2018 Story Contest Winners

Congratulations to the Winners of the 2018 Rescue Bank Story Contest!

With around 700 entries in the story, photo, and video categories, this year’s story contest was a difficult task for the Rescue Bank and GreaterGood.org judging team.

The stories of the harsh lives of abused, abandoned, injured, orphaned, and condemned cats and dogs (and an opossum!) were often heartbreaking. But all shared one common theme. They were saved and restored physically and mentally by one of the wonderful organizations that are Recipients of the Rescue Bank pet food program.

What came through so clearly from the stories was the huge amount of patience, persistence, resources, and love that these groups put into transforming the lives of these unfortunate animals for the better.

We would like to recognize and thank all the feral cat groups, rescues, shelters, and sanctuaries that participated in the contest for the wonderful work you do. The following are examples of that work and examples that often had us reaching for the tissues.


1st Place

Tina’s Bed and Biscuit Inc., Michigan


A Siberian Husky was found in a dump in Kentucky. She had recently given birth, but despite a thorough search, no puppies were found. Hope as she was named, had been shaved down to her skin, leaving only her tail and face left with fur. She was severely sunburned, and had a massive tumor on her shoulder. X-rays showed buckshot pellets in her abdomen, hips and chest, along with a screw. She had an ulcerated mammary gland and weighed only 36lb. When strong enough, Hope was flown to Michigan where Tina provided her with the love, good food, and continued medical care that gave her a second chance at life.

2nd Place

Purrfect Cat Rescue, Illinois


At the house of horrors, there were 42 cats and kittens. There was no one living at the house, but someone would stop by twice a week, open a 20-pound bag of food for the cats to eat, and leave. Litter boxes weren’t scooped; fresh air and sunlight weren’t available. The cats weren’t spayed or neutered, so they kept breeding. When the Purrfect Cat Rescue team arrived, little Princess lay almost lifeless, anemic, and flea ridden in a dirty litter box. After proper medical treatment, good food, and most importantly, LOVE, from her rescuers at Purrfect Cat Rescue, Princess made a full recovery! Princess now lives a great life indoors with her human mom and a kitty friend named Monkey. She has toys, treats, and anything else her heart desires!

3rd Place

Second City Canine Rescue, Illinois


Shelter life did not suit this guy. Number 81. He was in Chicago Animal Control and he was terrified. The noise, smells, and stress overwhelmed him. He couldn’t sleep. He wouldn’t accept comfort. He just couldn’t cope. Number 81 was malnourished, depressed, and completely shut down.

Then, the day after Thanksgiving, he got his lucky break when SCCR busted him out of the shelter. Life at his foster home was quieter, kinder, and more manageable for this sweet boy. Slowly, he came out of his shell and put some meat on his bones. Slowly, he learned to hope again. No longer Number 81: this is Ziggy Boy!

4th Place

San Luis Valley Animal Welfare Society, Colorado


Warning: Graphic Photo Below

Otto, an American Staffordshire Terrier had been abandoned in a rural area in southern Colorado. While starving, he tried to eat a porcupine. San Luis Valley Animal Welfare Society found him with a face full of porcupine quills. He had been unable to eat anything for weeks. Otto underwent four surgeries to remove the quills and now has limited vision in one eye because of his injuries.

After living at their no kill shelter for 2½ years and attending adoption fairs every Saturday, someone who had recently lost their rescue American Staffordshire Terrier mix to cancer, adopted Otto. It was love at first sight! Otto now has the best home as an only dog, parents to love him, and two teens to give him lots of attention.

Warning: Graphic Photo

5th Place

Love Everything About Dogs Rescue, Illinois

Mr. Winky

A small dog was picked up by animal control after he was found living in deplorable conditions with a family torn apart by drug addiction. When his owner was asked, they did not even know whether the dog was male or female. When Love Everything About Dogs Rescue saw a picture of this dog, they knew they had to rescue him. Although they did not know his real name, when they first saw him, he winked and became Mr. Winky.

Mr. Winky was broken inside and out. He was skin and bones, and where he did have fur, it was matted. He could not stand for more than a few minutes and was even too weak to get up for the bathroom. His teeth were rotten, he had thyroid issues, and suffered frequent seizures.

Luckily for Mr. Winky, the right organization undertook his rehab and care. After proper medication, care from his foster and veterinary staff, and a lot of love, Mr. Winky is now an enthusiastic, sweet, and happy dog. He barks like a little old man. He runs down the stairs with ease and can now go outside without being blown over by the wind. Mr. Winky was adopted and his new name is Winston! He loves to sport different jackets and bow ties around town!

1st Place

Operation PAW, Florida


Kuroo came to Operation PAW with a tiny suitcase containing the remnants of the only life he’d ever known. A motley assortment of well-loved toys, a tattered kitty-sized teepee, a fuzzy bed, and a soft-sided carrier that was too small, but still a beloved spot for napping and relaxing. Apparently, the carrier had been with him since he was first adopted as a kitten, and it was his one remaining safe place from his original home.

