Cat and dog owners alike adore their pets. And though it’s not always obvious from their behavior and body language, dogs and cats do love their owners back. Sometimes, our pets show extreme bravery to save us from danger or avert tragedy. Want to meet a cat who helped stop a man from committing suicide? How about a dog who fought off coyotes to save his owner? Or a cat who alerted his family to a deadly house fire?
Read on to meet some of the most heroic pets who have made the news for saving people’s lives.
20. The ‘Hero Cat’ who rescued a child from an attacking dog
Sometimes, an animal attacks a child. And every once in a while, another animal comes to the rescue. That’s exactly what happened when a heroic cat saved a child from a dog attack in Bakersfield, California. The dog, which belonged to a neighbor, dragged the boy off his bicycle with his teeth. But the attack was cut short by the family cat, affectionately identified by the media as “Hero Cat.” She threw herself at the dog and chased the canine away from the child, staving off further injuries. Roger Triantafilo, the father of 4-year-old Jeremy, explained the dog “did not know what hit him” when the cat sprang into action.
Next: This dog protected his owner from a horrible assault.
19. Apollo, a pit bull puppy who put a stop to an attempted rape
Many loyal pets have protected their owners against attacks from other people, too. For instance, a five-month-old pit bull puppy named Apollo courageously stopped an attempted rape. Apollo was out for a walk with Maya Fairweather, his owner’s 18-year-old girlfriend. Fairweather let Apollo off his leash in the park. But the puppy noticed when an attacker pinned Fairweather down and bit the man in the leg. “He’s a good boy. I think he saved my life,” Fairweather told the press of Apollo.
Next: This cat knew something wasn’t right.
18. Fidge and Ted, a kitten and a rescue dog who alerted their owners to cancerous tumors
Some animals save lives not by warding off an attacker, but by alerting their owners to a dangerous medical issue. A kitten named Fidge alerted her owner to her cancer by repeatedly jumping on her breast. Wendy Humphreys said the cat kept jumping at her right breast. The behavior prompted Humphreys to see her doctor, who found a pea-sized cancerous tumor. Humpreys said, of Fidge, “She saved my life, definitely. No hesitation at all. I was told that if I hadn’t been diagnosed when I was I could have died because of the hormones in the menopause. I am the first one in my family to have breast cancer. I am so glad I got her.”
And Fidge isn’t the only animal who’s warned a woman about a developing tumor. A rescue dog named Ted alerted his owner to an aggressive tumor in her breast, too. Owner Josie Conlon said the collie began to cry, nuzzle, and paw at her chest even though he was rarely affectionate with Conlon. She says, “I think a lot of people would probably just push a dog away if it started clawing at their chest, but dog owners should take notice, because Ted really did save my life.”
Next: The bond between cat and owner is a powerful thing.
17. An unnamed, heroic cat who helped police stop his owner from committing suicide
Another amazing story of a heroic pet? A cat helped San Francisco police coax a suicidal man off a ledge. The man, a suspected car thief, had become “distraught” and was hanging out of a third-floor window, threatening to jump. Police called hostage negotiators. After three hours, they hadn’t made much progress. But they brought backup in the form of the man’s orange tabby cat.
Appealing to the man’s love for the animal, police persuaded him to go back into the building, walk down the stairs, and surrender without incident. The officers even let the man see his cat before taking him to jail. Officer Albie Esparza told the press, “I don’t remember ever using a cat before, but it worked.” Esparza said he didn’t catch the cat’s name. But this unnamed feline was definitely a hero.
Next: Dogs really do have a sixth sense.
16. Dopey, a golden retriever who can predict his owner’s epileptic seizures
Seizures can be dangerous, so a Utah family is incredibly grateful that their golden retriever has learned to detect when his young owner is going to have one. Britton Voss has a rare form of epilepsy that causes seizures and developmental delays. His dog, named Dopey, alerts adults to the situation. Voss’s teacher told the media, “This is not just a dog. Dopey’s an angel.”
