Welcome to the online press kit for Mutual Rescue™
Inspire Nationally, Rescue Locally
Mutual Rescue™ celebrates how people and pets save each other, producing viral short films and inspiring people to support and engage with local shelters
While great strides have been made in saving homeless animals’ lives, more than 6.5 million cats and dogs still enter animal shelters each year — and 1.5 million are euthanized. Of the roughly $410 billion Americans give to charities, only three percent goes to animal-related and environmental causes combined. Mutual Rescue is a national initiative dedicated to expanding the conversation around animal welfare from “people or animals” to “people and animals.”
“Mutual Rescue came about because people were asking me, ‘Why are you helping animals when you could be helping people?’” says Carol Novello, who founded the effort in 2015 under the auspices of Humane Society Silicon Valley, one of the nation's foremost animal rescue organizations. “So, I started sharing stories that demonstrated how animals were really impacting and transforming people’s lives.”
Carol joined forces with David Whitman — an executive producer who coined the phrase “mutual rescue” — and the team created a series of films, bringing to life what it means to rescue an animal and be rescued right back. The films have been viewed over 153 million times, and Mutual Rescue has expanded to include an upcoming book along with a nationwide community of shelters with innovative programs that bring animals and people together.
Watch “Mutual Rescue: Our Story,” Mutual Rescue’s origin story.
Mutual Rescue Films
In a world marked by human and animal suffering, millions of “unwanted” companion animals housed in shelters offer a key to healing and enriching lives. Mutual Rescue films highlight the connection between people and pets.
“When people watch our films, it reminds them just how powerful having an animal in your life can be,” Carol says. “We realized we had a real opportunity to inspire people to engage more with their local shelters for the benefit of both.”
“Bhuvana & Abhishek & Lollipop”
Bhuvana and Abhishek’s marriage hit unexpected turbulence that caused them to drift apart, until a homeless kitten named Lollipop touched their hearts and guided them to a safe harbor.
“Jade & Trubs”
An unadoptable cat with a chronic illness and an autistic girl form an instant and unexpected bond.
“Eric & Peety”
He weighed 340 pounds and was diagnosed with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and Type 2 Diabetes. His doctor told him he had 5 years to live. Then he met a shelter dog who changed everything.
“Josh & Scout”
We follow a young soldier from a battlefield in Iraq – where he sustained traumatic injuries – to Fort Riley, Kansas. There, an unlikely savior appears to save him from taking his own life and lead him into a life he never imagined possible.
“Kylie & Liza”
In her final days, a young girl with cancer was comforted by a rescue kitten. The kitten then intuitively comforted the grieving family after Kylie’s passing.
“Tracy & Jack”
When a woman and a dog separately suffered extreme injuries, they managed to heal each other. The dog’s positive attitude and spirit helped her along her own road to recovery.
“Jessi & Andi”
A boyfriend’s unexpected suicide casts a young woman into a downward spiral of anxiety and depression. A puppy at a local shelter helped her find a path to a brighter future.
“Mike & Abbie”
When everything in his world collapsed around him, a young man found a shy kelpie pup traumatized from having been abandoned on a busy highway. Together they embarked on a remarkable journey of recovery that resulted in travel, accolades, and joy.
“Still Yours” and “Silent Paws”
For everyone who has loved and lost an animal companion, Mutual Rescue created two tribute films that feature the work of more than 40 respected artists, including Carol Guzy, a four-time Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, and Grammy winning composer Christopher Tin.
“Patrick & Grace”
After taking in an abused pit bull, a young competitive athlete suffers a debilitating stroke. This is the story of a strong dog and strong man building each other back up.
“Sarah & Domino”
A young woman’s chronic pain led her to become addicted to drugs. Rescuing a neglected dog became a catalyst for change in her own life.
“Kim & Brian & Lana” A young couple is devastated by the death of their newborn baby. Adopting a German shepherd mix gave them an outlet for their grief and helped the couple bond again.
The Mutual Rescue Book
“Mutual Rescue: How Adopting a Homeless Animal Can Save You, Too” (April 2019)
Inspired by her own personal experience and years in the animal-welfare industry, author Carol Novello shares real-life stories of how companion animals can help relieve a range of troubles — and the scientific research that proves it. In a recent survey, 60 percent of doctors said they prescribe pet adoption, and a staggering 97 percent believe pet ownership provides health benefits.
The book is divided up into four sections: heart, body, mind, and connection.
Heart shares stories of people whose rescue animals have helped them face inconceivable trauma and grief, and provided the strength they needed to find their way forward. One story is about how trained therapy dogs helped the survivors of the 2018 mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Supporting studies show that pets help people stay calmer in the face of stress, build people’s confidence about their ability to attain life goals, and serve as a safe haven that can provide comfort in times of need.
Body shares stories of people who’ve learned that adopting a cat or dog can not only helps them become healthier, but also helps them cope with and recover from physical illnesses and injuries and shows them how to thrive in spite of their disabilities. One story is about how a commitment to the well-being of a six-year-old rescued golden retriever helped a young man lose 30 pounds, give up partying, and lead a healthier life. The healthy influence of pets is supported by many studies, such as those on heart health that show a correlation between pets and improved cardiovascular health, including lower blood pressure and reduced stress.
Mind shows how rescue animals can actually save people coping with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), offering them hope, helping them create healthier patterns of thought, and leading them toward lives filled with meaning and compassion. One story is about a strapping thirty-eight-year-old heroic fireman who was lost and depressed following a series of strokes. He rescues a dog from Afghanistan who helps him live life fully again. Supporting research shows that interacting with a pet increases the brain's level of serotonin, a hormone that helps fight depression.
Connection reveals how pets can strengthen relationships with the people we love; how we can bond deeply with many types of animals – not just cats and dogs; and how, when rescue pets make people healthier and happier, something remarkable can happen. One story is about a young couple, devastated by the death of their newborn baby, who adopts a German shepherd mix that gave them an outlet for their grief and helped them bond again. Supporting studies in this area show that our ability to relate to others, including significant others, is improved with pets.
Mutual Rescue Programs
“We want to create national awareness and marketing programs that help inspire action at the local level,” Carol says. “That can come through attending a film festival; it can come from doing a Doggy Day Out; it can come from purchasing a product that is part of a corporate sponsorship.”
Film Festivals: Groups such as Foothills Animal Shelter in Golden, CO, hold events to celebrate the release of Mutual Rescue films to inspire and engage their communities. “Good animal welfare is good for pets, it’s good for people, and it’s good for the community,” said Richard Eveleigh, the organization’s former executive director. “The unique and very important message that Mutual Rescue gives is all about the human-animal bond.”
Doggy Day Out: Mutual Rescue Doggy Day Out encourages people to take dogs from local shelters on outings for recreation and exercise. These outings help shelter dogs manage kennel stress, burn off energy, and get more exposure in their communities. The program has proven wildly popular with volunteers and has grown rapidly with dozens of programs in states all across America.
Moving forward, says Carol Novello, “Our vision is that Mutual Rescue will become a worldwide brand that will inspire people all across the globe to adopt, donate, and volunteer, ultimately creating happier, healthier lives for more people and animals.”
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PRESS RELEASE 4/9/19 Mutual Rescue™ Founder Authors Book About How Adopting Animals Transforms Human Lives
To learn more, visit www.MutualRescue.org and subscribe to the Mutual Rescue YouTube channel.