He was confused as he was handed over to his Foster Mom, and it was clear that he didn’t understand where his ‘real’ mom had gone. She was leaving the country permanently and circumstances didn’t allow her to take him. One of his foster siblings, Stealth, realized that Kuroo needed reassurance, and the two quickly began to interact and play.  Everyone needs a friend in their lowest hour.  We were grateful to be able to be that friend and offer him a safe place to call home until we can find him a new family to love.

2nd Place

HOPE Spay Neuter Clinic, Kentucky


A few years ago, I received a phone call from a lady who cares for a feral cat colony. She had found a tame kitten at her colony that was severely injured. When they arrived, I realized immediately that we needed to take him to the vet as he had a cutebra larvae in his eye socket. The poor kitten also had an old injury at his L5 vertebrae. The vet assured me he was in no pain, thank goodness. As for his eye, the vet said the eyeball should come back into place eventually.

I named this little man Raylan after the character on the TV show, Justified.  Just like his namesake, he was handsome and rugged.  Raylan underwent a year of physical therapy, but never regained use of his legs. Raylan didn’t let his disability affect him; he played like any other cat.  His favorite place to visit was PetSmart. We’d set him down and he would boot scoot to the fish section.

One night, the biggest part of Raylan-his heart-was failing.  I watched as my husband hugged him to his chest and sobbed. We held Raylan as he took his last breath, watching as he took a piece of our heart with him. Raylan was an ambassador for special need animals, and black cats everywhere.  My little man put his heart and soul into everything.

3rd Place

Operation PAW, Florida


It’s been a while since my kitten days, but I still remember the night I was rescued. Up ’til then, life had been pretty rough in the ‘hood. And by ‘hood I mean the parking lot of the Winn Dixie where my Mom cat had me and tried to keep me safe. It was tough for us. Dad was long-gone, and it was just her to provide for us. There were cars and people all day long, so we had to stay hidden and only come out late at night when it was quiet. We hunted at night what we could. Food was scarce, and we survived on garbage scraps and the occasional catch.

That night I was waiting for my Mom, but she didn’t come. I was a little bigger and braver, and I got impatient. When I saw the nice lady, I thought maybe she would help me find my Momma. I went around her and asked for help. She told me to wait while she went in to get some cat food. She seemed nice, so I sat down to wait. That’s when all heck broke loose and a couple of dogzillas appeared from nowhere!

I was so scared of the dogs, I ran up the nearest tree and hid. They wouldn’t go away, and they were still circling the base of the tree barking at me when that lady came back. I cried out for help and she shooed them away from the tree. She was calm and composed, and she convinced me to come out of my hiding place. I scrambled down the tree into her waiting hands. I was terrified to trust her, but honestly, I figured that between her and the huge dogs, she was the safer bet.

My life completely changed that night.  I’ve never had to scavenge for food again. I was spayed and vaccinated, so I’d never end up with unwanted kittens or a bad illness.  Now I can hang out with the other kitties in my foster home. Naps and belly rubs are on my agenda now.  No more scary dogs, big cars, and humans that might be mean to me.

Third Place

Cape Kitty Rescue, Texas

Roady Mae

To the other drivers speeding by it looked like a dirty rag.  One man recognized that it was a kitten, lying curled up and very still in the middle of the opposite lane of the busy rural highway.  He quickly turned his SUV crossways to block on-coming traffic.  The kitten was alive but had a bloody nose. It was so small he could hold it in one hand. He put it on the seat beside him and turned back to his subdivision where he knew there was an animal rescue.  He left it at the gate with instructions to call Cape Kitty Rescue.

The kitten was a beautiful little Siamese, probably not weaned, but old enough to learn. Her foster mom assessed blood from a scratch but saw no apparent injuries. She was first fed formula from her mom’s hand, but within 2 days, she had graduated to gobbling kitten food from her small dish. Roady never slowed down.  Her nickname quickly became “the princess”.  An experienced adopter immediately stepped forward and she was “promised”.   The message that was not delivered with the kitten was that her rescuer (also an experienced adopter) wanted her.   He was understanding that she had been promised a home, but said if anything happened, he wanted her.

When the first adopter withdrew, the rescuer was notified.  He was delighted, and felt it was meant to be.  Her rescuer also has a dog and two five-year old cats.  He felt an immediate connection with Roady and was even delighted with her name – adding Mae to it.  To make sure it was going to be a fit, he brought his dog over for a visit.  The bond was immediate and Roady Mae went to her forever home.  His dog was delighted of course, but it took longer for the two cats. She has grown into an elegant Siamese kitten who has wrapped the whole household around her little paw.

Fourth Place

Operation PAW, Florida


Life for an unneutered male cat on the street is a constant struggle for food and fighting for mates. Tibet’s life before his rescue was no different.  His days were frequently spent locked in battle, and sadly, his body bore the scars of that combat.  Who knows how long he had struggled to maintain his territory in the neighborhood before concerned residents noticed Tibet had a huge gaping wound on his neck and was in a very poor condition.  This stunning Siamese mix had seen better days, and without help he was not going to survive.

