16 Pet Adoption Stories That Will Make You Cry


All dogs and cats want is a loving, caring home, and nothing tugs at humans' heartstrings more than when they read an adoption story with a happy ending. At their best, these tales restore your faith in humanity, fully exhibit the transformative power of love, and serve as a reminder that we don't choose our pets so much as they choose us. Here, we've rounded up some stories that are sure to make you both shed a tear and then smile ear to ear. So get your tissues ready, and read on for some of the most awe-inspiring adoption stories. And for more tear-jerking tales, don't miss these 17 Holiday Proposal Stories That Will Melt Your Heart.

1. Bear, the pit bull hit by a car and left for dead

When Bear was still just a puppy, he was hit by a car at a gas station and left for dead. The accident led him to lose both of his eyes, and when his owner saw him at the pet hospital, she just left them there. Luckily, a member of the hospital staff told her daughter about Bear, and she welcomed the pit bull into her home and her heart. Now, he's the happiest pup ever. To learn more about Bear, find out Why the Story of This Blind Pit Bull Is Melting Hearts Everywhere.

2. AJ, an abandoned Lab whose sobs led to smiles

Back in 2016, a video of AJ—a six-year-old Labrador retriever—went viral for showing just how human a dog's reaction to being abandoned can be. The video from the Carson Animal Shelter in California showed the poor dog gasping back sobs in sorrow and confusion upon realizing that he had been abandoned. Once the video circulated around the internet, however, it wasn't long before tons of people applied to adopt both AJ and his brother, and soon they went home together with a good, loving family.

3. Bruno, the coolest and sassiest abandoned cat

In August 2018, the internet collectively fell in love with "Bruno the Hight Maintenance Cat"—a 25-pound, 7-year-old cat who was picked up by Wright Way Rescue in Illinois and deemed "too cool to be homeless." Bruno is so extra that he stands on his hind legs when demanding food and expects to be pet while eating. He also needs multiple water bowls to be placed for him around the house. He's now in a loving home where he's treated like the royalty that he is, and you can follow him on Instagram.

4. Columbo, the stray dog who went on a wild ride

In July 2018, cyclist Jarrett Little was riding his bike near Columbus, Georgia, when he spotted a stray dog who had seemed to have been hit by a car and was severely injured. The hero strapped the pup onto his back and rode seven miles into town to get help. There, they met a woman named Andrea Shaw, who immediately bonded with the dog and took him to a nearby animal hospital and then brought him home. She named him Columbo, after the town in which they serendipitously found each other, and posts frequent updates about him on Facebook for his many fans. And for more super-sweet stories, read the Incredible Story of a Dog That Adopted Nine Ducklings.

5. Chester, the pit bull mix who almost lost hope just before he met his new family

Possibly one of the most heart-breaking photos to ever appear on the internet came in April 2015 courtesy of The North Fork Animal Hospital in New York. It showed an extremely forlorn six-year-old pit bull mix holding up a cardboard sign saying, "Why doesn't anybody want me? I've been waiting five years. Everyone at the shelter tells me what a good boy I am. So why has no one adopted me? I promise to be good and love my new family. Please, maybe you are my new family. I sit and wait for you to come." The photo went viral and made everyone collectively cry. Hours later, he went home with his new family, and he couldn't have been happier.

6. Miley, the homeless pup whose life was turned upside down through love

If you love stories showcasing the transformative power of rescue and adoption, you'll love this one. When Hope For Paws in Los Angeles, California, found a Malamute/Siberian Husky mix living in a garbage dump, they knew her chances of survival were low.

"Miley suffered from mange, parasites, bacterial infections and malnutrition," according to a viral video about her. "Miley was pretty shut down." Thanks to the love and care of a veterinary clinic, she not only survived by thrived. Once she recovered, they found the perfect owner for her—actress and breast cancer survivor Toni Bua.

"I knew Toni was the right one from the moment we received her email," Sheila Choi, the founder and chief executive of the Fuzzy Pet Foundation, told The LA Times. "She wrote directly to Miley and really poured her heart out. It was so genuine and sincere, explaining that, just like Miley, she had also been through a very rough time and was in need of love and healing…There was also an immediate and indescribable bond between Toni and Miley. During that initial visit, Miley would not leave Toni's side. It almost seemed like they were long lost family members."

