ON THIS DATE in 1937, fifteen-year-old Valentine Holdosi risked his life to rescue his non-human friends during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Forced to flee his Shanghai, China, home during a Japanese attack, he had had no choice but to leave his pets — a German shepherd, a setter, a chicken, and a cage of canaries — behind. But not for long.
After the Russian orphan and his adoptive parents reached relative safety in the suburb of Frenchtown, Holdosi went back for his menagerie, evading Japanese patrols on the way. When he returned to his old home he found the building had been torched and the dogs coated in tar and oil by an animal hater who apparently wished them to catch fire.
With the help of two different police officers who gave them rides, Valentine and his pets reached safety. An editorial in the China Journal stated that, “The courage, resourcefulness and endurance displayed by Valentine Holdosi in the course of this thrilling episode places him amongst the heroes of the Shanghai War of 1937.”