These Pets, Including Two ‘Teen Moms,’ Overcame Rough Beginnings to Bring Laughter to Forever Homes

Few things can make a person happier than seeing their pet grinning at them, especially if they can capture that moment on camera! The Miles of Smiles Photo & Story Challenge celebrates moments like that. Users submitted snapshots and tales of their pets, and our panel of judges has narrowed the field down to 25 finalists.

Three grand prize winners will take home a $500 cash prize, as well as $2,000 in cash and supplies for their favorite shelter. That’s certainly something to smile about! Here are five of our finalists.

Mia, Supporting LabAdore Retrievers Rescue, Inc.

Mia was hit by a car when she was just 3-months-old. Unable to use her back legs to walk, she was dumped a couple days later at a shelter in Louisiana to be euthanized. The shelter recognized this sweet girl’s determination and immediately contacted LabAdore Retriever Rescue to save this loving pup. It was arranged to quickly transport Mia to Texas where a vet repaired her two broken femurs. Mia has been on the move ever since.


When I first met Mia, I fell in love. When I was finally able to bring her home, she settled right in and was immediately on the go. She loves to swim, play with her older sisters and all of her doggie friends.

Most of all, it takes one look from Mia and she raises your spirits. Despite her rough beginnings, she loves people more than anything. I truly believe she knows people saved her and she wants to show that love back. She can get a belly rub with a big grin from anyone, anywhere, and I guarantee her smile will bring a smile to you, too!

Story submitted by Jacque Lutz.

Mina, Supporting Handsome Dan’s Rescue for Pit Bull Type Dogs

Hi all. My name is Palomina but you can call me Mina. I came from a high kill shelter in Arizona where I was literally minutes away from being euthanized!! I traveled all the way to Rhode Island where I met many families, but they were scared because of how big I am (Mom and Dad say I’m part dinosaur and part American Bulldog)!


I finally found this great family with a fenced in yard who agreed to foster me, but they were nervous because of their indoor cats but I loved them! I went on meet and greets but I just wanted to go home to my foster parents, and then one day they told me I was staying forever, and life has been wonderful!

Dad calls me a dirt dog because I love to roll, especially after Mom gives me a bath, but she laughs. I’m very lucky to find my forever family. Always remember to adopt don’t shop, but also to pay attention to the shy ones, the scared ones, and the really big ones. They need homes, too!

Story submitted by Jessica Fisher.

Oreo, Supporting Good Mews Animal Foundation

Oreo came to us very unconventionally. My mom adopted her from Paulding County Animal Control last year, but due to some unforeseen circumstances, what was supposed to be a few weeks of pet-sitting Oreo turned into a permanent assignment. When my mom realized she would not be able to keep Oreo, she was heartbroken.

My boyfriend and I had no plans to have a pet, so my mom was not sure what would happen to this kitty. We told her there was no question that Oreo would become a part of our family – we were too attached to let her go! I truly cannot imagine our lives without this cat. She is sweet, goofy, and was a huge part of keeping us sane during quarantine.


Whether it is letting my boyfriend carry her around like a furry baby, giving us sandpaper kisses when we get home from work, or zooming around the house after her favorite toy (a tiny plush beach ball that is not even a cat toy, of course), she makes every day an adventure and has truly awoken the crazy cat parents within both of us.

Story submitted by Chelsea Harmon.

Patches, Supporting Green Street Rescue

Patches had been on the street for a year-and-a-half when she was rescued by Philadelphia ACCT, abandoned and pregnant. She had her kittens, which were adopted, and she became available as a pet. Despite her long time on the streets, she is the most people friendly cat I have ever had.


As soon as I stir in bed in the morning, she bounds up to start the day. She follows me around the house and carries on chirping conversation. She took wonderfully to being a house cat, but some of the street didn’t leave her. She displaced the plants in my kitchen window flower box and prefers to use that instead of the expensive corn litter in the house.

Story submitted by Muriel Kirkpatrick.

Roxy, for Good Mews Animal Foundation

Roxy is thoroughly entertaining. She was a very young mother, pregnant with her second litter when the shelter took her in. She was a tiny thing at 5 pounds and birthed five kittens. After her babies were born, she was spayed and also had to receive extensive dental work for severe dental disease. She only has her four canine teeth, yet that doesn’t stop her from chowing down on dry food (she refuses wet).


Roxy holds an enormous personality in her tiny body. She LOVES to talk. She’s very demanding and will cuss at us when she feels her demands are not bring met. She loves to chase her older brother and sister around and boss them. She’s a master of zoomies and makes us laugh endlessly when she goes on a tear all around the house, attacking toy mousies and rugs.

I’ve never had a cat who enjoys her entire face being rubbed like Roxy does. She gets the loudest purr and her drooling is for the record books. I guess with only four teeth she just can’t hold it in!

Story submitted by Elizabeth Finch.

These are just five of the Miles of Smiles finalists. There are 20 others. To hear more of their stories, click here!

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