Anyone who claims animals can’t feel needs to hear the story of Sammie and Simon the rescue dogs.
Sammie, a 5-month-old boxer mix, was rescued by New York City-based non-profit Rescue Dogs Rock NYC and treated at a veterinary clinic in Columbia, South Carolina.
When Sammie was first taken in by the shelter, he was in bad shape — he had been shot in the head, dragged behind a car and spray-painted, leaving his one of his front legs in need of a skin graft and one of his back legs crushed, according to the organization.
Simon, a 1-year-old Border collie mix who was also an abuse survivor, had been at the same vet for several weeks recovering from a bad case of mange, a skin disease.
When the two first met, it was an unforgettable moment.
Sammie was lying on the X-ray table when Simon was let out of his kennel. He went straight to Sammie and put his paw on the table. The two touched noses.
The dogs seemed to form an instant connection, according to Stacey Silverstein, the cofounder of Rescue Dogs Rock NYC.
“The picture really speaks for itself,” Silverstein told TODAY. “You can see Simon comforting Sammie. It shows that animals have compassion and they feel. Simon would go to Sammie’s kennel to comfort him and play with him and sit with him often.”
Silverstein says the two formed a strong bond while they were at the vet together, with Simon acting as Sammie’s caretaker.
After the rescue posted the photo of Simon and Sammie to their Facebook page, it wasn’t long before their story went viral. It has since been shared over 4,000 times.
Silverstein says she hopes the story will help to raise awareness about the horrific treatment too many animals are forced to endure.
“We want to use this opportunity to educate others across the country,” Silverstein told TODAY.com. “It shows these two very neglected dogs in horrific circumstances comforting each other. Animals feel.”
In the weeks after the photo first made the rounds on the Internet, both dogs received hundreds of applications for adoption.
Sammie still has a ways to go on his road to recovery and has been brought to New York to see the organization’s orthopedic surgeon. They’re hoping to save his back leg from amputation.
Simon, meanwhile, has healed up and was placed in a loving home with a family in New Jersey.
After the dogs bonded, many people had hoped they’d be placed together, but Silverstein said it was unrealistic.
“Sammie still has a long road to recovery,” Silverstein told TODAY. “His condition is still pretty critical. The plan is for the orthopedic surgeon to evaluate him and then whatever needs to be done to save his leg will be done.”
Rescue Dogs Rock NYC is a nonprofit animal rescue focusing on cases of neglect and cruelty. To donate to the organization, go here.