The rescue and reunion of animals whose lives we touch comprise the most joyful elements of our work within the Humane Society of the United States and across the range of our affiliates. In a season of reflection, gratitude and transition to a New Year, I draw special hope from the stories of three dogs whose lives changed for the better as a result of our efforts in 2018.

I’m grateful to the many colleagues whose dedication made these beautiful outcomes possible. And I’m deeply appreciative to the supporters who understand the urgency of our work, and who show their faith in us by supporting our efforts financially, by volunteering, or by taking action for animals.

We first met Max when he was rescued with 150 other animals from a South Korean dog meat farm. His legs were badly deformed, but he had boundless energy and an indomitable spirit. After he found placement with our shelter and rescue partner Mastiffs to Mutts, we financed the surgery that made it possible for Max to walk again, and since then he hasn’t missed a step. He’s got the world at his feet now, and he’s living the best possible life a dog could have. That energy and spirit we first saw in a dark corner of a grim and wretched dog meat farm is now embodied in a happy dog who splashes through puddles, vaults onto beds, and wrestles with blankets, rubber balls and toys.

The second dog whose good fortune moved me belonged to Alexis Stoffer, a woman who was displaced during the California wildfires. Alexis lost her home and needed time to recover from the emotional and practical impact of her tremendous loss, and regrettably, she was not in a position to keep her beloved companions with her as she faced the great personal tragedy that the fires had caused. But HSUS responders were on the ground within days of the disaster, and we kept her dogs at our emergency animal shelter while Alexis worked to rebuild her life and find a new home. Their reunion at our temporary shelter produced some of the most deeply moving images we saw this year in our work.

Finally, there was Emma, one of 55 dogs we helped to remove from a large-scale cruelty case. She was in poor condition, with very little fur because of a serious skin condition -- a pitiful sight. We placed her with our shelter and rescue partner, Lost Dog and Cat Rescue, and her story shows that veterinary care and the right placement can make a world of difference for a dog in need. Now, just a few months later, Emma has a full coat of fur, and lots of friends. More importantly, she’s full of love and is loved, and living life to the max as a happy dog in a forever home. It’s a second chance story to match any other we’ve witnessed in 2018.

Together with our affiliates, we’ve helped save tens of thousands of dogs around the world this year, and each of these precious animals embodies the promise and the urgency of our work. Your generous support will allow us to do even more to help animals in distress in the New Year. We are lifted by these and other stories of the transformative power of our programs to help animals, and we hope you are too.

Help animals like Emma