The 12 Most Amazing Animal Stories of 2012

BOSTON, Jan. 2, 2013 – With the New Year underway the MSPCA-Angell today unveiled its 12 most amazing animal stories of 2012, a year filled with unbelievable survival stories and adoptions that underscore the indomitable spirit of animals, and those who care for them.

From the MSPCA’s world-class Angell Animal Medical Center to its Adoption Centers in Boston, Centerville and Methuen, Mass., animals stole the show in 2012.  The 12 stories that captured hearts and minds this past year include the following.  An accompanying photo gallery can be accessed on the MSPCA-Angell’s Facebook page by clicking here.


1)      Mr. Bates loses a leg but gains a home On a frigid February day a hiker in Southbridge, Mass. stumbled upon a severely injured cat whose crushed left forelimb was ensnared in a purposely set leg-hold trap.  “Mr. Bates,” as he came to be known, was completely immobilized and defenseless against the bitter chill and ever present predators such as coyotes.  He was rushed to Angell—where veterinarians had no choice but to amputate his leg.  The brave and determined cat slowly recovered and after months of foster care at the MSPCA he was adopted by a family who has given him the peaceful, warm and love-filled life he deserves.

2)      Bean swallows the cheese knife Last January a 120-lb Bull Mastiff named Bean managed to swallow an entire wedge of brie and the cheese knife placed beside it.  Her shocked owner immediately brought Bean to Angell, where she underwent emergency surgery to remove the knife.  After recovering for only a day, Bean went back home to her family.

3)      Abused miniature horses find homes! When 19 starving, parasite laden miniature horses were brought to the MSPCA-Nevins Farm in Methuen last March the team doubted whether they could even provide the monumental care the fragile and very sick beasts would require.  The horse’s health problems ranged from severe malnutrition and dental disease to internal and external parasites to overgrown hooves.  But the barn team’s efforts were met by a huge outpouring of support from the community and within a month the horses were gaining weight and—with treatment provided for free by area veterinarians moved by the horses’ plight—they began to be adopted. 

4)      Revolutionary “muscle transplant” surgery enables Bella to walk again Last June Bella the dog fell off a bed and completely disabled her right front leg, causing it to draw up and behind her until it was perpendicular to the floor.  It was a macabre sight and the injury completely immobilized the once spirited canine.  Worse, her owners worried she might never recover.  Surgeons at Angell were able to transplant muscle from Bella’s back to her injured leg—and “train” the muscles to do the work the previous leg muscles had done.  Now, several months after her surgery, Bella can walk again and is getting stronger every day.

5)      Lilly saves her owner and becomes a worldwide phenomenon No one will soon forget the story of Lilly, the hero Pit bull who in May pulled her unconscious owner away from railroad tracks as a freight train barreled through.  Her owner was unharmed but Lilly was struck by the train as it passed and was gravely injured.  She had her right front leg amputated at Angell and spent months recovering.  Lilly now makes regular appearances around New England to promote Pit Bull adoption, to the delight of her enthusiastic fans.

6)      Jake has a stick removed from behind his eye A lively run through the woods early last year proved costly for German shorthaired pointer Jake, who managed to charge into the branch of a tree, lodging a two-inch stick right behind his eye.  The stick not only caused great pain but also detached more than 30 percent of Jake’s retinae.  The Angell Ophthalmology team came to Jake’s aid by surgically removing the stick—much to Jake and his owner’s relief.

7)      Pink travels from Long Island to Boston – but how? A good Samaritan brought Pink the cat into the MSPCA’s Jamaica Plain Adoption Center in September, believing the cat to be just another starving homeless cat living outside.  Little did anyone know, however, that Pink did indeed have a home (and a family) in… Sag Harbor, New York—140 miles away!  No one knows how Pink made the trip from Long Island to Boston—and fortunately his family, who were desperate to find their missing cat, had him microchipped.  Without the microchip it would have been impossible for the Adoption Center to arrange for his travel back home.

8)      McGougan gets a pacemaker 11-year-old terrier McGougan suffered from an irregular heartbeat that robbed his energy and threatened his life.  Cardiologists at Angell came to his aid on Dec. 5 by adapting the tried and true treatment for arrhythmia, in use for decades by human doctors: the pacemaker.  McGougan went home soon after his pacemaker was installed and is enjoying his regained freedom with his loving family.

9)      Sully the cat gets impaled by a stick Sully’s owner feared the worst last summer when doctors at Angell discovered her listless cat had been pierced by a sharp, nearly four inch stick that lodged perilously close to his heart.  Surgeons performed a delicate operation to remove the stick and, shortly thereafter, Sully was able to return home.

10)   Nina loses a leg, and her family Not only did the young and sweet-natured Pit Bull Nina lose a leg when she was struck by a car after escaping her Dorchester yard and darting into the street, she also lost her family.  Her owners surrendered her to the MSPCA’s Jamaica Plain Adoption Center after deciding they lacked the time and resources to care for her.  Nina required extensive medical care and staffers worried the shy and retreating dog might never capture the attention of a new family.  But the winds blew favorably for Nina as she was indeed adopted, just a few months after her ordeal.

11)   Bernadette recovers from burns and finds a loving home Dumped in a cardboard box in front of the MSPCA’s Jamaica Plain Adoption Center in March, Bernadette was burned over 60 percent of her body.  Much of the fur on her face (including her whiskers) had been singed off.  She was treated with pain medicine and antibiotics and ultimately adopted into a wonderful home.

12)   Toby’s desperate plight to survive When six-year-old tuxedo cat Toby arrived at the MSPCA-Centerville in March staffers were stunned to discover the extent of his illnesses and injuries.  One of Toby’s back legs had been fractured years ago and healed poorly; he had been repeatedly shot with a BB gun (and had numerous pellets lodged in his abdomen); a previously fractured jaw had healed badly; and both of his ears were severely infected and filled with bloody masses of tissue and cancerous polyps.  Toby underwent surgeries at Angell as well as multiple additional treatments for his various injuries and, nine months later, he is on the verge of a total recovery—and bound for his new forever home.


The MSPCA-Angell is a national and international leader in animal protection and veterinary medicine and provides direct hands-on care for thousands of animals each year. Founded in 1868, it is the second-oldest humane society in the United States. Services include animal protection and adoption, advocacy, humane education, law enforcement, and world-class veterinary care. The MSPCA-Angell is a private, non-profit organization. It does not receive any government funding nor is it funded or operated by any national humane organization. The MSPCA-Angell relies solely on the support and contributions of individuals who care about animals. Please visit