Del did help launch Rescue Ink's feral cat, trap, neuter, and return program. And Angel, a retired NYPD detective with a beloved tiny Bichon Fries (the canine equivalent of a powder puff), is the mastermind behind the investigations that play an important part in Rescue Ink's efforts. In fact, after their downtown Manhattan photo shoot, the group is heading over to the office of famed New York private investigator Vinnie Parco to look at some new surveillance equipment. "We do surveillance and are very careful. We check everything. We've got to be careful when it comes to complaints," says Mike, who estimates that about one quarter of the group's abuse calls are false alarms. "A typical animal rescue is done by a lady or a smaller guy with a huge heart. But with some people abusing animals, if they don't kill you, they're going to abuse you. We do what we need to do. So when we approach abusers, we ask them if they want to work with us or if they want to be a tough guy." Sure enough, they've confronted their fair share of tough guys. Prying those details out of the Rescue crew is tough as the team is careful to keep their crazier stories to themselves. When the subject of violence does come up, Johnny O, the martial arts expert and former bodyguard, helps to clarify, all without giving away too much. "It can get violent," he says while walking Lucy, his rescued pitbull. "We make sure it doesn't.
"That's an old war story."
George is joking about the impressive scar on the back of his shaved head while on hisway to the group's Manhattan photo shoot. He never explains the scar or where it came from. When it comes to their pasts, these guys don't share much and when they do, it's typically obscure, often hilarious. "I had a pitchfork stuck in my leg," says Batso. "A girl did it."
Batso turns the discussion to his custom-built Batmobile and the giant metal bat in his front yard - he likes bats, hence the name - before mentioning how he first met his banker wife when she was 19; he was 47. "When I first went to the bank with her," Batso says, "she said ‘behave yourself.'"
"They didn't know if it was his wife or if he was holding her hostage," George laughs.
Between jokes during their downtown photo shoot, the members of Rescue Ink interact with a pack of dogs from a Brooklyn Animal Care and Control shelter. It's one of the few times you'll see their hard exteriors soften a little. This is their mission.
"We have to do it," Mike says as he watches his fellow Rescue Inkers mix with the dogs. "How can you not?"
As if on cue, Batso runs over. He of the giant bat on his front lawn and the Fu Manchu mustache and the ear tattoos and the pitchfork in his leg; that Batso. He comes over holding a tiny pitbull puppy under his chin. And just like that, you can actually see the old guy's heart melting. "Mike," he yells. "I'm taking this dog home."