MORE THAN 1,700 POUNDS OF MUSCLE. OVER 80 TATTOOS.
ONE UNLIKELY MISSION: TO RESCUE HELPLESS, ABANDONED AND ABUSED ANIMALS
Ride Along with Rescue Ink Friday at 10pm EST – They’re tough guys who aren’t afraid to go anywhere or confront anyone to save animals in danger . . .
If you don’t like us from the way we look, we can’t help that. But if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, so stay out of the way.
-Joe Panz, Leader, Rescue Link
(Washington, D.C. – July 29, 2009) In New York’s war on animal abuse, some of the worst offenders are pursued by a group of tattooed motorcycle-riding tough guys on a mission to save animals in danger. They call themselves Rescue Ink, and these are their stories.
In a metropolitan area with more than 20 million residents, thousands of animals – dogs, cats, and even chickens and piranhas – are neglected, abused, hoarded or housed illegally. A few years ago, eight tough guys from the mean streets, who frequented hot rod shows and tattoos parlors, discovered their strongest bond was actually a passion for animals – and they formed a rescue organization like no other. Some have violent and turbulent pasts, complete with run-ins with the law, but all are seeking redemption and solace in their mission to save animals from human abuse.
On Friday, September 25, 2009, at 10 p.m. ET/PT, the National Geographic Channel (NGC) premieres RESCUE INK UNLEASHED, a new weekly series that documents this unlikely group of animal activists on their crusade to save helpless, abandoned and abused animals. Featured on “Ellen” and in The New York Times, this eclectic band of brothers – composed of club bouncers, security guards and even a retired New York Police Department (NYPD) detective – is on call 24/7 to take on cases no one else will. They’re not cops, animals experts or even animal control. They’re just big guys with even bigger hearts and a desire to save animals from deplorable living conditions and abusive or simply misguided owners.
Each one-hour episode of RESCUE INK UNLEASHED takes viewers on “ride-along” as members follow up on leads in the New York metro area. Taking an average of 100 calls a week at their headquarters on Long Island, they jump into their cars – or on their “hogs” – confront alleged animal abusers, rescue fighting dogs, investigate stolen animals and (firmly) encourage owners to give up their pets if it is in the best interest of the animals.
“We are the Army for animals,” comments Big Ant, one of the group’s leaders. With 1,700 pounds of muscle and more than 80 tattoos, the men of Rescue Ink use their size, street smarts and courage to tackle jobs other groups wouldn’t touch. Neither the dangerous nor the disgusting will deter them. Their motto is “Abusers Are Losers!” and they are working hard to establish themselves as a nationally recognized animal welfare organization.
After responding to a call, they assess a situation and, if necessary, foster animals or rely on a network of local experts who share their no-kill philosophy. They have established relationships with the NYPD; Animal Care & Control of New York City; and various experts, veterinarians, organizations and fellow rescue groups with experience in caring for and training distressed, aggressive and skittish animals.
They are make it a priority to bring animals to whatever medical or training facility they need for the best care, especially when it comes to spaying and neutering pets – a cause the guys are very passionate about. And they won’t hesitate to confront people others might be afraid of – such as talking to the neighborhood bully with a loud barking dog or even entering the projects to rescue a hospitalized man’s abandoned pit bulls – to bring peace to a neighborhood and, more importantly, the animal.
RESCUE INK UNLEASHED episodes this season will feature:
- Joe Panz’s fiery, umpire-like confrontation with a Long Island man accused of shooting stray cats on his lawn with a pellet gun. On their first visit, the man seems open to the Rescue Ink team’s help, but when the guys return unannounced, the man calls the police. At the end of day, the team has to walk away from the situation without any resolution – this time around!
- The team chasing hens and a rooster in a suburban Queens neighborhood (“These guys are flying around everywhere!”) and transporting them to a no-kill facility in upstate New York.
- The group’s biggest rescue and adoption effort to date when they encounter a hoarder housing more than 100 cats!!
- Relocating an entire school of illegal “pet” piranhas from a Bronx apartment to a new, legal home at an accredited Long Island aquarium.
- Big Ant making a wheelchair out of spare parts for Brownie, a 6-year-old Dachshund with a slipped disc and medical costs that are taking a toll on her loving family.
- And the story of “Zeus” – a “boxer mix” puppy that his owner kept in a basement filled with the dog’s feces. Big Ant challenges the man on the spot: “Clean it up, go ‘head. ‘Cause you know why? If you do it now, I know it’s done.” But despite the tense beginning, Zeus’ owner learns to become a responsible dog owner, and follow-up visits from the Rescue Ink guys show he is making progress!
The Rescue Ink team of animal advocates is as diverse as their array of tattoos, and includes (in alphabetical order):
- Angel: A retired NYPD detective they call the “Pet Investigator,” Angel says he used to save people from animals-and now he saves animals from people.
- Batso: A 75-year old covered in head-to-toe bat and spiderweb tattoos, Batso is the spiritual father of the group. After losing his son two years ago to Lou Gehrig’s disease, he is committed to living a full life and achieving new goals, like overcoming illiteracy and devoting his life to animals.
- Big Ant: Standing over 6 feet tall and weighing more than 300 pounds, his presence commands respect. Well known in the gearhead community and biker world, he’s reliable for a good laugh and is always thinking of how to make a better life for animals.
- Des: Known as “The Cat Man,” Des is a friend to all felines. Although he grew up in the tough neighborhoods of Jamaica, Queens, where survival included hanging out with a gang, Des’ feline friends have given him a new purpose in life. Whenever there is a “cat-astrophe,” Des is a guy who doesn’t pussyfoot around.
- Eric: At 6 feet and 230 pounds, Eric is a big guy who surprises people with his little dogs, a couple of Min-Pins-and, of course, he has a Rottie to keep them company. With security and crowd control experience, Eric is a voice that people listen to, and he can be very persuasive.
- G: A 275-pound speed demon, George-better known a “G” – is a former industrial firefighter who enjoys life on the edge. He takes a stern approach to training-whether he’s teaching his son (“Q”) about sports or transforming an abused dog into a house pet-but his tough love tactics belie his soft heart.
- Joe Panz: At 6-feet-2 and 250 pounds, Joe Panz is the guy you want on your side in a fight. With six bullet holes to prove it, he has led a tough life, but is now finding animal rescue his most productive outlet. As far as he’s concerned, it’s his job in this life to protect the weak, and cruelty can fire up his temper.
- Johnny O: At 6 feet and 220 pounds, Johnny O is a former bodyguard, mixed martial arts fighter and personal trainer who had dedicated himself to staying clean and sober after years of substance abuse and trouble with the law. Today he is a model of self-discipline who loves all dogs, but his favorites are his pit bulls Lucy and Chuck!
For more information, visit natgeotv.com/rescueink!
RESCUE INK UNLEASHED is produced by National Geographic Television for the National Geographic Channel. For National Geographic Television, SVP of series is Kathy Davidov, executive producer is Kim Woodard, and series producers are George Kralovansky and Melissa Hetzner. For the National Geographic Channel, executive producer is Ashley Hoppin, SVP production is Juliet Blake and executive vice president of content is Steve Burns.