We got an SOS call on behalf of Tibet. Luckily, we trapped him and took him for the medical attention he so desperately needed.  It was sad to find out this stunning kitty had contracted FIV during his prolonged time on the streets, but our Vet was optimistic that Tibet would be fine once his wound was tended.  The medical care and healing was long and time-consuming. It took months for the large wound to heal completely.  It was so bad, Tibet required a special type of skin graft usually reserved for burn victims!

Tibet’s neck wound and FIV weren’t his only medical struggles. While recovering, he was diagnosed with bilateral entropion.  Both of his eyelids were rolling to the inside, causing his lashes to scrape against his eye with each movement.  It must have been excruciating for him, and eventually it would have caused blindness.  He underwent corrective surgery by Animal Eye Guys and has now fully healed, leaving only an endearing, slightly cross-eyed appearance to his handsome face.

After all this effort to get Tibet healthy, we wouldn’t dream of putting him back outside to resume his former life of scavenging.  He’s now a beloved indoor kitty and thriving.  We think he knows how lucky he is and is very appreciative!

Honorable Mention

Islands Feral Cat Project, Georgia

Charlie and Friends

Charlie and friends were in a desolate area, and subject to be trapped and euthanized. The area was full of downed trees and debris from Hurricane Matthew. There was no one feeding them; they had no water. One cat was injured, with a large gash on the side of his head. When we learned of their plight, our group set about finding a suitable place where they could be taken out of harm’s way. We provided food daily that we received from Rescue Bank, treated their injuries, and altered them.

Charlie and friends were released after five weeks in an enclosure we built for them. We erected feeding stations and positioned donated dog houses for use during inclement weather. With a steady diet of Rescue Bank food, the cats flourished and began to trust their caretakers. They recognize the feeders’ cars and their voices.  They have trees to climb and a wooded area to roam. Now, they are happy cats.

Last year, we altered 452 cats, and found homes for over 100 of those. The food that we receive from Rescue Bank is a lifesaver for our many caretakers. Some of our caretakers are low-income and really appreciate the help. Islands Feral Cat Project alters cats for low-income and indigenous persons in our area at no cost. Food is given to those who contact us and ask for help. We expect to alter 500 or more cats by the end of 2018. We are thankful to have help from Rescue Bank in our area.

1st Place

Animal House Shelter, Illinois


Queen was living with a neglectful couple who barely paid attention to her or her puppies. One night, during a domestic dispute, the girlfriend hit, kicked, and slammed all of Queen’s puppies on the ground. Three of the puppies were killed instantly and two others had to be euthanized for seizures and skull damage. Queen and her one baby were the only survivors.

After being confiscated from their home by animal control, we took this family into our care. Their foster family soon fell in love with the momma and baby and decided they couldn’t let them go. They adopted both so that they could stay together in their forever home!

2nd Place

Pets and Vets USA, Illinois

Captain America

At 8 months old, Captain was shot and left for dead. He had been used as a bait dog, and when he no longer served his purpose, they tried to kill him.

Pets and Vets USA rescued Captain from the streets of Illinois and trained him as a service dog to support disabled veterans. Now Captain America’s life is valued, and he melts everyone’s hearts. He even has some celebrity followers! Captain has changed the opinion of what people think about pit bulls.  As Captain’s life was once saved, he will save another – the life of an American military hero.  A complete circle of Humanity.  We Save the Dog; Dog Saves the Vet.

2nd Place

Animal House Shelter, Illinois


Poor, sweet Mike had been brought to Animal House Shelter after he had been kicked so savagely his femur had broken into two. He was rushed to the veterinarian, but after suffering such severe damage, there was no choice but to amputate his leg.

Mike returned to the shelter and was isolated in a cage while a foster was urgently sought. As our staff member opened Mike’s cage and scratched lightly under his chin, his purr echoed in the room and he looked up hopefully into her eyes. She couldn’t believe it. After all that he had been through, he still trusted people completely. Over the next 3 months, Mike learned to walk again and enjoyed his time being part of a family-something Mike had probably never experienced before.

Mike was adopted by a family who had taken in numerous special needs pets. Saying goodbye to him was bittersweet. His foster family knew that they would miss him, but also that they had given him a second chance. This inspired them to continue fostering and they have since fostered 44 animals for the shelter. Each animal could be rescued because they were there to help.

Third Place

Town Cats of Morgan Hill, California


At six months old, Max’s caretaker surrendered him to the San Jose municipal shelter to be euthanized.  He had severe eye infections and the owner could not afford the treatment and did not think Max would survive. San Jose did not euthanize him. Instead, they performed the necessary surgery to remove both eyes and give him a real shot at life.

Town Cats of Morgan Hill rescued him from San Jose.  At their shelter, he settled in, and became a favorite among staff, visitors, and their social media followers!  In fact, it was one of their social media followers that fell in love with him and adopted him in December 2017.

