If there's one thing Disney movies have taught us, it's that domesticated pets have an uncanny knack for surviving in the wild.
The most recent real-world example happened when a car accident along I-75 sent an 11-year old house cat named Sam scurrying into the unforgiving brush of Big Cypress National Preserve.
Here's how Sam the cat endured South Florida's brutal wilderness before getting reunited with his owners, and four other mind-blowing tales of pets surviving against all odds.
5. Shetland sheepdog spends 53 days in Nevada wilderness
In March, Barbara Bagley of Utah was in a horrific car accident in the Nevada desert. The wreck killed Bagley's husband and, according to the Associated Press, left her with two punctured lungs, a shattered wrist, busted ribs, and a concussion. The couple's dog, a Shetland sheepdog named Dooley, bolted from the scene. Dozens of locals mounted a search crew to find the dog in hopes of lifting Bagley's spirits and helping ease the recovery process. After 53 days, a woman on horseback found the emaciated dog a mere five miles from the site of the accident. It apparently survived by dining on a coyote carcass and slurping water from nearby ranches. "I was overjoyed that I was going to have him back in my life. I think he felt the same about me," Bagley told the AP.
4. Pet turtle lives for five years on U.K. river bank
Just because turtles are among the most boring pets doesn't mean people should toss the beasts in the wild after growing tired of their reptilian inertia. But that's what happened to Terry the terrapin, according to Small World News Service. An owner apparently released the hard-shelled critter on the banks of a river in the U.K. somewhere around 2006. A turtle expert said the animal shouldn't have survived the first winter, yet Terry lived for at least five years out in the wild. A photographer who documented the turtle's presence over the years said Terry appeared to be getting bigger with each sighting.
3. Cat hitches ride across three states on a fuel tanker
Back in January of this year, a 6-month-old kitten wedged itself in the space where a fuel tanker connects to a semitrailer. The tiny cat managed to hitch a ride for hundreds of miles, traveling across Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. By chance, an animal rescue worker happened to be at a rest stop in West Chester, Ohio, when she heard the meows of a cat. She searched through the lot and eventually found the adorable ball of fur under the truck. The kitten was named Tanker and put up for adoption.
2. Dog swims through Australia's shark-infested waters
Back in 2011, an Australian cattle dog was tossed off a boat into rough waters. Its owners assumed that the animal, named Sophie Tucker, didn't stand a chance in the choppy, shark-infested ocean, according to Today. But apparently, Sophie is some type of superdog. It swam five nautical miles to a remote island near Australia's Great Barrier Reef and became skilled at hunting baby goats for food. Park rangers said they spent nearly four months trying to trap the dog and were eventually able to reunite it with its owners. According to the owners, Sophie "wriggled around like a mad thing" upon returning home.
1. Sam the cat toughs out Alligator Alley
Last week, Nikki Saltzburg and her family got into a car accident on I-75. The family, including an 11-year-old cat named Samuel Oliver Saltzburg, was moving from Los Angeles to Miami. Sam was in a crate, but the force of the collision sent the container soaring out the window. It shattered when it hit the pavement, and Sam took off into the nearby brush. Two days later, Sam was found hiding in a bush just a few yards from the where the accident happened. Compared with some of these other tales, Sam's survival story doesn't seem that impressive at first. But, as the Sun-Sentinel reported, the area Sam was hiding out in is loaded with predators, including snakes, alligators, and turkey vultures.
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