Robert Misseri is one of the key creators of Rescue Ink, the tough-talking team of tattoo’d guys last seen on TV’s National Geographic Channel (and in a best-selling book) proving that tough guys have a tender spot for animals in need. The musclebound, motorcycle-riding members of Rescue Ink proved beyond a shadow of a doubt what Misseri has known since childhood, when he would bring home dozens of strays: animal rescue is cool.
After recently resigning as the group’s president, Misseri and other former members of Rescue Ink decided to realize a more global vision of animal rescue. So they started a not-for-profit organization called Guardians of Rescue.
You’ll see some familiar faces: Remember Batso, the former father figure of Rescue Ink? Now he’s the spiritual healer of Guardians of Rescue, and his goal is to extend the group’s mission all the way to China, where he’s seen first-hand the terrible cruelty suffered by animals. As for Eric Olsen, formerly Rescue Ink’s big champion of little dogs, he’s now a Guardian working closely with sheriffs’ departments around the country, to combat gang and dogfighting activity.
Guardians of Rescue welcomes cool people from all walks, not just bikers: In addition to former Rescue Ink members, the Guardians include women, kids, even former law enforcement officers. On the Guardians team are former agents from the FBI, Homeland Security, and the Department of the Interior.
One of Misseri’s mottos, as expressed in Rescue Ink the book, is: “Today Long Island, tomorrow the world.” That sums up the Guardians’ vision of rescue: international rather than local. As Misseri likes to say, “The movement is on!” And anyone who agrees with him can wear a handsome logo T shirt, available for sale here.
As you’ll see on the Guardians of Rescue Facebook fan page, the group plans an impressive list of ambitious projects, all designed to raise awareness of how people and animals are a naturally symbiotic combination. The Guardians’ mission is as much about rehabilitating people (by training them to show basic compassion toanimals) as it is about rehabbing and training abandoned, abused dogs.
“We live in a society where out treatment of animals is still in the dark ages,” Misseri says. “Dogs can’t call 911, so we want to create a stigma that being cruel to an animals is not socially acceptable.” The Guardians’ motto – “People Helping Animals, Animals Helping People” – says it all. Guardians of Rescue promises to make a real difference in the lives of animals all over the country – and, in doing so, to make our country a more humane place overall, a place where people and pets are treated with equal kindness.
More than proving that real men rescue animals in distress, Guardians of Rescue argues the case that compassion for animals is vital to a strong, healthy social fabric. When we as Americans care for homeless pets and other animals in need, we are actually casting our vote for a kinder, gentler societywhere everyone has an inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness, whether they walk on four legs or two. And so, Guardians of Rescue ultimately plans to have a chapter in every state (so far, it has chapters in Connecticut, Georgia, and Canada in addition to its New York HQ).
Instead of shining the spotlight on its own group members, Guardians is content to stay in the background, putting itsfocus firmly on the people and animals it’s trying to help. That’s characteristic of Misseri’s modest,no-nonsense personality. “Our programs are unique,” Misseri says. “And although we still have an in-your-face approach, we spend most of our time working with people and their animals, behind the scenes.”
Helping a young man with a terminal illness obtain a service dog to help him perform everyday tasks… finding foster homes for the dogs of American servicemen deployed overseas, and sending them photographs of their beloved pets, to keep their spirits high… reuniting our soldiers with the brave dogs who kept them company in combat, so they wouldn’t experience the heartbreak of leaving thembehind in, say, war-torn Afghanistan… combating pet stores and the puppy mills that supply them by sprucing up down-at-heels animal shelters with makeovers, so these sad-looking municipal facilities become their communites’ cheerful, go-to places to adopt a family pet… working with Social Services to help a family that had fallen on hard times (their onlyshelter was their car) find permanent housing for themselves and their two beloved dogs… patrolling neighborhoods for evidence of dogs left outdoors without shelter… helping homebound elderly people get their pets seen regularly by a vet… these are just a few of the top priorities for Guardians of Rescue.
Another priority project is Guardian Kids. “It’s a movement of young people setting an example for other kids across our country and in Canada, that it’s cool to showanimals kindness instead of cruelty,” Misseri explains. “We all hear stories of kids doing terrible stuff to animals. But if we can prevent that, we could be preventing a Jeffrey Dahmer.”
Misseri sees Guardians of Rescueas having an impact on a par with the pink ribbon initiative against cancer. “As we get more people involved, it will become a movement,” he promises. “It’ll be similar to what Susan Komen did for breast cancer.” As a longtime animal rescer, I’m proud to wear a Guardians T-shirt andget behindtheir innovative programs. To learn more about Guardians of Rescue and to get involved, go here.