Fourth Place

Jelly’s Place, California


Jack was a Siamese-tabby mix kitten that was raised by a homeless man who carried him around in his back pack. One day in a drunken fit, the man hit him and damaged his eye. Once he realized that this sweet kitty was hurt, he turned him in to Jelly’s Place.

Jack promptly received the veterinary care he needed and was put up for adoption. Jack was such a sweet, mellow kitten that he quickly attracted the nicest family with two young boys who adopted him and adore him.

Fourth Place

We are Grateful Sanctuary (WAGS), Missouri


For the first three years of her life, Ginger never had a name. She was a number or a dollar sign to a mobile puppy mill owner. Ginger didn’t know when or where her next meal would come from, or if there would even be one. She spent her whole life in a cage having babies, for someone’s profit.

An unsuspecting person purchased her and gave her a name, “Ginger”. She soon realized she had bought a dog which wasn’t the dream dog she hoped for and asked WAGS to assist in Ginger’s rehabilitation and care. In the care of WAG, Ginger is learning what life is about. She didn’t have a voice for years in a filthy kennel, but now WAGS is her voice!

1st Place

Stonecliffe Animal Rescue, California


At four weeks old, Bella and her five litter mates were brought to the Fresno Animal Control by a backyard breeder to be euthanized because they were so sick with coccidiosis. The co-founder of Stonecliffe Animal Rescue happened to be there and overheard the fate of the puppies. She took them to give them a chance at survival and placed them with me, their foster mom.

The first few nights were touch and go. Bella and her brothers and sisters were so sick that they were given medications and fluids every four hours. Unfortunately, one of her brothers succumbed to the disease. After two weeks of intensive care, Bella and her littermates began to recover and thrive.

When the litter was old enough for adoption, I was so smitten with Bella that I decided to adopt her myself. For the next two years, Bella grew up surrounded by my grandchildren and it was obvious that she loved her little people. She followed them everywhere and watched out for them like she were their sentry.

One day, a friend told me about a family whose son had been diagnosed with autism and they were looking for a therapy dog. Knowing how wonderful Bella was with children, she asked me if I would consider placing her with this family. Only after I spoke to the family did I finally consider letting Bella go. It was a difficult decision for me as I loved this girl, but I also knew she had a gift and a purpose.

Bella is now four years old and doing an amazing job with Owen, the little boy that needed her most. Severely autistic, Bella brings comfort and calm to Owen’s life. His parents also take comfort in Bella. She is always available to them for cuddles and lives for face rubs!

2nd Place

Justin Bartlett Animal Rescue, Florida


Auggie and his siblings were still nursing when they and their mom were dropped off at a kill shelter. However, this is not the story of how we rescued Auggie, but how his rescue changed the life of someone else.

Auggie was adopted by a survivor of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas shootings. To bring their daughter some comfort after the traumatic event in her life, her parents agreed to adopt a dog. They wanted a small dog, but when they met 60 lb Auggie, he made this special young lady feel safe. Her family knew it was fate when they discovered that Auggie shared the same birthday as this brave survivor.

It was an honor to interview this family for our video.  This young lady’s mom told us that this was the first time her daughter has spoken about the shooting. It was a weight lifted off her shoulders and it was all because of Auggie. Sometimes, people and dogs can heal each other.

Watch the incredible story of healing at:  https://drive.google.com/open? id=1Yxe_ t2zohLlb1lryHK6vBnlDvfFghlG-

2nd Place

Compassionate Animal Rescue Efforts (C.A.R.E), Oklahoma


I met Whiskey under the saddest of circumstances. As a senior dog who had been raised from a puppy by a man named Seth, Whiskey should have been able to live out the rest of his life with his human “dad”. But circumstances wouldn’t allow this to be Whiskey’s fate. At only 32 years old, Seth was dying of terminal liver failure.

CARE Rescue, OK received a plea from Seth’s mom with only a few days to find a placement for Whiskey. Seth’s health had deteriorated to the point that he needed to move in with her and the landlord would not allow dogs.

I fostered this sad and confused 90-pound Rottweiler. He slept by the front door for the first two days, waiting for his dad to return for him. Sadly, I knew Seth wasn’t coming back. I tried to comfort the gentle giant by offering toys and treats, but Whiskey just lay at the door. On the third night, I called for Whisky and he jumped up on bed and slept peacefully with me.

I’m pleased to say Seth and I became friends, and with our new friendship, Whiskey was able to visit his dad several times before Seth’s passing in June 2018. Whiskey was always happy to see his dad but wasn’t sad when the visits were over. I believe Whiskey knows he is home and I’m blessed to have adopted him. Today, Whiskey is a smiling happy fellow who enjoys car rides with his rescue canine brother, Winston and he still sleeps next to me every night.

