PETA’s Top Rescues of 2015

2015 was a big year for PETA’s lifesaving animal work. Here’s a look at some of the most inspiring animal rescues that took place this year:

1. Elderly Bears

Four elderly bears were freed from decades of hell. They were all living alone inside tiny cages at a defunct Pennsylvania roadside zoo. They once had ridden bicycles and performed other meaningless tricks, but that stopped when the roadside zoo closed its doors in 1995. The bears had not set foot outside the cages in at least 20 years. PETA found out that the man who owned the bears was planning to give them away, so we stepped in and helped them retire to the The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado.

2. Iris the Chimpanzee

A 32-year-old chimpanzee named Iris was being held all alone in a dark tiny, barren cell at a roadside zoo called Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo in Georgia. She often smeared her own feces on the walls of the cell and spent almost all her time huddled under a dirty blanket. But in March 2015, a generous PETA member helped us free her from this hellhole. Following negotiations, Iris was quickly sent on her way to the beautiful Save the Chimps sanctuary in Florida!

3. Rabbits From a Backyard Breeder

PETA discovered that a rabbit-breeding operation in Riverside County, California, was trying to sell off all its bunnies on the Internet. The breeders had been selling rabbits for fur, meat, and reptile food, and now they no longer wanted the business. The rabbits were living outside in filthy feces-filled cages. Sitting on the wire cage bottoms had caused sores and wounds to develop on their feet, flies were swarming around them, and one bunny was already lying dead inside a cage. PETA hopped to, working to get all the bunnies out of there, and our friends at the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA agreed to provide them with urgently needed veterinary care.

4. Big Boy

Big Boy was one of a group of 11 pigs whom PETA fieldworkers stumbled upon while delivering straw bedding and doghouses to vulnerable dogs in rural North Carolina. The pigs’ living conditions were appalling: Their dilapidated makeshift pen was filthy and so littered with discarded wood, tin roofing, and other junk that they had trouble walking around. Their accumulated waste was attracting biting flies, and the pigs had no water or shelter from the scorching sun.

A sanctuary in Maryland was able to accommodate most of the pigs—but Big Boy, being, well, big and a boy, was trickier to place. We recently located the perfect home for him—a sanctuary where he will be in the company of other big boys: The Pig Preserve in Jamestown, Tennessee.

5. Soupster

Soupster’s owners were expecting a baby, and in their view, that meant that their little Maltese had to go. Immediately. On Christmas Eve. When the tiny dog was dropped off at PETA’s office, she was suffering from matted fur, rotting teeth, mammary tumors, and an ear infection. She was diagnosed with kidney failure and predicted to have only three to six months to live. But fast-forward six months, and just look at her now!

6. Justice

PETA received an emergency call on a Friday night from a woman who had given Justice, a 7-month-old puppy, to a former neighbor months earlier. Two PETA fieldworkers set out right away on the two-hour drive to North Carolina, where they found Justice’s neck oozing blood and pus because his new owners had never loosened or changed his collar. They rushed him to a 24-hour veterinary clinic, where the collar was carefully removed and the wound cleaned, before placing him with a PETA foster family. He has since been adopted by a loving family in Washington, D.C.

7. Russell

When PETA’s fieldworkers first saw Russell, he could barely muster the strength to lift his head. The 17-pound terrier mix had been attacked by stray dogs after being left outside in his unfenced yard overnight. After repeated attacks, Russell’s owner surrendered him to PETA, unable to afford the veterinary care that he desperately needed. Following his recovery, PETA was able to find a forever family for him. Watch how ecstatic Russell is to meet his new siblings, even after being attacked by dogs repeatedly.

8. Cat Trapped in an Open Well

A cat had fallen into an open well and struggled to climb up the steep sides. Animal Rahat heard about his plight and rushed to the scene. After nearly an hour, the team was finally able to catch him using a net, and he was reunited with his guardian. Making a donation to PETA and its projects supporting Animal Rahat, an Indian nonprofit group, will aid the group in its efforts to help working animals retire and assist other animals in urgent need.

9. Holly

After police in Riverside, California, found a young calf in the backseat of a car in November 2014, PETA sprang into action to make sure that the calf, whom we affectionately named Holly, wasn’t sent to a dairy farm. Cows on dairy farms are repeatedly impregnated, their babies are taken away from them within days of being born, and they’re sent to slaughter when their milk production declines.

After PETA obtained custody of Holly, we worked with Farm Sanctuary to get her transferred to the group’s farm in Acton, California, where she stayed until she found her permanent home at Sanctuary One in Jacksonville, Oregon in 2015.

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If one of these rescues has inspired you to protect animals from cruelty and neglect in the new year, please make a special year-end gift to help animals today!

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind