Life-Saving Pets

Life-Saving Pets

by Heleigh Bostwick, June 2010

Dogs are often called “man's best friend” and deservedly so. Throughout history there have been numerous accounts of dogs and other pets saving their owners' lives. From horses to birds, cats, pigs, and of course, dogs, let's take a look at some of these amazing pet heroes, who not only provided companionship for their owners and their families, but also saved them from imminent danger.  

1. Kenai, the Bernese Mountain Dog

Named the 2010 “Dog of Valor” by The Humane Society of the United States, Kenai, a 14-year-old Bernese mountain-dog mix, is credited with preventing his owners and several of their friends from dying of carbon monoxide poisoning at their vacation home in Colorado. After a day of playing hard in the snow, Kenai seemed unusually tired, but Todd Smarr and his wife weren't too concerned. Around bedtime, however, Kenai began to whine and bark, the first sign that something was amiss.

As Smarr tried to comfort the dog, a guest announced she was not feeling well and after waking Smarr's wife Michelle, the guest collapsed. Alarmed, Smarr acted quickly to evacuate the house. The Smarrs credit Kenai with raising the alarm and say that if Kenai hadn't alerted the family of the danger, it's doubtful they would have survived. 

2. Lulu, the Pot-Bellied Pig

Known as the life-saving pig, Lulu has achieved cult status—she even has her own fan club on Facebook—for her heroic efforts in saving her owner, despite the fact that she is no longer with us. The story of Lulu dates back to August 1998 when Jo Ann Altsman and her husband, Jack, were vacationing in Presque Isle State Park with their two pets: a dog named Bear and our pig hero, a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig named Lulu.

As Jo Ann got out of bed that morning, she became dizzy and disoriented. Having suffered a heart attack 18 months earlier, Jo Ann knew she was having another one, but no one was around—except Lulu and Bear, who stayed close by. Suddenly Lulu took off, but Jo Ann had no idea where she had gone.

Apparently Lulu had decided to take matters into her own hands and headed for the doggy door. At 125 pounds, she barely squeezed through, but she made it and trotted briskly toward the highway. There, Lulu lay down on the road. After several cars swerved by, she got up and raced back to the trailer where Jo Ann was laying down, only to repeat her actions again and again.

Finally, a motorist stopped and miraculously followed Lulu back to the trailer. He quickly comprehended the situation and called for help. The motorist remains unidentified.

3. Sunny Boy, the Palomino Quarter Horse

In 2008, Chloe-Jeane Wendell and her family were riding their horses in full Western gear in a parade in their hometown of Vivian, Louisiana. Daughter Chloe-Jeane was riding Sunny Boy, a palomino quarter horse that the family had brought to the farm a few years before. Sunny Boy was skittish and was easily spooked by human contact, but Chloe-Jeane seemed to have the magical touch.

As the parade got underway, suddenly a 75-pound pit bull charged at her sister's horse, Angel. As Chloe-Jeane's sister jumped off her horse to keep from being thrown, the pit bull turned face and began charging at her. Chloe-Jeane then jumped off her horse, Sunny Boy, to try to protect her sister, but the pit bull did an about face and started attacking Chloe-Jeane.

Suddenly, Sunny Boy—who just moments before looked as if he was about to run off—jumped in between Chloe-Jeane and the dog, and kicked the pit bull in the face. The vicious dog began biting the horse's legs and was finally captured by animal control. 

4. Baby, the Cat

Among the many stories of cats saving their owner's lives is the story of Baby, a 13-year- old cat belonging to Letitia Kovalovsky. Baby is credited with saving the life of her owner—who was seven months pregnant with twins at the time— as well as the life of her owner's boyfriend, Josh Ornberg. The couple had fallen asleep on the couch and the next thing Ornberg knew, Baby had jumped on top of them, waking Ornberg up. According to Ornberg, this was a rare move for Baby, who preferred hiding under the bed or in the bathtub. When Ornberg saw an orange glow down the hallway, he immediately realized a fire had broken out and scrambled to get everyone out of the house, including Baby. 

5. Rabbit, the Rabbit

Just six months old at the time, Rabbit, the rabbit, performed his heroic act in a burning, smoke-filled house in Melbourne, Australia, in July 2008. What makes this story remarkable is that Rabbit was free to roam the house at night and instead of hopping away when the fire broke out—as most animals would do—Rabbit opted to save the lives of his owners. By scratching on their bedroom door for over 30 minutes, Rabbit finally woke up Gerry and Michelle Finn. The Finns then scooped up Rabbit and fled the house.