Third Place

Kitty City Kansas, Kansas


Luey is a very special, former bottle kitten who was born with Cerebellar Hyperplasia (CH) which means he is very wobbly and floppy when he walks. He doesn’t think anything is wrong with him. He may fall, but he gets back up and continues along as if nothing has happened. His food and water bowls must be heavy and on the floor. His litter box must also be heavy, large, and low for him to get in. CH does not get worse with age and may get slightly better. CH cats live a normal healthy life. He cannot get up or down the stairs, but he does try at times to climb onto the couch. Mostly, he needs a level area to run and play.

Luey was adopted by a very special family. His new best friend is Jillian and she explained in a letter why she so wanted to adopt him. You see, Jillian and Luey share very similar conditions as she “wobbles” as well.  Her family took the time to prepare their home so that Luey would have a safe environment to live a healthy, happy life. Luey loves to play and snuggle! He loves to be held and carried around. He purrs and purrs when you pet and hold him. He is one very happy cat!

Fourth Place

St. Louis Pet Rescue, Missouri

Ellie Grace and her Kittens

Ellie Grace was taken by her owner for a spay surgery and assured the veterinarian that her babies were weaned.  Upon returning Ellie Grace to her owner the next day, they were horrified to find five starving, six-week-old babies weighing only 6 to 12 ounces!

It turned out, the owner was denying Ellie Grace access to her babies because, according to him, she would pee on the floor. This was understandable, since he did not provide her with a litter box. The owner was feeding the babies hamburgers and cheerios. Ellie Grace was so malnourished, weighing only 5 pounds that she had tried eating cooking oil and had the oil all throughout her fur.

St. Louis Pet Rescue took in this family of cats the day after learning of their horrid living conditions. The babies were placed in an enclosed area with heating pads to keep them warm, and the entire family was given calorie-rich wet and dry food. Many of the kittens were also bottle fed in addition to letting them nurse frequently on Ellie Grace.  Sadly, the 6 oz kitten called Petri, passed within 24 hours. The remaining four kittens and Ellie Grace slowly put on weight.

When the kittens were weaned and weighed enough, they were spayed/neutered, microchipped, and vetted.  The four were adopted in pairs, because we strongly feel that siblings should stay together. Ellie Grace was taken to an adoption event at Petco and went to her forever home a few days later.

1st Place

Dragon Dream Team Rescue, Tennessee


Hello everyone, it’s Rocket.

If you’re reading this, it’s because I asked Mom to do this because I wanted to say goodbye. I went to Rainbow Bridge at 9:42 this morning, but please don’t be sad. I went in loving arms and my brother Ben by my side. My body just couldn’t take any more and mom kept her promise and didn’t let me suffer.

I wanted her to let you know how much I appreciated what everyone did for me. I want to thank Miss Laura and Dragon Dream Team Rescue for saving me from that horrible place I was in and getting me into my hospice foster home which then became my permanent home. And of course, my mom and dad and my two sisters and brother – I will miss them. And, I will sure miss mom’s oatmeal applesauce cookies. They were the best and she always made me an extra big one. If I had to spend my life with anybody I’m so glad they took me because they made my last days here very happy. Even though mom cried so hard she stayed with me the whole time and held me, and her voice was the last thing I heard.

I hear Rainbow Bridge is a beautiful place and all the other dogs will be there to greet me and give me the lay of the land. I understand biscuits are plentiful, and I won’t hurt any more, and everything will be just as if I were a young pup again. I’ll just miss my family and all of you that took such good care of me. Be good. Continue the good fight taking care of us dogs on Earth and know that I love you all from the bottom of my heart.

Rocket x

2nd Place

Save A Pet, Atlanta


Meeka spent the first seven years of her life in a shelter. She had never known a traditional home-life outside her kennel. Workers at the shelter referred to her as being “institutionalized”. Meeka was passed over for adoption hundreds of times because her behavior wasn’t considered favorable or acceptable. Her fearfulness made her cower in the corner of her kennel while other dogs barked at potential adopters and jumped against their kennel doors to get attention. Meeka gave up on that happening for her long ago and accepted her fate at the back of her kennel.

Meeka’s fortunate changed when a lady called Amber saw her potential and decided to invest the time and patience needed to improve her confidence. Amber spent weeks going out to the shelter to visit her and took her on car rides to a local park where they could get to know each other. As Meeka began to realize how much fun car rides could be, her personality really started to come out and she allowed herself to bond with the woman who would become her human mommy.

It took a while, but Meeka finally accepted Amber’s other dog and often sits near her or licks her face and jowls. Meeka likes to hoard dog toys and often curls up on a blanket or her human mommy’s laundry during the day and lazily chews on treats.

See Meeka’s Journey (Video 30 mins): https://youtu.be/fxlp3RtxQt0

3rd Place

Forever Friends Humane Society, Oklahoma

Sam Adams

Sam Adams’ shelter form stated “Owner surrender due to behavioral issues. Cat is urinating outside the litterbox. Cat is front declawed. Owner advised cat has always been very aggressive. Cat will attack everything and anything.”

