Joe Panz, a New York biker, has been a tough guy all his life. Dangerous situations were part of life where he grew up. One of the worst situations was when he found himself betrayed by those he called friends and running for his life. Before escaping, Joe had been shot five times.
“I couldn’t go to the hospital because that’s the next place they would look for me,” he says. “I knew I had to go home, and I couldn’t depend on anyone for help because I didn’t know who was my friend and who was looking to finish the job.”
Joe did have one loyal ally—his Rottweiler. “They’re very keen dogs and know if something is wrong. That dog watched out for me all night. I knew he would protect me, no matter what, if someone came to the door. My friends turned on me, but I could depend on that dog through thick and thin.”
Things were different after that. Joe had always liked animals, but the loyalty and trust displayed by his Rottweiler in his time of desperate need sealed Joe’s commitment to them. Out of this commitment came Rescue Ink—a group of burly, tattooed bikers dedicated to saving animals from dangerous and abusive situations.
“I’m just paying back the favor,” Joe says.
The group will handle virtually any situation where animals are in danger, from breaking up pit bull fighting rings to assisting hoarders. They’ve helped dogs, cats, horses, ducks, chickens, turtles and even fish.
When necessary, Rescue Ink will pay the perpetrator a visit and re-educate them on their manners. All done within the law, Joe says, “We can be very convincing. Once they meet us, it usually takes care of the situation because they don’t want us coming back.”
Rescue Ink recognizes that abuse is abuse and has a no-nonsense policy. That which often starts or involves animal abuse often bleeds over into more abuse including spousal and child abuse.
“A lot of times we find there’s more going on when we investigate animal cruelty,” Joe says. “Abusers like to hone their skills on animals because they can’t talk and it’s easy to hide. They get more comfortable and turn on other helpless victims like women, children or the elderly. Some use the animal to show a woman what they will do to her if she tries to leave, or they threaten to kill the animal if she tries to go.”
Joe takes this seriously and hopes to break the cycle of violence by educating abusers. “Kids see violence in their neighborhoods and homes, they grow up and act the same way because they get desensitized. We make sure they know the proper way to treat people and animals. We make a good first impression and let them know we’ll be watching. Believe me, they don’t want another visit.”
Rescue Ink has also extended its efforts to educating kids about the humane treatment of animals at inner-city and reform schools in efforts to tackle the cycle at its roots. “We try to instill that you can be tough and still do the right thing,” Joe says.