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Published: Apr 25, 2012

Most animal shelters provide basic veterinary care like dog vaccinations and treatment for sick cats, but some go above and beyond to help severely disadvantaged animals live happily ever after.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is a leader in rehabilitating dogs and cats that have been severely injured by natural disasters or animal cruelty. In fact, the ASPCA is the only national animal welfare organization that has an animal behavior team solely for rehabilitating animal victims of violence, The Associated Press reports. According to its official website, it fights animal cruelty that may arise from puppy mills, animal hoarding, dog fighting, the exotic pet trade and more.

The patients in these programs have often been rescued from puppy mills where the conditions led to diseases like mange. Others came from previous dog-fighting rings, where they were either trained to be aggressive or are entirely traumatized from the violence they have experienced, the news outlet reports. Many times, the animal can be "saved" from its past and placed in a pet adoption program.

"Saving depends on your definition," Pamela Reid, an animal behaviorist and vice president of the ASPCA's anti-cruelty behavior team, told the news source. "We certainly save them from cruel and inhumane situations."  VCA Animal Hospitals reports that often these rehabilitated pets require special homes and owners that are capable of providing ongoing intensive training in order for the pet to thrive.