No one could touch Sam Adams. The shelter could not even take him out of his carrier to give the carrier back to the owner, so they placed him, still inside his carrier, into a larger cat kennel and let him come out on his own. If you came near his kennel, the screaming, growling and lunging would begin.  Truly one of the worst cases of aggression that any of us had ever seen in a domestic house cat.  All signs indicated extreme trauma, pain and possibly abuse.  Sam Adams was miserable.

The Animal Control Officer (ACO) said it was the worst case she had ever dealt with and under normal circumstances, or in any other shelter, this cat would have been taken straight back to the kill room the moment the owner left. However, the ACO did not want to kill this cat. She wanted to see if rescue would take him and find out what was wrong.

Forever Friends Humane Society asked for an X-ray of Sam Adams’ paws. He had to be sedated to do this, but what we saw explained everything. This declawed cat was suffering extreme agony due to his declawed feet.

Sam Adams was transported to Kindness Vet Hospital to see paw repair specialist, Dr. Suzanne Hurst. Dr. Hurst observed the angry, aggressive cat who lunged at her and tried to eat her face and said, “I can help him.” She found that each front declawed toe was badly infected with E. coli.  Sam Adams was suffering immense pain from this infection.

Sam Adams had his paw repair surgery two days later. The surgery was almost three hours long as Dr. Hurst, worked on each individual toe to clean out the infection. Once Sam Adams woke up, he was on pain medication and antibiotics, but he wanted to eat.

With the pain in his feet now relieved, we saw a different cat. It was incredible! Sam Adams was no longer lunging, growling, and trying to attack. Now with the physical pain gone, we saw the emotional trauma. A lot of work ahead and he is now with a foster who specializes in extreme aggressive cases.  The latest report was “Sam was sitting up on my dresser tonight and I walked up to him and made kissy noises and he kissed my nose….like he totally knew what that meant!”

A lot has happened to bring us to this point, but this is what we had waited to hear! Sam Adams is going to recover and he is going to finally live the life he was meant to!

See Sam Adams’ Video: https://youtu.be/BZnju5luAR4

Fourth Place

Tails Humane Society, Illinois


Harriet was brought into our care by one of our volunteers who discovered her as a stray. She was sick and malnourished. It was later discovered that she was pregnant. Sadly, she miscarried, possibly due to her poor condition.

Shortly after her miscarriage, we received two extremely young orphaned kittens who would have needed round-the-clock bottle feeding and a lot of care. However, when we introduced the kittens to Harriet, her maternal instincts kicked in right away, and she began to shower them with affection as if they were her own.

Harriet is still in recovery in one of our foster homes where she is receiving all of the TLC she needs. After all she has been through, Harriet is recovering well and her motherly instincts have helped in this process, as she has been able to focus on caring for these tiny kittens. Harriet will continue to receive all the love and attention she needs until she is ready to find her forever home.

Fourth Place

Azrael’s Place, Illinois

Orange Litter

This is difficult to write, because yesterday I found out that my foster kittens have FVRP or feline Parvo, which is way too common in shelter kittens and is often fatal. In fact, three of the six siblings already lost their battle a few days ago. By the time the third one was rapidly going downhill, I prayed that he would go fast, since his tiny lungs were gasping for air. I was actually relieved-through my tears-when five minutes later, wrapped up in a little towel to keep him warm and comfortable, his body went perfectly still.

The first two had died sometime after 1 a.m. the previous morning. They were huddled together in a little cat bed, with one of their heads curved into the other’s stomach.  I’d like to believe they were comforting each other, and that they’ve now crossed the rainbow bridge together. I wrapped them together and wished them God speed. I want to believe that they’re now kitty angels watching over their three siblings left behind, helping them to fight this devastating disease.

I’m writing this today as these three little buff babies, only about a pound each are still weak, congested, and dehydrated with fluid dripping from their eyes and nose. But they’re putting up one hell of a fight, so how can I not fight along with them? I believe they want to live, so I have to give it my best shot.

I pray that these three little guys get the miracle they deserve. Please say an extra prayer for them and all the animals who are needlessly suffering.

Is it too weird that the highlight of your day is seeing your 1 lb. foster kitten producing a solid poop as big as his body?

Honorable Mention

Fat Cat Rescue, Inc., Illinois

Mickey Finn

Mickey Finn was rescued by the police from a dog-fighting ring where he was used as bait. He was injured from being shaken in front of dogs to incite them to attack.

Mickey found refuge at Fat Cat Rescue among the friendly feral colony managed by Fat Cat. He does not like dogs to this day, but he has become a protector and champion of cats and kittens. He watches over new arrivals to the shelter.

A year ago, Mickey spotted a kitten outside of the feral cat area and ran over to him. Mickey wouldn’t move until the kitten followed him back into the rescue’s backyard. It was as if Mickey was saying, “Come on over! These people feed, love, and protect us.” Mickey is living the good life at Fat Cat Rescue along with his friend, the feral kitten. Kitten has warmed up to people at the rescue and we are very hopeful that he will be adopted as a friendly barn cat.