7. Captain Jack, the bullied cat who found a best friend

"I knew that I was ready to adopt a cat, so I starting looking online and at the humane society," wrote Reddit user @zivajack. "I went to the pound, but it was so sad that I ended up leaving without getting a cat. I went by the local ASPCA the next day to check out their 'cat room.' They had a really friendly cat who just crawled up onto my lap and demanded to be petted. I told the worker that 'this is the one!' and she said that he had just been adopted the day before and was on his 24-hour hold period. I was so bummed and told her that I didn't really meet another cat that I bonded with, so I would come back another day.

"She was like 'Wait! I think I know one you might like.' She took me in the back of the shelter, into what she called the 'welcome room.' There was a little kitten there and a really big, fuzzy cat too. I sat down and the big guy came up to me, sat down just out of arm's reach, and started purring like a motor. The worker told me that he wasn't good at standing up for himself, and was bullied in the main cat room, so he lived in a separate room as the 'welcome cat' to the new cats coming in. I picked him up and he started to head-butt me. It was love."

The Redditor named him Captain Jack and said five years later, "he still purrs like a motor every morning next to my ear in anticipation for breakfast. I love that big guy."

But wait… it gets even better! "About a year later, the ASPCA where I got Jack posted about another cat that had just come into rescue," @zivajack continued. "It was Jack's Twin! I called my mom and … she adopted him on the spot and has had him for about four years now."

8. These two rescued beagle brothers who were reunited by fate

"I rescued a beagle from a laboratory," wrote Reddit user @sankeyr. "He had been in the laboratory for the first four years of his life, never seeing the sun and never setting his paws on fresh grass. He had a tattoo in his ear (the lab put it there) with some letters and numbers. Let's say it was ABC001. After having him for about three years, my wife and I moved into a bigger house with a huge backyard, and we had always wanted to rescue another dog when we got a bigger house with a backyard. So we went and secured another dog from the laboratory.

"We brought our dog, and right away he connected with one of the other beagles. They played and played and he really didn't seem to [care] about any other dogs. They looked similar and their mannerisms were very much alike. The dog he was playing with was VERY shy, and he had been rescued a couple other times but the people had returned him. We said, '[Well], our dog likes him, that's good enough.' So we take him home. He also has a tattoo in his ear, and it's one above our current dog's, like ABC002. We thought that was pretty odd so we did some investigating. We called the lab to get a bunch of information and it turns out that our new dog is our current dog's older brother!"

9. Silverado, the cat who knew what he wanted

"My fiancé and I found this guy on Craigslist who had this beautiful tortie litter and we were going to meet him at a PetSmart parking lot. He never showed. Heartbroken, we went back home and she immediately found another posting for kittens," wrote another Reddit user. "So, at [nine that night] we went to this woman's house. Her heart was in a good place, but something wasn't right. She takes in feral cats and will adopt out the ones who aren't 100 percent terrified of humans…

"She happened to take in a pregnant mother. I've always wanted a tortoiseshell cat and was set on leaving with one. However, as we were ready to leave, this one kitten woke up from its nap, walked over to my fiancé, and sat on her shoe. Done." And if you're an animal owner, then rejoice in the fact that you get to experience these 30 Mind-Blowing Health Benefits of Pets.

10. Rosie, the German shepherd who was "picked up and never put back down"
Galvanized/Ann Marie Langrehr

"I had been asking my parents to get a dog for as long as I can remember," says Ann Marie Langrehr, an assistant editor at Eat This! Not That, "but we always had cats since they were easier to take care of and three kids was already a lot for my mom to handle. But, when my parents made us move—for the fourth time—my mom finally caved and said we could start fostering dogs to see how well we did with sharing responsibilities.

"This didn't work out too well because we fell so in love with the first dog—but when we went to go back to adopt him, someone had gotten there before us. Secretly, though, my mom knew this and she had seen German shepherd puppies at the local humane society online. So to 'cheer us up,' she said, 'Let's just go pet some puppies and sign up for the next foster dog.' We picked up a black German shepherd mix and never put her back down. We named her Rosie and brought home the best surprise for my dad…. He had said he never wanted a dog but now he's the one who plays with her the most out of all of us."

11. Ferdinand, the big guy who warmed this small-dog-loving woman's heart

"Ferdinand (formerly named Tamale) was the first dog I met when I started volunteering at ALIVE rescue in Chicago," wrote Imgur user @rumblerooaar. "I had grown up with small dogs, and this behemoth of a dog was a bit much to handle. Needless to say, he wormed his way into my heart, and after four months of trying to talk myself out of it, I adopted him. This is our adoption photo. I named him Ferdinand after the children's story Ferdinand the Bull. He goes by Ferd for short."

