17 Animal Lovers Share How Adopting a Shelter Pet Changed Their Lives

In honor of National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day, Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt and more animal lovers discussed how their amazing rescue pets rescued them right back.

By Mike Vulpo Apr 30, 2022 12:00 PMTags

Don't shop, adopt!
At this moment, countless animal shelters are filled with dogs, cats and other pets hoping to find their forever home. And with National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day landing on April 30, animal lovers like Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt are reminding people of the amazing possibilities that come when you rescue a pet from a shelter.
"I think the biggest misconception is that rescue animals are damaged beyond repair and they are in shelters for a good reason," Katherine, who is expecting her second child with Chris Pratt, exclusively shared with E! News. "There are so many animals that are in shelters simply because of bad luck or irresponsible pet owners, and so many of these animals, when given a second chance and the proper love and attention, they become beautiful additions to families."
In honor of National Pet Month this May, Katherine is teaming up with Bounty and the Best Friends Animal Society to surprise new pet owners by covering their animal adoption fees.
Katherine, who rescued her dog Maverick from the streets of Santa Monica, Calif., hopes this opportunity allows families to consider helping an animal in need.

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"There are always animals who have challenges, some are in shelters and others are from other places, but we should never lump them together or generalize an animal based on the life or journey they were born into," she said. "I couldn't imagine my life without Maverick and we can't let these misconceptions prevent good people from adopting great dogs—dogs who have the potential to change their person's life for the better!"

Keep reading to hear more inspiring stories from Americans about how their rescue pets brought joy, happiness and love to their daily lives.

And don't forget to give credit to all of the volunteers who spend hours and hours caring for animals in and out of shelters. 
"They are truly angels," Katherine said of animal rescue volunteers. "People who care for animals and are voices for the voiceless are angels on earth and I am inspired every single time I walk into a shelter and see everyone taking the time out of their busy lives to make sure animals in need of love and basic necessities are taken care of."

"Having Maverick in my life has taught me so much about unconditional love, responsibility and has introduced me to the whole big world of animal rescue and adoption. It is such a wonderful place filled with incredible people making the world a better place and I feel so lucky to be able to be a part of it and witness everything that people are doing to help animals."—Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt, who adopted from Santa Monica, Calif. 

"Drizzy is a pit bull mix who was rescued from a high-kill shelter in Texas, and he's been my best friend and confidant for two years.  He loves going for a long hike in the woods, snuggling on the couch and charming every person he meets. He's even won over my mom, who was scared of dogs! Drizzy has inspired me to foster pit bulls, as unfair stereotypes and breed restrictions keep them from finding loving homes."—Dan Reed, who adopted from Pet Rescue Alliance 

"Everyone who meets Wally comments on what a unique dog he is. He's certainly quirky, but that's why we love him. He suffers from severe anxiety, which manifests itself through loving on us. Wally greets us every morning with a ‘good morning hug' and every night, after we tuck our son into bed, Wally lays on the floor of his nursery to protect him while he sleeps. He is such a blessing to us."—Coco Howe, who adopted from God's Dogs Rescue

"When I saw Annabelle on Instagram, living in a cage, I knew she was meant to be in my life. She was so dirty, skinny and scared when I got her, but she's taught me so much about patience, trying to understand another living being's emotional needs and to not judge a book by its cover. I met my other rescue Roxy at an adoption event and fell in love when I saw her. She is the sweetest, most loving dog I've ever met. She's taught me how love and kindness is contagious and that dogs really are therapeutic."—Kacey Montoya, who adopted from Carson Animal Shelter and Los Angeles Animal Rescue

"I adopted Bonsai in November 2021 after he was left with his mother by a breeder six months before. Since we've met, he's ruined me—my guard lowered, anxiety faded and my confidence grew—I was rescued. I've grown to love the sound of his snore, which settles somewhere in the range of wild hog and low flying helicopter. I adore him."—Javier Camps, who adopted from San Gabriel Valley Humane Society

"Before we met Hopper, there was a hole in our hearts. We knew we wanted to help a vulnerable animal down on their luck, but we never knew we could love a 3-legged, 15-pound bundle of fur this much. Hopper shows his love for us every day. Whether it's his head butts, slow eye blinking or attention-grabbing yowls."—Ross & Emily Marchand, who adopted from Humane Rescue Alliance

"We talk about rescue animals as if we rescue them—which we did, in the most straightforward sense of the word. But in reality, they rescue us a million times over. Having a dog has changed my life first and foremost, because it really is like having a built-in best friend. And let's be honest, dogs > humans every day."—Hillary Bautch, who adopted from H.A.L.T Dog Rescue 