1st Place

DREAM Animal Rescue, California


Special needs cat, Persimmon, lives with a spinal condition that inhibits the use of her back legs. Watch the heartwarming and endearing video of his resolve: https://youtu.be/2Wi9rrdp-L8

2nd Place

Cape Kitty Rescue, Texas


Cape Kitty Rescue discovered a nearly feral cat (now named Soli) living behind a dollar store and decided to rescue him from his life dumpster diving.

Soli now lives a life in a cat sanctuary with plenty of love, meals, and relaxing sunbaths. Watch the video of his journey: https://youtu.be/0xCxYhvbuGY

3rd Place

Tiggertown, Tennessee

Residents of Tiggertown

Tiggertown created a wonderful compilation of the furry faces residing at their cat and kitten rescue in Chattanooga. Watch their video of all their furry cuteness at: https://youtu.be/V0HZICmHId0

Fourth Place

Hearts That Purr Feline Guardians, Arizona

Antonio, Archie, and Roscoe

Sadly, the elderly owner of the cats died in his carport and it was two weeks before he was found. His cats were inside, starving and alone. Many of them had not survived.

Hearts That Purr Feline Guardians rescued two seniors and named them Antonio and Archie. They were in very poor physical and emotional health. Yet, despite all they had endured, both cats were friendly and affectionate. Two weeks later, another cat in this tragedy was found alive! The cat was identified by a relative as 15-year old Roscoe. How he survived alone in the house for almost a month is a miracle!

Since then, unfortunately, Antonio was diagnosed with GI lymphoma and is living out his days at the beautiful feline retirement home of Hearts That Purr. Archie was adopted into a wonderful forever home.

Roscoe’s road to recovery has been longer, but he has been nursed back to physical health. He is still haunted by the horrific experience of being left alone to almost die and is still wary of strangers. However, with all the love and care this gentle old soul receives from Hearts That Purr, he is coming out of his shell a little more each day. He will soon find the loving home he deserves.

Watch the video of Roscoe’s journey: https://youtu.be/eykHlYianQg

Fifth Place

Karma Cat Rescue/The Dancing Cat, California


Athena was in a car with her owner who was in a high-speed chase, running from the police after committing a felony. He crashed off an exit ramp at too high a rate of speed and Athena was thrown from the car.

She did not seem injured from the crash, but she was so afraid that she ran onto the interstate where she was then hit by a car. The police gently picked Athena up and took her to the shelter in the rural town nearby.

Karma Cat Rescue/The Dancing Cat heard about Athena from the local news stations and immediately called the shelter to see if they could take possession of her. The shelter had the owner sign Athena over and she received proper vet treatment right away. She required major surgery and went into a loving foster home to heal. Athena was such a beautiful, sweet girl that she was quickly adopted by a loving family.

Watch the video in honor of Athena at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbbo7e0GZsY

1st Place

Roughneck Rescue and Sanctuary, Michigan

Momma, now Layla

Momma was a stray who was found flea-infested, skinny, and suffering from overbreeding.

Watch the heartwarming video of Momma’s journey to her happy ending at: https://youtu.be/d1OXNtImX64

2nd Place

Tragic to Magic, California


Can you believe it is the same dog? Watch their upbeat video showing the transformation of rescue pup, Hope, at: https://youtu.be/zy_4e8vsw-8

3rd Place

Stonecliffe Animal Rescue, California


The story of Gracie and her puppies captured our hearts! Watch their video at: https://youtu.be/figALPlo9cA

Fourth Place

One Dog at a Time, Missouri


Watch the video showing the incredible recovery and transformation of adorable Puddin and her puppies at: https://youtu.be/aZsjqbUKi68

1st Place

Operation Purr, Louisiana


Beautiful Grayson was dumped in a parking lot. He was hungry, thin, afraid, and confused. Despite being fearful of human contact, we trapped him, got him vetted and neutered, and fed him lots of nutritional food. Today, he lives a happy life in a safe, managed colony.

2nd Place

Fixin’ Feral Felines, Illinois

Feral Kittens

This colony was being fed by an older gentleman, who had a screened-in room attached to his garage so the cats could have shelter, especially during winter. We trapped all ten-some older kittens. While I was there, I snapped a couple of pictures of the kittens, playing in his garden. Just thought the pictures were so cute. (So did we at Rescue Bank and GreaterGood.org!!)

3rd Place

The Cat Network-Broward Chapter, Florida

Feral Kittens

These stray twin kittens Mary and Ernie were found by one of our volunteers, while feeding a feral group in Tamarac.

Fourth Place

Paws South Florida Rescue, Inc., Florida

Feral Kittens

This year we have worked with one of the most unusual and productive volunteers our organization has ever had – a homeless man who set up his tent in a public park down the street from one of the trailer parks where we work.

One of the local residents told us about this gentleman who had incredible success working with feral cats in the park. They were helping him feed the cats, but needed help to get the cats sterilized. We met with this man, who we have come to call Roo because he claims to be from Australia. (We really think he’s from New Jersey!)

