A heartwarming story that has gone viral over the past week started when the Omaha-based Nebraska Humane Society took in a 6-year-old husky earlier in October. In the midst of a shelter trend of naming rescues after rock stars, this fuzzy, sweet dog got the name “Bret Michaels” after the hit 80s hair metal band Poison.
When the shelter’s veterinary staff examined Bret the Husky, they noticed that he was losing weight, and gave him a blood test. Then, a few days later, three tiny kittens just a month old came into the shelter covered with fleas. One of those kittens, a male brown-and-white tabby, was so sickly from flea anemia — he was wobbly, weak and lethargic — that vets determined he needed a blood transfusion.
But there was a problem: Cats don’t have a universal blood donor. Sometimes, canine blood is a safer donation for cats than feline blood, and since Bret the dog’s canine blood had been tested, he looked like a good fit. So, the pup became a blood donor through a process called xenotransfusion.
Over the next few days, the kitten started regaining his health and producing blood on his own again. Of course, the baby kitty had to have a name that honored his donor’s rock star namesake, so the shelter staff named him Thorn in homage to Poison’s classic 1988 power ballad “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.”
Bret Michaels the Husky instantly took on hero status within the shelter — and soon, he’d reach a wider audience than ever… including garnering some very special attention.
A fated connection
The shelter shared this sweet interspecies healing story on social media, and animal lovers everywhere cooed. The story then reached one famous animal lover in particular: Rockstar Bret Michaels himself!
The human Bret Michaels had been grieving the recent death of his beloved German shepherd, Phoenix, and when his team saw the shelter’s post, they knew it was meant to be and he immediately contacted the rescue.
In a statement sent to USA Today, Michaels said: ” [When I heard about] Bret Michaels the husky and how he saved the life of Thorn the kitten, I immediately reached out to the Nebraska Humane Society and personally called them to adopt the dog.”
Michaels’ statement continued: “As a longtime Husky & German shepherd rescue parent, I immediately had my good friends at Irondog K9 International bring Bret Jr. to their Georgia ranch (near Atlanta) to ensure he’s healthy and can acclimate as quickly as possible. I could not have been more touched to adopt him and am honored to extend the quality of little Bret Jr.’s life.”
Michaels also shared a statement with People saying, “This story brought a smile back into my family’s life. I work diligently with my family and many people to save and improve the lives of many pets.”
Michaels’ love of animals runs deep. In a 2014 interview with Animal Wellness magazine, Michaels talked about his love for his several German shepherds. “Since the age of 6, I have been struggling with type 1 diabetes, resulting in five injections and 10 blood tests daily, a life-threatening brain hemorrhage, and a recent heart surgery,” Michaels said. “Having my dogs and other animals around me has not only given me unconditional love, but strength and friendship during the low points of my life. There aren’t enough words to express how much that has meant to me and added to my life.”
Bret Michaels the rocker meets Bret Michaels the husky
After Michaels’ call, the shelter staff determined that the two Brets were a perfect fit. On Michaels’ Instagram page, he announced the heartwarming adoption with a series of pictures showing him with his canine BFFs over the years — and gave a sweet shoutout to the shelter, calling the adoption, “an incredible moment that happened at @nehumanesociety.”
Then came a post showing the dog peeking up from behind a counter where a sign with his rock star name was posted, with the caption: “He’s got everything that says — I’m Bret Michaels A Husky and I’ve been adopted by Bret Michaels The Rockstar.”
In another follow-up post with a picture of the happy husky, Michaels said: “My friends – meet li’l Bret Michaels, the husky, and also Roses & Thorn, the kitten he saved along with the incredible human beings & staff that worked so hard to save & improve pet lives. It takes a village of awesomeness & now I have a new mission … to find an incredible home for the kitten!”
After the adoption, the Nebraska Humane Society announced the celebrity match on Facebook and included this witty comment: “We can’t wait to see how he thrives in his new home. We just hope it doesn’t get too confusing when someone tells Bret Michaels to fetch!”
The October 20 post has more than 7,300 likes and 3,300 shares. According to a shelter comment in that post, the veterinarian who did the transfusion is fostering the kittens and they are doing well.
What else Bret Michaels (the rockstar) is up to next
The band Poison, with Michaels as frontman, swept many Gen X teenagers’ hearts starting in the mid-’80s. Still making hits, the band last toured in 2022, in a nostalgic, hard-rocking lineup that included Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. When he’s not adopting an adorable dog, Bret Michaels has also had a successful solo career, and is touring this year.
If you remember Bret’s wild-man persona from back in the day, learning what a devoted dog dad he is might surprise you, and we can’t help but feel all warm and fuzzy when we think about the rocker being a devoted dog dad.
Offstage, we wish Bret and his new pet lots of great chase, fetch and snuggles, and we’re sure both Brets will have “nothin’ but a good time” together!
For more heartwarming dog stories, click through the links below!