12. Kodak, a stray dog who made the perfect Christmas present

"[Kodak] was a present to my wife on Christmas 2005," wrote Imgur user @dave88ix. "She was found in Ohio on the side of the road eating a dead skunk with her sister. A kind woman took the dogs in, cleaned them up, and set her up for a long journey to Texas. I printed off the picture of the puppy… put it in a frame, and had my wife open it. She wasn't too sure what was going on. I told her she needed to start looking around. She found the box!"

13. Tyson, the German-Husky mix who staked a claim on his new owner

Not everyone who ends up with a new fur baby initially has the intention of adopting. Sometimes fate just decides to intervene and bring two souls together who are meant to be, like Quora user Amy Babineaux-Smith and her late dog Tyson.

"I had just purchased a bag of crickets for my son's bearded dragon when a bus from a no-kill shelter pulled up to the front of the pet store," she wrote about the first time she ever saw her dog. "One by one, dogs were brought off the vehicle and put into cages for the adoption fair. With five young kids at home, the thought of a furry four-legged pet added to the mix was a bit overwhelming, but I was too curious to get into my car right away.

"Each dog was so happy to leap off of that bus, but then quickly disappointed upon seeing another cage waiting for them. And then… the last dog to come off the bus was beautiful; half German shepherd and half Husky, his tail curled up like a true sled dog. My students and I had recently read The Call of the Wild and he looked just like the main character, Buck. I immediately walked to him, squatted down to say hello, and after a few seconds, he peed in my lap! The workers said, 'That's Bryce. He just claimed you as his new owner.'"

After introducing Bryce to her kids and husband, Amy and her family made the decision to adopt Bryce—whom they renamed Tyson—and they never once regretted it.

14. Puck, a cat who lost one potential home just to find a better one
Galvanized/Ari Notis

Best Life editor Ari Notis didn't find his cat Puck so much as Puck found him. "A few years ago, I was walking through Union Square, in New York City, and parked on the corner was a white van with something like 'ASPCA Cute Kittens!!!' written on the side in big block letters," he recalled. "So of course I popped in. …  One cat—a bite-sized panther, sound asleep—seemed cute enough to adopt on a whim. Too bad! He had already been adopted. As I was about to leave, this young woman walked in in a panic and started going on about how her roommates were allergic and how she didn't really think the adoption through all the way and how she couldn't take the cat anymore.

"So I turned around, and I picked the little guy up—and he promptly sneezed in my mouth. We had only just met, but right then and there, I knew for sure I would die to save him." And if you haven't quite had your fill of animal tales yet, then check out The 30 Most Adorable Animal Stories of 2018.

15. Godzilla, the Yorkie who stopped traffic to find his forever home

"I was on my way to work one day and happened to look down at the median strip and saw this little brown dog crouched in the mulch, looking anxiously up at my Bronco barreling down the lane next to him," wrote Quora user Cathy Keating. "Without a second thought, I pulled a U-turn, stopped the truck, halted traffic on my side of the lanes, and waited for traffic to clear on the other side. Then I approached and crouched down. He crawled immediately into my lap and allowed me to put in him the truck. But I really wanted to find this dog's owners; I had no desire to have a small dog, much less a Yorkie, but… no luck. I was stuck with him."

16. Rosie, the abandoned terrier who made one man get more than he bargained for at the store

Though Quora user Francis Lapeyre and his wife had only gone to the pet store for some cat food, what they left with that day was much more than some grub.

"My wife and I were at PetSmart to buy cat food and while I was loading it on the cart she called me and said, 'I've found our dog!'" wrote Lapeyre. "Rosie, a wire haired terrier, had been found under a vacant house with two puppies (one survived), and no owner in sight. She was probably abandoned by her owners (she knows basic commands and is as sweet as can be, except when strangers come to the door). She was rescued by an animal charity and that day, the charity was doing adoptions at PetSmart. My wife fell in love with her at first sight. And so did I. So, I went to the dog section for dog food, we got a leash and collar, and the rest is history." And if these tales have you wanting to bring a furry friend home, don't miss the 15 Amazing Benefits of Adopting a Pet.

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