11 Amazing Animals That Saved Lives

Whether lazy and mellow or hyperactive and playful, pets enrich our lives by providing us with unconditional love. Some animals offer their owners even more than friendship though. Here are ten incredible animals that managed to rescue their owners from certain death.


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The DeStefanis agreed to watch the pet of some friends who were out of town. Surprisingly, this good deed ended up saving the family’s life. Because the family wasn’t sure how the pup, Bandit, would get along with their other dogs, they kept it in the master bedroom. That day, Rich, the father in the family sterilized a hairbrush by putting a hair brush in a pan with a bunch of water. Unfortunately, everyone forgot about the brush and went to bed without turning off the heat.

When the water evaporated and the plastic started burning, toxic smoke entered the air and filled the house. The family just bought new smoke detectors the day before, but not a single one went off. But Bandit was determined to save the family’s lives. He jumped on the mother’s chest and barked over and over until she woke up. When she did start to stir, she noticed the smoke smell immediately and got the rest of her family and pets out of the house.

The smoke was toxic enough to leave the family with some nasty coughs even a week later, but they if not for Bandit, they may have been a lot worse off.

Video Link


It’s fairly common for U.S. soldiers stationed overseas to find new best friends when they take in stray pups from the local towns. It is uncommon, on the other hand, for those dogs to repay the favor by saving the life of a soldier. Target and two other strays staying in an army base in Afghanistan managed to save an entire unit when a suicide bomber snuck into the barracks area one night. The three animals barked and snarled at the bomber until he ended up pre-maturely detonating his bomb outside the barracks, killing himself. Everyone inside was fine, but one of the heroic dogs lost his life in the explosion.

Target was adopted by one of the soldiers who witnessed the events that night and she was even featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show when she returned to the states. Unfortunately, the story took a tragic turn when Target escaped her yard and was picked up by the pound. Her owner paid the fine online and came to pick her up on Monday morning, only to find out the shelter accidentally euthanized Target over the weekend. While the shelter claims they are launching a full investigation and putting new measures in place to ensure this never happens again, it cannot bring back the heroic animal who risked her life to save a barracks worth of soldiers.

Video Link


While most pit bulls are loving family pets and some are even downright heroic, when raised in the wrong environment, any dog can become dangerous. When Cherry Woods was attacked in her yard by two pit bulls, she tried to fight them off, but couldn’t. Her husband also tried to pull the dogs away, but they were too strong for him. Fortunately, Cherry’s cat, Lima, did know how to stop the crazed dogs. He hoped into the fray, clawing, hissing and biting, managing to distract the pit bulls while the husband and wife ran inside and closed the door. Lima was able to escape after this and Cherry made a full recovery after the incident, with Lima at her side the whole time.

Video Link


Eleven year-old Austin Forman went outside his country home in British Columbia to get firewood with his pet golden retriever, Angel. On his way back, he was ambushed by a cougar. Fortunately, Angel threw herself in front of the wild cat. Austin ran inside and got his parents. When his father shot the cougar, both animals fell to the ground lifeless. Everyone thought Angel was dead, but when the two animals were pulled apart, the dog let out a loud breath. Amazingly, despite her many puncture wounds and the rip in her eyelid, she was able to make a full recovery with no permanent damage.

Video Link


Studies have shown that most dogs do not have Lassie-like instincts when their owners are in danger, but every now and again, one breaks the mold. Buddy is one of those amazing animals. His owner, Ben Heinrichs was working on a car when a spark from the heater ignited the gas and started a fire. Ben rolled to put out the flames and told Buddy to go get help.

As it turns out, it was a good thing Buddy went to get help because although the fire fighter was dispatched, the trooper’s GPS wasn’t working. He was lost in the neighborhood, but when he saw Buddy, he instinctively knew he should follow the dog. Although Buddy was never trained, he knew what to do and found the trooper and led him back home.

Rescuers say that were it not for Buddy, they would not have gotten there in time to save the house from burning down.

Video Link


Think only dogs and cats can be heros? Think again. When 70 year-old Zainab Bibi found herself in the middle of a massive flood in her native home of Daira Din Panah, Pakistan, her cow ended up saving her life. Zainab was sleeping in the courtyard when a flood struck without any warning. She was swept away with the water and when she saw her cow, Bhoori swim next to her, she grabbed the cows neck. The two floated for hours and eventually the cow found a dry spot and helped Zainab stand up. Without the cow’s help, the elderly widow may not have made it through the flood alive.

Illustrative image by sundaykofax [Flickr]


He may not have a very clever name, but Rabbit is one smart bunny. When his home caught on fire, he ran to the master bedroom and scratched on the door and thumped his legs until his owners woke up and realized there was a fire. The family’s fire alarm was recently removed while they were repainting, so they may not have woken up before it was too late, were it not for one heroic bunny. “There's absolutely no doubt that Rabbit saved our lives,” Michelle Finn said.

Image via Paul Stevenson [Flickr]


Sometimes animal rescuers do more than just alert people about a danger. Teka took a much more active role in saving someone’s life when his owner, Jim Touzeau, suffered a heart attack in 2007. When Touzeau fell to the ground motionless, Teka started barking and jumped on his owner’s chest until his heart restarted and Touzeau was able to call the paramedics.

Image via RSPCA Queensland


Seeing eye dogs are pretty amazing in their own right, but Dorado set a whole new bar for heroism when he led his blind owner down seventy flights of stairs just in time to save him from being another victim of the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

When Omar Eduardo Rivera heard the glass breaking and smelled the smoke, he resigned himself to being stuck in the building and he released Dorado from his harness and told him to go. The dog got swept away in the crowd of people, but he eventually made his way back to his master and faithfully guided him down all seventy flights of stairs.

Image via slagheap [Flickr]


Don’t let her size trick you into thinking Zoey is any less of a hero. The five pound Chihuahua saw her master’s one-year old son playing in the garden when a rattlesnake was nearby. Right as the snake struck at the boy, Zoey dove into action and put herself between the snake and the boy. She suffered from multiple bites, but she made a full recovery thanks to the rush care of a local veterinarian.

Image via acorbit [Flickr]


Sometimes dogs can rescue their owners from death even when the threat is not immediate. Maureen Burns thought it was rather strange when Max started acting more reclusive and kept smelling her breath and nudging her right breast with his nose. Eventually, she thought Max might be trying to tell her something, so she performed a self-exam of her breast and noticed a small lump. While the growth was too small to show up on a mammogram, Maureen was certain that Max knew something was wrong, so she asked the doctors to do a biopsy. The results came back showing malignant cancer. Because Max pushed her to get attention in time, she was able to get treatment and take care of the lump before it threatened her life. She says that if it weren’t for her dog, she may have found out too late and passed away as a result.

We all know that not animals are heroes, but there are certainly enough out there to garner respect and gratitude. Have any of you been rescued by your pet or known someone else who was saved by their animal?

Newest 4
Newest 4 Comments

Not to minimize what Target's owner is going through, but it's maybe worth pointing out that the dog didn't have tags or a microchip. Good reason to make sure your pets wear ID.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
UGH, although the pup is heroic, I really wish the one about Target would stop being posted. Only b/c it makes me extremely angry and depressed.
Anywho, these kinds of posts always leave me a big blubbering pile.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"11 Amazing Animals That Saved Lives"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More