What comes to your mind when you hear the thunderous noise of motorcycles ridden by usually hefty and sometimes beefy men wearing sunglasses and sporting tattoos on their muscular bare arms? You probably think - Whoa - let's get out of their way. Bikers may justifyably have gotten a bad rap in the past, but I think this perception is changing now with recent accounts of their involvement in good works--including serving as honor guards at military funerals or riding their bikes to promote some worthwhile charity.
And so, when Jan, who is the head of the American Chapter of Catholic Concern for Animals (founded in the UK in 1929) sent me the link "RESCUE INK " which sported pictures of 5 very tattooed and ominously-looking men, I just wondered -- what was this all about? I would soon happily find out.
Rescue Ink admits that you may find them hanging out at a hot rod show, tattoo parlors or hitting up the blacktop together on their bikes for a little road trip, but for them the main thing that brings them together is their love of animals. In their spare time they rescue and find homes for abandoned and abused animals. They say they do it because they cannot stand by while anyone mistreats an animal!
I was impressed and couldn't wait to read more. I learned that they try to step in where existing animal welfare agencies cannot because of limited resourses. They also try to augment the work of local shelters who they know cannot possibly address the volume of problems they face daily.
Based in New York, they feel their zero tolerance of abuse and neglect to animals is growing every day from coast to coast --reaching out to more and more who are joining them in their efforts to address abuse or cruelty to animals. They will intercede when informed of abusive situations, and if they cannot convince people to do the right thing, will even buy the abused animal if thats what it takes to stop the abuse.
MIKE TATTOO heads the list of the short bios and photos of these dedicated and committed bikers. Described as scary looking, he nevertheless has a heart of gold. I liked him immediately because he is a strict vegetarian. A former bodybuilding champion, Mike takes care of the needs of his family members and entertains the residents of nursing homes playing guitar in his band. He has a dog, 2 cats and fish.
BATSO loves everything about cars --especially custom made cars. Now retired from auto biz, he still loves to tinker with them. He is also a dedicated martial artist and weight lifter, who holds a Connecticut state record in power lifting. He developed his lifelong love and respect for animals after caring for sheep, goats and poultry. If he can do something to stop an animal from being abused, he will. His closest animal friends now are Inky, a rescued pit bull who had been abandoned and an iguana named George.
BIG ANT is big all right at 6'1" and weighing 320 pounds, but the name "Ant" is puzzling until one realizes it stands for Anthony not the tiny insect. He learned respect for animals from the farms in Italy as well as on the streets of Brooklyn and Queens. His huge size is intimidating, but as a family man with a wife and son, he is known to be caring and helpful. He and his son who shares his love for animals take care of a dog, a cat, a turtle, two rabbits and a well-populated fish tank. All of the animals were rescues. Though he can be warm and funny, he can also be scary if the situation
calls for it. He believes that animal abusers are weak and he will not tolerate them.
GEORGE (G) is a tall, muscular black man who learned compassion early. In his rural Connecticut home, he would use popsicle sticks to set the wings of injured birds. Today he is an industrial firefighter and owns his own landscaping business. He loves the outdoors and naturally loves spending time on his very fast bike. G and his son have spent much time visiting the local ASPCA shelter and dairy farms. Because of this influence, his son now aspires to be a veterinarian. The family owns an English Bulldog and a German Rottweiler. G agrees with Big Ant and says that only weak people are animal abusers.
SAL started early in life with his concern for animals by volunteering his time as a teenager rescuing cats with the Humane Society. Today he has a special fondness for pit bulls, and has been actively involved in their rescue and adoption-- especially those who had been used for fighting. He has found loving homes for scores of these formerly abused dogs. His motto in this regard -- "Only a fool would think dog fighting is cool!" He makes
his living in the high-rise construction industry as a cement worker.
BIAGI is a retired boiler mechanic. He loves to work on bikes and cars and can fix or improve anything which runs with an engine. As for animal rescue, Biagi has spent over 30 years saving dogs with the help of many great rescue groups in NY, NJ, PA, and CT. Although he cares for the welfare of all dogs, he admits that he is a Rottweiler guy and his favorite is his 11-year old Rott, Duke.
ANGEL - the "pet Investigator" has solid credentials after retiring as a detective investigator from the N.Y.P.D. Angel learned to care and respect animals as a youngster spending summers with his family in Puerto Rico. Angel is married with three grown daughters. He loves raising freshwater tropical fish and hanging out with his best pal Cris - a 6-year old Bichon Frise.
DES is the cat expert. He was born in Columbia, South America and came to New York at age nine. At an early age he became interested in playing Judo which led to his study of Kung Fu. Living on the streets of Jamaica Queens, Des learned if you weren't tough you were a victim, and he would prove nobody's victim. He got a motorcycle at age 18 and with it the mobility and freedom to travel beyond his neighborhood. Today with Resue Ink he is considered the resident feline expert. He has dedicated years to the well being of homeless cats in Manhattan. He also ran the TNR (Trap, Neuter, and Return) Shelters and feeding programs.
RON has some pretty amazing skills in Close Quarter Combat Hapkido. He also trained with the Special Forces and is a member of Action Magazine's Martial Arts Hall of Fame. But this Renaissance man will tell you that he is most proud of his accomplishments in caring for and saving animals with independent rescue groups. He also can add to his "animal care" resume
years of work at numerous ranches personally caring for everything from wounded ducks and dogs to mules, horses, and goats.
Now whenever I hear the roar and thunder of motorcycles and see the macho men with bare tatooed arms and wearing sunglasses - whether they are or not a part of RESCUE INK, I will always think of the men described above who along with their love of motorcycles and the open road have found time to address animal cruelty. God bless them. They are truly special people.
Had they been in Grenada, Mississippi in March of this year, I'm sure they would have been in the forefront looking for the dastardly individual (s) who poured either boiling water or a caustic substance on the top of a little dog's head, which rolled around her ears and streamed in a burning path down her back and legs.