In addition to predicting dangerous seizures, Dopey can also fetch the boy’s medicine or even call 911. Plus, Dopey can predict Voss’s seizures hours in advance and has never given a false positive. Dopey can even alert the teacher in Voss’ Utah classroom when another student is going to start seizing. And when Voss has a seizure, Dopey licks his face until he “comes out” of it and cuddles up with him for a nap afterward. “Thank God for Dopey,” Voss’s teacher says. “It really truly is like having another member of the team.”
Next: Cats can detect trouble, too.
15. Pudding, Pippa, and Blake, cats who help their owners out during dangerous seizures
It’s not just dogs who can help their owners in the event of a seizure. An orange cat named Pudding famously roused his owner from a diabetic seizure, so she could call for help — just hours after she’d adopted the cat from the local animal shelter in Wisconsin. Amy Jung, Pudding’s owner, said of the seizure, “If something or someone hadn’t pulled me out of that, I wouldn’t be here.”
A British cat has repeatedly saved a diabetic girl’s life by alerting her parents when she’s about to have a hypoglycemic episode. They said of the cat, named Pippa, “she’s one in a million, definitely.” And a cat named Blake in Fort Worth, Texas, bites his owner’s toes whenever a seizure occurs at night in order to wake him up and prevent the seizures from turning deadly. Glen Schallman, Blake’s owner, is actually believed to be the oldest person living with his rare combination of brain conditions — thanks at least in part to Blake’s help.
Next: There’s nothing like a dog’s loyalty.
14. Kelsey, a golden retriever who got help when her owner fell and became paralyzed
Most of the time when you slip and fall, all you end up with are a few bumps and bruises. But a Michigan man, known only as Bob, can thank his lucky stars that his dog was around when he slipped in the snow and broke his neck. The dog, a golden retriever named Kelsey, stayed with her owner for 20 hours as Bob yelled for help.
Bob had just gone out to get some firewood as he was waiting to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. His closest neighbors are a quarter mile away. “By morning, my voice was gone and I couldn’t yell for help, but Kelsey didn’t stop barking,” Bob said. Kelsey kept barking and stayed with Bob to keep him warm in the snow. After Bob lost consciousness, Kelsey continued barking. A neighbor finally heard her and came to Bob’s rescue. “She was letting out this screeching howl that alerted my neighbor,” Bob explained. “He found me at 6:30 p.m. on New Year’s Day.”
Next: Sometimes, cats are the best alarm systems.
13. Two heroic cats who saved their families from house fires
Baby, a gray, white, and brown tabby cat, alerted a sleeping couple to a house fire in a Chicago suburb. Josh Ornberg and Letitia Kovalovsky were sleeping on a couch in the living room when Baby woke them, alarmed that a fire had broken out in the bedroom. The couple said that both they and the cat got out of the house safely.
And Baby isn’t the only cat who’s saved a family in a house fire. Another cat saved two people after a fire broke out in their San Mateo, California, home. The cat meowed and made noise to alert his family to the fire, which spread and ultimately caused $400,000 in damage to the home. San Mateo Fire Department Battalion Chief Joe Novelli characterized the unnamed cat as “the saving grace” for the family.
Next: Dogs can sense danger, too.
12. Capone, a dog who woke up his family when a fire broke out
Courageous dogs have managed to save their families from house fires, too. A dog named Capone, a mix of miniature pinscher, Chihuahua, and whippet, alerted a woman to a fire in her Des Moines, Iowa, home. That gave Angela Fullmer the time to evacuate her nine children before flames engulfed their home. Fullmer told press that Capone is “pretty special.” She added of the former stray, “I’m glad we found him on the highway. I believe it was supposed to happen.”
A service dog named Yolanda saved her blind owner when a fire broke out at their Philadelphia home. Yolanda even used a specialized device to call 911 and then pulled her owner out of the house. According to the Red Paw Emergency Relief Team, Yolanda was a “superhero” for saving her owner.
Next: These cats knew their owners where in trouble.