"When we first adopted Apollo at only 6 weeks old, we were told he had a rough first few weeks of life as he was pulled from a high-kill shelter and brought into the rescue where he was placed with a temporary foster. At the time, we were new to the Houston area and looking to add a furry friend to our little family. The first second I met Apollo, we knew he was meant to be ours. He was an extremely tough puppy and it took him a long time to get acclimated to us and to his new surroundings, but it taught us so much about patience, problem solving and most importantly, unconditional love once we finally gained his trust. He now shares our pillows at night and even made the cross-country road trip with us to be the ring bearer in our wedding, where he walked down the aisle and stole the show!"—Brooke and Robert Marsch, who adopted from Friends for Life 

"Dallas is a 10-year-old German Shepard mix. When we found him at the shelter, he had been there five months after being found abandoned on the road. He is the sweetest, gentlest big dog we've ever had. He loves everyone and was never given a proper chance before us because people were scared of his size. He is our best friend and it doesn't matter what we're doing; as long as he's with us, he's always happy!"—Kylie Guthrie, who adopted from Georgina Animal Shelter 

"I think people like to say how much of a difference we make in a dog's life by changing their life and improving their situations. I think what people are truly forgetting is the difference a dog makes in our lives. They are an equal member of the family along with our cat Fred, and we cannot imagine our lives without the both of them."—Andy Otovic and Lucy Orozco, who adopted from Castaic Animal Shelter

"When we picked up Tutz, our pit bull/lab mix, we were warned that our adoption wouldn't work out because this dog could never live in a home with a man. She had come from an abusive situation and was terrified of men and acted out aggressively. Three years later, she and Morgan Hall, my boyfriend, are best friends and inseparable. She's brought us closer than ever and makes our little apartment feel like home."—Bentley Boldt, who adopted from Take Paws Rescue 

"I was told when I adopted Gracey that he came from a really bad situation, but nothing prepared me for how much love and patience he needed to learn how to trust people again. It wasn't until about 6 months after I adopted him that I first saw him wag his tail. Now he's the happiest, cutest little guy with the biggest personality. He loves shopping, going to brunch or to the office with me and more than anything, he loves getting dressed up every day. He's become my little shadow in the best way and I'm so grateful to have him."—Katie McKenna, who adopted from Pet Rescue Services Inc. 

"I was in NYC during the height of the pandemic and adopted Leo in late 2020. Leo has allowed me to rediscover the city I call home. I met a whole new group of friends--other dog owners who wake up at the crack of dawn to allow their pups to take advantage of Central Park's off leash hours. Together, we remind ourselves that we don't rescue pets. Pets rescue us."—Tara Derington, who adopted from Dr. Dolittle's Rescue Ranch via Petfinder.com

"When we first went to adopt a dog at a shelter, I deliberately avoided the pit bull breed due to negative media. We ended up adopting Lincoln and were told he was a retriever/labrador mix. A year later, we got his DNA tested and were shocked to learn he is part pit bull and I wouldn't imagine life without our funniest, sweetest, loudest and most intelligent boy. Did I omit well-mannered? He is the first one to greet you when you get home and escorts you to the door as you leave. Lincoln was meant to be a part of our family. No dog will ever appreciate a family more, be more loyal and love you more than a rescue."—Liz and Phil Hughes, who adopted from Norfolk SPCA

"Pico was rescued from the streets of Mexico when he was less than 4 months old. We ‘foster failed' and ended up adopting Pico after only 2 weeks with him. He is the happiest dog you could ever ask for. He is our best companion and lives to make other people happy. He will kiss any baby and will snuggle whoever asks. He's just glad to have a family that loves him and brings him to the beach, the snow, the mountains and everywhere in between. He's an angel on earth."—Taylor Clifton and Dayne Knudson, who adopted from The Animal Pad 

"For only being 12.4 pounds, this little guy makes such a large impact on everyone he meets. Sheldon was found on the streets of Miami and brought to Destiny For Dogs rescue...He became my sidekick and I don't know what we would do without each other. I rescued him and he truly rescued me. I've heard many times over the years about how special of a dog he is and I couldn't agree more. He truly encompasses all of the qualities of a woman's best friend."—Nicki Brower, who adopted from Destiny for Dogs Rescue 

"Having Huey and Bella as pets has improved our lives by bringing so much laughter and crazy into our home. We love sharing their undeniable bond with others via their social media pages. They are a living ‘Mutt and Jeff.'"—Tara Rex, who adopted from Misfits Dog Rescue and Big Bones Rescue

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