Our Story

The remarkable trajectory of Mutual Rescue


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Diesel - Kristi Johnson Photography
Photo by Kristi Johnson


The idea for a national nonprofit initiative to benefit both people and homeless companion animals started on June 23, 2015, in the San Francisco Bay Area, when Carol Novello and David Whitman first met—thanks to their friend Sally Hazard Bourgoin.

Marshaling resources, they officially launched Mutual Rescue on February 14, 2016, with an original short film, “Eric & Peety,” and a national call for stories. From hundreds of inspirational stories received, Mutual Rescue judges across the country selected five for filming that season. Several other top contenders were later featured in the book Mutual Rescue: How Adopting a Homeless Animal Can Save You, Too. 

 2021/08/MR-history-photo@3x.jpg Carol Novello, Eric O’Grey, David Whitman, and Sally Hazard Bourgoin in 2016
Carol Novello, Eric O’Grey, David Whitman, and Sally Hazard Bourgoin in 2016

First Film

“Eric & Peety,” Mutual Rescue’s 2016 début documentary short film about Eric O’Grey and his rescue dogs, Peety and Jake, rapidly surpassed 100 million views online. All around the world, it generated conversations, comments, reviews, broadcasts, podcasts, screenings, translations, talks, workshops, interviews, articles, and awards—motivating even more people to adopt companion animals.

In 2016, Mutual Rescue’s “Eric & Peety” was California’s top news-source film, according to The New York Times.

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Mutual Rescue has created 13 short documentary films with more than 153 million total online views; published an influential book; established replicable programs; directed $180,000 in unrestricted cash grants to animal shelters nationwide; inspired greater philanthropic giving to animal-welfare causes; encouraged individuals and businesses to support their community animal shelters through adopting, volunteering, and donating; and motivated innumerable people to embark on their own mutual rescue journeys with a companion animal.

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Mutual Rescue will continue to create original content that encourages people to help homeless companion animals by adopting, volunteering, and donating to animal-welfare organizations in their communities.

We are building our base of corporate support nationally to benefit community animal shelters and rescue groups throughout the country. In the fall of 2022, we will launch a new film series on diverse Mutual Rescue themes, starting with seniors saving seniors.



“Mutual Rescue has proven its capacity to touch souls on a grand scale. This initiative cuts straight to the heart by bringing to light the depth of humanity and deeply transformational connection between two- and four-legged soul mates.”

Tom Corwin, Author, Producer, and Founder, Corwin Creative


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