The adult cats have become so friendly with him that he can actually pick them up. This makes it very easy for us to take them in to get them sterilized. He also works with their litters and has become a very valuable socializer for the kittens like Alexis, Anthony, and Cassius who we were able to get adopted into a loving home.

1st Place

All Species Kinship, Michigan


Tiger lived 24/7 on the end of a chain. For three years, A.S.K. visited twice a week to ensure Tiger’s life was as comfortable as possible. We provided a sturdy, insulated doghouse with fresh straw, toys, chews, and treats as well as flea/tick and parasite meds.

On one of our regular visits, Tiger’s guardian came out with a look of desperation on her face. She was being forced to leave and would not be able to take Tiger.

In the blink of an eye, Tiger was un-chained and led to our outreach van, headed for the ultimate life as a rescue dog with A.S.K.! After a two-month stay, where he received the benefits of Rescue Bank food, he found the perfect home of his own!

Today Tiger has endless quantities of toys to play with and two adoring parents that have him by their sides all the time. He went from being 24/7 alone to 24/7 embraced by his new guardians who cannot imagine life without him!

2nd Place

Pup Squad, Texas

Turbo and Tank

Cocoa was dumped outside a Houston shelter when she was heavily pregnant. Never-the-less, she was scheduled for euthanasia. Pup Squad rescued her in the knick of time and provided the tender love and care she desperately needed. With the help of Rescue Bank’s food, she was able to gain weight and stay healthy through her delivery and nursing her babies. Here are her puppies, Turbo and Tank twinning. They were able to thrive in foster care until they were adopted.

3rd Place

Great Pyrenees Rescue of Western Pennsylvania


Fizzgig came into rescue from a farm in West Virginia at eight weeks old. After some time, we found a home for him. Unfortunately, the family that adopted him returned him to me a year later because their neighbors complained about his barking.

He became so bonded with my family that when we tried to adopt him out, he did not want to stay there. He tried to escape and so, he came back to me. It was inevitable that I would adopt Fizzgig.

He now does service work by helping raise money and being an ambassador for his breed for the great Pyrenees Rescue of W. PA. He is a very loving guy to his furry and human siblings and completes our family.

Fourth Place

Wishbone Canine Rescue, Illinois


Stella, her mother and siblings were scheduled to be euthanized at a rural shelter in Kentucky. Wish Bone stepped in to rescue them all. The whole litter was diagnosed with Distemper and in the end, it claimed the lives of all but Stella and her brother, Chunk.

Stella and Chunk lead good lives today. They were foster failed together and they have a big back yard to run around in. Stella goes on many hikes through the woods nearby and loves any opportunity to run next to her dad while he rollerblades. She howls at sirens, as any good husky would. She loves little kids and enjoys gently nibbling on your nose as a sign of affection. She has gone to many community shelter outreach events, including a local Boy Scout meeting, our annual Wine and Wishes fundraiser, and adoption events, to tell her Rescue story. She is even featured with her brother on the Wish Bone banner!

Honorable Mention

FluffyButts Rescue Resort, Iowa


Jax is quite the adventure dog! The photo attached shows him enjoying a morning kayak float down the Des Moines river! Jax enjoys a homemade diet and free roam of his house. He has a large yard and siblings to play with. He enjoys sleeping under the covers of our bed, right in your arm. He’s definitely a mama’s boy, stuck to her side!

1st Place

Stray Hearts Animal Rescue, Kentucky


Harlequin was born to a calico cat that was literally thrown out on our shelter road while pregnant. This photo was posted on Petfinder.com, and it caught the attention of a family in WV. Today, Harlequin – or Harley – is adored. She has the run of the house, sleeps in any bed she wants, and is a very happy cat!

2nd Place

New Hope Cat Rescue & Sanctuary, Texas


Ridge was found wondering alone in the neighborhood after his family had moved and left him to fend for himself.  He wasn’t neutered and more than likely, had not received any veterinary care.

Today Ridge has been fully vetted and is awaiting his forever home.  Needless to say, this cat was not going to be ignored! As you can see by his photographs he is what I would call a class clown! He brings so much joy and happiness to our lives.  He has even encouraged an otherwise feral cat to become friendly and allows his caretaker to pet and scratch him.

3rd Place

Fat Cat Rescue, Inc., Illinois


Skittles is one of many litters of kittens from stray and feral moms that Fat Cat Rescue has saved from the street. She and her siblings were transferred to a foster home where they were given special attention. Skittles had a urinary infection that required two weeks of treatment. As she was recovering, all her siblings were adopted into loving homes. Skittles is now 5 months old and in good health in her foster home. She is so adorable, we know she will be adopted soon.

Fourth Place

C.A.R.E. (Compassionate Animal Rescue Efforts), Oklahoma


Archie, a little kitten was trapped up a telephone pole and was absolutely terrified.  It happened to be outside our founder’s workplace, so she climbed up there and rescued him!  Archie has just been adopted into a great family.  He is so playful and funny.  He has been one of our favorites!