They lived through very different ordeals, including being trapped in a well, swimming desperately for help and enduring the rubble of a devastating earthquake. But as we put together a list of our favorite rescued animals from 2016, we noticed one thread they each have in common: They’re all amazing stories of survival. 

We’re recounting their tales — and filling you in on a few updates — below.

Hero Officer Saves Dog Hit by Train

If it hadn’t been for Amtrak Police Officer Kevin McMullen, it’s unlikely “Miracle” Molly would have made it. McMullen got a call from dispatchers in January saying engineers had spotted a dog in the Baltimore train tunnel system. McMullen tracked her down just in time. The mini Pit Bull had lost a hind leg and more than half of her blood. The officer rushed her to the BARCS shelter, where she had lifesaving surgery. When he visited her a week later, Molly clearly remembered her hero and smothered him with grateful kisses. Despite already having three other dogs at home, McMullen’s girlfriend, Claire, recognized their strong bond, and they added Molly to their family. In an update last month that the shelter shared on Facebook, Claire said that Molly and McMullen now visit schools to teach children how to safely interact with dogs. — Read it from BARCS Baltimore via Facebook

Cat Found Swimming in Lake

Splash rests happily in her rescuer's home, where she's working on warming up to her new brother and sister.

Denise Vhalos was out for a ride on a pontoon boat in an Arizona lake with her boyfriend in October when they were approached by two people on WaveRunners — who’d found a cat in the water. Vhalos, who has two cats of her own, didn’t hesitate to take the gray-and-white cat in. She named the cat Splash and warmed her up with a beach towel before giving her the guest room at her house. With the help of her veterinarian, Vhalos nursed the shocked cat back to health. Splash is “extremely loving” with Vhalos, but she’s making slow progress in getting used to the other two young cats in the house. Vhalos continues to try to find Splash’s original owner but tells us, “As for now, little Splash is safe, has her own room, toys to play with, her very own scratching post, litterbox and water bowl to play in. She also has an adopted sister and brother that seem very interested in getting to know her.” — Read it at Arizona’s 12 News

Dog Trapped for 9 Days in Earthquake Rubble

When a couple in Villa San Lorenza a Flavione, Italy, returned to what was left of their home after an August earthquake that killed 300 people, they started calling for their Golden Retriever. Despite nine days of being buried in what remained of their home, Romeo barked in return. Firefighters helped them dig through the debris to get to their dog and pulled him out safely. The inspirational rescue was deemed a “sign of hope” by the newspaper Latina Quotidiano. — Read it at ABC News

Dog Falls Overboard From Ferry

In August, passengers and crew on board an Island Queen ferry headed to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, from Cape Cod were surprised to spot a Spaniel about a mile offshore. The ferry started to circle the dog, and two Coast Guard officers on board attempted to rescue her — but the dog was scared by the size of the 125-foot vessel and kept swimming away from it, the company said in a Facebook post. So the captain sounded the horn five times as a danger signal, and a recreational boater arrived on the scene to help. The ferry passengers and crew cheered as the boaters pulled the dog on board. It turned out that the dog, Chesney, had fallen off of another passing ferry, and her family was alerting the captain at the time that she was located. Luckily, she was reunited with her relieved family later that day. — Read it at the Cape Cod Times

Lost Lab Survives 27 Days in a Well

Bruno the chocolate Lab is recovering after being trapped in a well for 27 days.

Bruno, a 7-year-old chocolate Labrador Retriever, was missing for nearly four weeks when his family discovered him trapped at the bottom of a 10-foot well — thanks to one of his family’s two other dogs. They were out for a walk near their Saskatchewan, Canada, home in October when Esme, who’s also a Lab, stopped and refused to move. As it turned out, she was showing them the spot where Bruno had fallen into the well. Bruno’s owners, John and Cindy Billesberger, got the emaciated dog out of his predicament and rushed him to the vet. After a month of treatment at the veterinary hospital for dehydration and deep rashes, Bruno finally got to go home in November. From the updates on Bruno’s Facebook page, it looks like he’s still getting used to being part of the pack again, and he’s enjoying lots of snuggles and TLC from his people. — Read it at the Huffington Post

Heroic Shelter Dog Rescues Cat

Leopard, a 6-year-old Shar-Pei mix, was out for a walk with a volunteer at the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter in Ohio in November when she suddenly stopped in front of a sewer grate and wouldn’t budge. The volunteer listened closely and heard the faint sound of a kitten’s cries coming from below. The volunteer called for help, and deputies and other shelter volunteers saved the kitten from the drain. The kitten has been adopted and is staying at the home of a shelter volunteer. And now Leopard has her own happy ending. A longtimer at the shelter, the hero dog was adopted on Dec. 2, just in time to spend the holidays in the loving home she deserves. “She came in the house and sniffed over everything and then did a playful little dance,” her new owner reports. “So cute and such a sweetie pie.” — Read it at Ohio’s Fox 6 Now

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