About 15 years ago, a group of animal-loving, tattooed bikers in the New York area began acting on behalf of abused animals. The men volunteered at shelters and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Toward Animals, and they tried to solve cases of missing or abused animals that other organizations had neither the time nor the resources to address.
About a year ago, they took up the name Rescue Ink, and now work full time investigating cases of animal abuse. Members of the group recently responded at a site in Elmhurt, Queens, where a caller had reported that five pit bulls were caged in the back of a used-car lot.
The men approached from the back and several of them climbed up a stack of cement slabs to peer over a wall into the lot. In a large enclosure behind a chain-link fence, four pit bulls stared back at them, tails wagging, coats sleek and mouths wide open, like smiling crocodiles.
As it turned out, the dogs were not confined and in fact had ample space. Mike Tattoo (real name Mike Ostrosky), second from left, with Anthony Missano, known as Big Ant, and other members of Rescue Ink, advised the owner of the lot that the dog house, seen against the brick wall, needed more shade.
In the car dealership's garage area, they found a female pit bull with a litter of pups yelping in a room behind her. Nick Maccharoli, who goes by the name Batso, right, rubbed the dog's head, and she wagged her tail. He fed her a treat from his pocket and patted her neck. "Aw,"he said, "she's O.K., she's a good girl."
When members of Rescue Ink reached the dogs' owner by phone, they asked if he needed help placing the puppies. Big Ant adopted one, and the owner agreed to let the bikers take the mother and the other three female dogs to be spayed and returned to him at no cost.
Desi Calderon, who goes by Des, is known as "the Cat Man." He had been carrying the rescued cat everywhere for the past week and a half. "This little guy has to eat every few hours," he said.
Since they started doing this work, two of the Rescue Ink members have lost their construction jobs. They spend their nights researching and making phone calls, and spend fair amounts of money on pet food and vet bills.
Tough Guys and Puppies - The New York Times > N.Y. / Region > Slide Show > Slide 12 of 12