The hands-on rescue work we do at the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International can be some of the most difficult for our responders, emotionally, because no matter how often they do this, it is never easy to see animals living and suffering in terrible conditions. But it can also be some of the most rewarding work, and we never tire of hearing the adoption stories of the animals who, without our intervention, might have never experienced a day of love or joy.

Today I wanted to share two of these stories with you.

The first is of a dog, Hayden, who was living on a dog meat farm in Korea that HSI closed down in 2017. I remember going out to that farm with the team and seeing the squalid conditions the animals were living in, without any veterinary care or even a kind human touch. Many were suffering from eye infections, skin diseases, and painful leg and paw sores from days of standing and sitting on the metal wires and bars in their cages. Even so, most were excited to see us. But Hayden was different—as you can see in the video, she was cowering in the back of her cage fearfully. She had been a breeding dog, and her puppies had been taken away from her and slaughtered for their meat once they were old enough.

We pulled 170 dogs out of that farm that day and prepared them for their long journey to the United States, United Kingdom and Canada where they were placed with shelters for adoption.

In the video, you can see Hayden's incredible transformation. She was placed with Jane and Jonathan Heeter as a foster dog after her rescue and for a few weeks every walk was full of anxiety for Hayden because she was scared of every sound. She wouldn’t leave her crate for days except to go on short walks. She would barely even eat.

But the Heeters stuck by Hayden and eventually, one day, she jumped on the guest bed and sat with them while they watched television. She started playing and began to come out of her shell. The Heeters adopted her 101 days after they brought her home and as you can see, she’s the happiest dog that can be who enjoys her treats, playing fetch, rolling in the snow and yes, going for walks.

Tiny Tina. a thin, black kitten with badly infected eyes, was rescued from a terrible alleged neglect situation in Texas. Her new owner describes her as very loving and a "spitfire” who wants to play constantly.
Photo by Meredith Lee/The HSUS

Another animal who more recently found her forever home is Tiny Tina.

Some of you might remember Tiny Tina as a thin, black kitten with badly infected eyes who was pulled out last month, along with nearly 200 other cats and kittens, from a terrible alleged neglect situation in Texas.

Tiny Tina was adopted by one of the HSUS animal rescue volunteers at our temporary shelter where the kitten began her recovery after the rescue. “There was something about her that told me in my heart I just needed her,” her new mom said.

The nine-week-old kitten has been home for about a week now. Her mom, who also adopted a Great Dane, Buttercup, from a rescue the HSUS conducted in New Hampshire in 2017, describes Tiny Tina as a very loving girl who’s always crawling up to give nose kisses, a healthy eater, and a “spitfire” who wants to play constantly.

“It’s just so fun to see her having fun,” her mom says.

Hayden and Tiny Tina are just two of the countless animals our teams have helped transition from a life of despair to one filled with hope and happiness. Their stories reaffirm something that those of us who do this work know well – that animals trapped in situations that are seemingly hopeless and dire have an immense capacity to heal and to love. There are so many animals out there still trapped in situations with no apparent escape and in urgent need of help, and stories like those of Tiny Tina and Hayden inspire us and move us to continue fighting for a better, and more humane, world.