Rescue Ink: How Ten Guys Saved Countless Dogs and Cats, Twelve Horses, Five Pigs, One Duck, and a Few Turtles, by Rescue Ink and Denise Flaim
Viking Adult, 2009. 256 pages.
When I picked up Rescue Ink I was apprehensive. It’s a book about a group of muscular, tattooed guys in Long Island who rescue abused and abandoned animals, and I thought I might be in store for heart-wrenching tales of animal cruelty. But the author made a clear effort to focus on the joys of rescue. There is a tremendous amount of suffering in the animal world, the message seems to be, but there is always hope that humans like the men of Rescue Ink will save their dumb friends from their pain.
Not that the book completely avoids the sadder aspects of animal rescue. Indeed, the story of Rescue Ink would not make sense if we had no understanding of the circumstances from which animals are being saved. You read of cats living by the dozens in cramped houses full of feces and urine, riddled with infections. You read of a horse with a missing eye, likely due to a slaughterhouse handler’s calloused attack. You read of a sweet-tempered pit bull used as a dog-fight bait dog whose face was so torn up they named him Ribbon, after his tattered ears. On the human side you read of owners who hoard animals and refuse to give them up, even as their health and the health of their pets decline in poor conditions. You read of people whose dogs are taken from them because of neglect, but who bristle under suggestions about care for future pets, owners who have clearly learned no valuable lessons.
But in each of those cases, at least one animal was saved to go and live a better life. In many cases, a number of animals were saved. The author makes an effort to convey the gravity of the animals’ situations, but does not linger on the details. She explicitly states, “You wouldn’t be read this book if you didn’t love animals.” Supposing her assumption is correct, the readers of this book will not need to be shocked into sadness by graphic detail, and anything more than she described would be gratuitous.
In the end, it is the salvation of the animals that makes what detail is given readable. The saddest chapter in the book tells the story of a woman, “Sally,” terrorized by her neighbor. The neighbor would bait and trap animals, domestic and wild, and kill them, often by torture. He would leave bodies or sometimes just heads on Sally’s porch or in the bed of her truck. Citations for harassment and even jail time did not deter this neighbor. He was approached by Rescue Ink, but ultimately they could do nothing within the boundaries of the law.
That story, set in the middle of the book, likely so as not to deter readers early on nor to depress them at the end, serves as a reminder of the ugliness of the world and the depravity of man. Still, the sadism of that animal-torturer cannot help but be compared with the love and devotion of the men of Rescue Ink. Again, there is hope.
Finally, remember to visit TheAnimalRescueSite.com daily.