People in Peril Find Salvation Through Deep Bonds With Their Pets
A man contemplating suicide never could have dreamed that a four-pound dachshund would save his life. And, the death of a young American soldier shattered the hopes and dreams of the family and fiancée he left behind, but one stray puppy helped put the pieces of their lives back together.
Beginning Monday, November 14, at 8 PM ET/PT, Animal Planet brings viewers SAVED, a six-part series that uplifts spirits and proves that animals have the power to transform human lives. Each story reveals people eclipsed by their darkest hours who then find light and hope in the purest of forms – animals. Some might call it divine intervention; others might call it a miracle as every animal in SAVED gives his/her human family the greatest gift of all: a second chance at life.
“We all have heard stories where animals are heroes in the physical sense, rescuing people from a fire or a near drowning,” says Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of Animal Planet. “The stories that haven’t been told are the ones where animals save us in the emotional sense, and that’s where SAVED comes in. Each story shows how pets extraordinarily bond with their owners, breaking through emotional barriers and giving them new meaning and purpose in life.
“I wouldn’t be alive today if it were not for my dachshund, Sammy Davis,” says Patrick Major of Castro Valley, California, who has been battling illnesses all his life. Born with an incurable bone and muscle disease, Patrick is forced to wear leg braces while he walks. To add to his struggle, Patrick was diagnosed with kidney disease, which drove him into a deep depression, nearly destroying his will to live. In an attempt to boost his spirits, Patrick’s girlfriend pleaded
with him to adopt a dog. In the beginning, Patrick wanted nothing to do with Sammy Davis. However, as time passed, he realized that Sammy Davis was more than just a dog…he was his 2-2-2 -moreguardian angel. Sammy Davis did everything in his power to get Patrick up and out of bed, forcing him to take control of his life.
Army Spc. Justin Rollins was killed in Iraq. But on the last day of his life, he was overjoyed when he and his unit found 15 stray puppies outside an Iraqi police station. The unit snapped photos of themselves with the puppies, which Justin planned to send to Brittney, his fiancée. Unfortunately, he was killed in combat before getting the chance. Shortly after, Brittney received the photos from a unit sergeant’s girlfriend and shared them with Justin’s parents. Seeing Justin smiling with the pups and recognizing his genuine happiness, Justin’s parents and Brittney knew they had to find these puppies and bring one home immediately. But even before receiving the puppy that was going to join her family, Rhonda selected the name – Hero – in honor of Justin’s bravery. “I really believe Justin saved Hero’s life, and in turn, Hero saved us,” says Justin’s mother, Rhonda Rollins. “I wanted that puppy from Iraq. I wanted the one my son held. It’s the last thing that gave him a bit of happiness the night he was killed.”
Other SAVED stories include a Yorkshire terrier that saved a traumatized child in the aftermath of 9/11, as well as a Dalmatian that helped a family cope with the loss of firefighter sons who responded to the attack on the Twin Towers. In addition, episodes of SAVED features a young man who escaped the violence of gang life through a deep love of horses and a veteran whose German shepherd helped him deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.
SAVED is produced by Picture Shack for Animal Planet. George Plamondon, Betsy Schechter and Michael Rosen are executive producers for Picture Shack. For Animal Planet,
SAVED is developed and produced by Vaibhav Bhatt.