11. Gracie and Schnautzie, courageous cats who alerted their owners to carbon monoxide and gas leaks
Pets can help their owners get out not only in the case of a fire, but also in event of a carbon monoxide or gas leak. A cat woke her owners to alert them to a carbon monoxide leak at their home in Reedsburg, Wisconsin. Gracie pounded on her owners’ bedroom door to let them know that something was wrong. Annette Shanahan said of Gracie, “Without her obviously we wouldn’t be here.”
Another cat saved lives when he alerted his family to a carbon monoxide leak at their home in Holly Springs, North Carolina. The family had accidentally left a car running in the garage, and the cat started making noise to wake his owners, preventing the colorless and odorless gas from lethally poisoning them. And another cat, named Schnautzie, warned her owner of a gas leak that resulted from a broken pipe. Schnautzie’s owner, Trudy Guy, said that firefighters told her the house could have blown up due to the gas levels in the air.
Next: This dog saved dozens of people.
10. An unnamed but fearless dog who died to save a wedding party from a bomber
Most of us don’t pay close attention to our surroundings when we’re busy celebrating a friend’s wedding. But many dogs never stop looking out for their owners. A dog stopped a suicide bomber from entering a wedding party near Maiduguri, Nigeria. The dog saved dozens of people at the ceremony by thwarting the bomber’s plan. Sadly, both the dog and the suicide bomber died in the explosion after the attacker detonated her explosives. A source who lives in the area told the press, “guests are grateful that the dog sacrificed itself to save their lives.”
Next: This was one brave cat.
9. Jack, a fearless cat who chased a bear up a tree
Sometimes, our pets react to a threat in our environment, even if nobody was directly in harm’s way. And they’re often a lot more fearless than we are. A great example? A cat made headlines for chasing a bear up a tree to protect his family’s yard in West Milford, New Jersey. The 15-pound tabby cat, named Jack, hissed at the base of the tree and kept the bear aloft for about 15 minutes. Jack then ran the bear up another tree when it tried to escape. Jack’s owner eventually called him inside, allowing the bear to escape back into the woods. Jack’s owner, Donna Dickey, said that the cat “doesn’t want anybody in his yard.”
Next: This dog put his owner before himself.
8. Figo, a service dog who stepped in front of a bus to shield his blind owner
A service dog named Figo wanted to protect his blind owner from a bus when the driver didn’t see her start to cross the street. So the golden retriever made a quick decision and stepped in front of the mini school bus. Figo sustained a leg injury, including a cut that went down to the bone. And his owner, Audrey Stone, didn’t emerge from the incident completely unscathed. She sustained a fractured right elbow, three broken ribs, a fractured ankle, and a cut to her head.
But witnesses said the dog tried to take most of the hit for Stone. And he didn’t want to be separated from her once EMTs arrived. Police chief John Del Gardo told the press, “The dog took a lot of the blow. And he did not want to leave her side. He stood right with her. He was there to save her.”
Next: This amazing cat knew exactly what to do.
7. Tommy, a cat who called 911 when his owner was in trouble
People can’t always get to the phone to call 911 in the event of an emergency. But in some rare cases, a pet has stepped in and managed to call for help. A cat named Tommy reportedly managed to dial 911 to get help for his owner, Gary Rosheisen, who had fallen out his wheelchair at home in Columbus, Ohio. Rosheisen wasn’t wearing his medical alert necklace. And he couldn’t reach a cord above his pillow that would alert paramedics that he needed help.
Nonetheless, police received a 911 call from Rosheisen’s apartment. Nobody was on the line. But Tommy apparently hit the phone’s button to speed-dial 911.”I know it sounds kind of weird,” Officer Patrick Daugherty said. But Rosheisen is just grateful for his cat’s help. “He’s my hero,” Rosheisen said about Tommy.
Next: Dogs are fierce protectors.
