Tracie. Instinct might have told her to run or hide but she found the courage to warn her guardian and as a result both are alive and well today. Is it any wonder that people love and trust their cats?

2. Cats Saves Dog
Dr. Ruth MacPete, DVM

Yep, you heard it right. This hero isn’t a dog it’s a cat! This past April, ABC News in Toledo reported the story of how Sammy the cat saved dog-friend Izzy.

When Izzy, a small terrier mix, wandered outside her yard, she was attacked by a much bigger dog. The large dog had Izzy in its mouth when Sammy the cat arrived. Sammy puffed up and caught the attention of the aggressive larger dog. Luckily for Izzy, the large dog dropped her and decided to pursue Sammy instead. This allowed the family to grab Izzy who suffered multiple life threatening injuries. Izzy was taken to the Animal Emergency and Critical Care Clinic where Dr. Kittsen McCumber treated Izzy’s punctured abdomen, traumatic hernia, and severe muscle trauma. Of course, our cat hero Sammy got away by using feline super powers and climbing up a tree. If Sammy hadn’t arrived in time to rescue Izzy, she probably wouldn’t have made it. Sammy truly is a hero cat. Click here to watch the video report

1. Hero Cats Save a Dog and a Soldier
Dr. Ruth MacPete, DVM

I’ve also read about soldiers rescuing dogs or cats from war zones but here’s a story about a hero cat that rescues a soldier: According The Oregonian newspaper, Staff Sergeant Jesse Knott’s life was saved by the cat he had rescued.

While stationed in Hutal, Afghanistan in July of 2010, Staff Sgt. Knott came across a little kitten that kept coming to his camp with signs of neglect and possible abuse. Like many brave soldiers who come across injured or starving animals in war zones, Staff Sgt. Knott decided to rescue this kitten, who he named Koshka, which is Russian for cat. For the next several months, he fed and kept Koshka safe on base even though it was against regulations. In December of 2010, Koshka would return the favor and save Knott. After a suicide bombing killed two friends from his platoon and after dealing with a failing marriage at home, Knott fell into despair. Since he was supposed to be with the patrol that was hit by the suicide bomber, he struggled with survivor’s guilt. Overcome with anguish, Knott thought of ending his life; fortunately, Koshka wouldn’t let him do it. According to Oregonlive.com she jumped on his lap, pawed at his forehead and head butted Knott producing a low vibrating sound he had never heard before. Knott told reporters that it was Koshka’s actions that saved him that day and he realized he had to get Koshka out of Afghanistan. Thanks to Knott, an organization called the Afghan Stray Animal League, and a brave interpreter who risked his life transporting the cat to Kabul -- Koshka is now living with Knott's parents in Oregon.