Most of us spend Christmas relaxing and enjoying the company of our loved ones. The people who make up this animal rescue organization, on the other hand, spent their holiday season saving lives.

Hope For Paws in Los Angeles, California, is known for rescuing stray and injured animals, tirelessly working to give them a second chance at life. Rescues like the ones they pull off are hardly ever easy or convenient, but these kindhearted heroes still do it. That’s because they’re dedicated to helping homeless pets find forever homes and live the best lives they can, as demonstrated by the two heartwarming stories below.

Back in November, Hope For Paws volunteers received a call about Gershwin, a dog who’d been hanging around a gas station for two months. They realized pretty quickly that he was afraid of men, so Loreta Frankonyte jumped in and began coaxing the dog toward her with food.

But he was wary of her as well, jerking back as she reached for him. That’s when she decided to take a risk on the big guy.

Ever so gently, she reached for him. When she finally nabbed him, though, the 110-pound dog dragged her like a rag doll.

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