6. Sako, a dog who fought off coyotes to protect his injured owner
Nobody wants to get stuck in the wilderness after a car crash. But the prospect might be a little less scary if you have a brave dog with you. A dog named Sako fearlessly fought off coyotes to protect his teenage owner after a car crash. The king shepherd accompanied the teenager, Joseph Phillips-Garcia, and the boy’s aunt, cousin, and friend on a fishing trip. On the drive home, their car went off the road and down a steep hill into a forest.
Only Phillips-Garcia and Sako survived the crash. Both were thrown from the vehicle. Phillips-Garcia sustained a compound fracture of his femur. But Sako kept him warm through the night, helped him get to a creek for water, and fought off coyotes to keep him safe. “He saved my son’s life,” the boy’s mother, Fawn Adolph, told the media.
Next: This cat certainly had a nurturing instinct.
5. Masha, a cat who prevented a baby from freezing to death
In some pretty unusual circumstances, a cuddly cat might be able to save your life. A long-haired tabby named Masha saved a baby from freezing to death in Russia. She climbed into the box that the baby was abandoned in and kept him warm. She also meowed to get the attention of passersby, who rushed the baby to a local hospital.
Masha is a “communal cat” who was looked after by a variety of local residents. And many of them spoiled her with her favorite foods after the incident. A hospital spokesperson said, “The baby had only been outside for a few hours and thanks to Masha … he was not damaged by the experience.”
Next: This dog was a real hero.
4. A courageous German Shepherd who died protecting his family from gunfire
Sometimes, a pet’s act of heroism can have a sad ending for the animal and the people who love him. That was the case when a German shepherd shielded his family from gunfire in an Atlanta road rage incident. Following an altercation on an Atlanta road, the driver followed the family to a nearby strip mall and opened fire. The dog jumped in front of one of the children and a woman in the car and died of gunshot wounds behind a nearby building.
Atlanta police Sergeant Gregory Lyon told the press,”They survived that only to find that their pet is now gone. It’s sad for the whole family, especially the day after Thanksgiving.”
Next: This compassionate dog wouldn’t give up.
3. Peanut, a dog who rescued a toddler from a ditch — and an unsafe home
A dog led her owners to a 3-year-old girl who was freezing in a ditch behind their Michigan home. Peanut, a rescue whose original owner was convicted of animal abuse, ran up and down the stairs, barking and begging her owners to let her out. The couple obliged, and the dog alerted the husband to the presence of a naked toddler curled up in a ball in the field behind the couple’s home.
They called the authorities, who found the child and another girl were living in an unsafe home, and removed the children from that environment. Peanut’s owners wrote in a note to the shelter where they adopted the dog, “Thanks to Peanut, a little girl’s life was saved today. She has been such a blessing to us, and now to others. Words cannot express how grateful we are that we have Peanut in our lives and how amazing she is.”
Next: This cat knew he had to act fast.
2. Bagheera, a cat who disappeared saving his family from a fire
One of the most tragic stories of a pet who saved his family’s lives, but couldn’t save himself in the process? The story of Bagheera the cat. The cat alerted his family to a fire in their home in Pineville, Louisiana. His owner, Patty Ruiz, woke up when the cat clawed at her. She dashed out the back door and smashed the windows of her mobile home to get her daughters out. Two of the three escaped out the window.
But Ruiz’s youngest daughter — as well as Bagheera — never emerged from the fire. However, his body was never found. So the family has expressed hope that he escaped and will eventually find his way back to them. As Ruiz told reporters, “We would have all died. It was thanks to that crazy cat that we made it out.”
Next: This dog was a heroic first responder.
1. Apollo, a dog who tenaciously searched for 9/11 survivors
One of the most heroic pets in recent memory? A German shepherd named Apollo, who was the first police canine to respond at ground zero on 9/11. Apollo, already 9 years old at the time, went into the rubble with officer Peter Davis to search for survivors. Apollo braved water, fire, red-hot metal, and jagged concrete to search for survivors. And when Davis eventually had to accept that they weren’t going to find anyone alive, he had to pull the dog from the debris. As the AKC reports, “Whoever coined the phrase ‘working like a dog’ must have known Apollo.”
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