In the summer of 2015, the paths of Carol Novello and David Whitman crossed at a Bay Area café, thanks to their mutual colleague Sally Hazard Bourgoin. Their first conversation centered on the fascinating connections between animals and people, and subsequently sparked a new national initiative: Mutual Rescue.
Mutual Rescue’s purpose was to challenge a commonly held misconception about animal-welfare philanthropy—that gifts to animal shelters and rescue organizations reduce charitable giving to organizations benefiting people, and that the two causes are somehow mutually exclusive. Mutual Rescue aims to change the conversation from “people or animals” to “people and animals.”
Through sharing authentic stories in film and print, Mutual Rescue presents compelling evidence that when people adopt animals, their own lives are often dramatically transformed in positive ways as well. Extrapolating that powerful dynamic, entire communities also benefit immensely through greater compassion for all beings.
Mutual Rescue was established in 2015 under the auspices of one of the nation’s foremost animal community centers, Humane Society Silicon Valley. Initial financial support came from Timi and John M. Sobrato and Sue and John Diekman, the founding sponsors of Mutual Rescue.
To encourage people to submit their personal stories, Mutual Rescue partnered with an award-winning agency based in Chicago, Advocate Creative, to create a pilot film called “Eric & Peety.” Originally posted on Valentine’s Day 2016 as a tribute to the love between people and their animal companions, “Eric & Peety” inspired some 400 submissions during the Call for Mutual Rescue Stories in the spring of 2016.
Since then, tens of millions of people around the world have watched “Eric & Peety.” The remarkable account of Eric O’Grey and his two adopted dogs has generated an international cascade of comments and responses, social-media shares, articles, reviews, television broadcasts, podcasts, film festival awards, and a future book. It has also attracted the support of donors, sponsors, and volunteers who see Mutual Rescue as an innovative agent of change.
Carol Novello, Co-Creator of Mutual Rescue, speaks about the national initiative to help animals and people, and the viral story of Eric & Peety.
Through its efforts, Mutual Rescue hopes to illustrate that helping animals also helps people—often in miraculous ways.