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Gambino enforcer abandons life of crime to save animals with Brooklyn shelter

Discussion in 'Other Dogs in the News' started by Michele, Jul 17, 2017.

  1. Michele

    Michele Chi Super Dog Staff Member Super Moderator

    Gambino enforcer abandons life of crime to save animals with Brooklyn shelter
    Gambino enforcer abandons life of crime to save animals
    BY Noah Goldberg Larry Mcshane

    James Giuliani takes a photo with a raccoon at Keno's Animal Sanctuary in Bensonhurst on Friday.
    (Jeff Bachner/for New York Daily News)
    Noah GoldbergLarry Mcshane
    Sunday, July 16, 2017, 9:54 PM
    Animal rescuer James Giuliani’s bite is worse than his bark — at least it used to be.

    The one-time Gambino family enforcer swore off the mob life long ago to instead save the lives of Brooklyn’s animal population in his secret shelter deep in the heart of Bensonhurst.

    “Back in the day I would’ve killed someone,” Giuliani tells a visitor inside the perpetually hectic world of Keno’s Animal Sanctuary. “Now I enjoy life. I enjoy being alive.”

    And yet Giuliani, aka “Dogfella,” hasn’t gone entirely straight. By taking in wildlife at his operation, he’s violating city regulations.

    NYC animal care aides to offer $1,000 reward for return of bunny

    The current population is 52 critters, and not just cats and dogs. Lizards, tortoises, birds, squirrels, possums and raccoons fill out the roster. (The last three are on the city list of animals that are illegal to keep as pets.)

    He’s also rescued a smattering of pigs. Some escaped from local butchers with their necks half cut.

    James Giuliani interacts with dogs at Keno's Animal Sanctuary in Bensonhurst on Friday.
    (Jeff Bachner/for New York Daily News)
    Giuliani, 50, sees his job as a calling that he cannot ignore, like the oath taken by a Mafia made man.

    “When I got into this, I didn’t want to do it at all,” he admits. “Who the f--k wants to do this? Would I rather be at the beach in Puerto Rico? Of course. But I gotta do this.”

    NYC shelter placed 94% of its animals in new homes

    Giuliani is proud of the scars on his face and his hands, each one evidence of his rescue efforts since 2013. He boasts that his last day off came 1,160 days ago, making him the Cal Ripken Jr. of animal rescue.

    He sleeps three hours a night. He walks his dogs in the middle of the night. He works 18 hours a day. He always leaves his car trunk open.

    James Giuliani holds a pair of raccoons.
    (Jeff Bachner/for New York Daily News)
    He might be crazy.

    “I have an addictive personality,” Giuliani says.

    “But now I have an addictive personality toward my passion. You gotta find something in your life. You gotta love it. If I don’t do this, nobody will.”

    Bensonhurst served as a breeding ground for generations of gangsters, from boss Carlo Gambino to infamous informant Salvatore (Sammy Bull) Gravano to remorseless mob killer Greg (The Grim Reaper) Scarpa.

    Giuliani now walks the same streets looking to help, not harm — a far cry from the days when he was busted for conspiracy to commit hijacking, kidnapping and armed robbery.

    Turtles are among animals under the care of James Giuliani, a former mob enforcer. He now runs an animal shelter in Brooklyn. “Back in the day I would’ve killed someone,” Giuliani said.
    (Jeff Bachner/for New York Daily News)
    There’s an unavoidable parallel between Giuliani and his animal clientele. Like his pit bulls, he is stocky, strong and dangerous.

    Giuliani recalls the days when he would rob, steal, fight, snort cocaine, drink and go out on 96-hour benders.

    “Maybe I see my animals like me, grew up and never had a chance,” reflects Giuliani, who says he downed his last drink 14 years ago. “Maybe that’s why I do it.”

    His current drinks of choice: espressos (15 cups a day) and water (20 bottles a day). The caffeine helps keep him going.

    “I rescue, no joke, 60 to 100 raccoons a year,” he declares. “About 30 to 60 possums.”

    The rescued wildlife find refuge in the sanctuary basement, one floor down from the dogs wandering free upstairs.


    The possums and squirrels are kept in cages. The raccoons are kept in cages with the locks taped over, because they can use their tiny hands to unhinge the locks.

    One of Giuliani's furry pals interacts with the former mob enforcer on Friday. (Jeff Bachner/for New York Daily News)

    Unimpressed city officials said they planned to investigate the animal sanctuary.

    “The Health Department regulates shelters to ensure animal safety,” said a spokesman for the department. “We will look into this.”

    Dr. Salvatore Pernice, 54, serves as the veterinarian for Keno’s animals. He is Giuliani’s polar opposite: calm, short, slow and deliberate with his choice of words.

    James Giuliani talks passionately about his shelter Keno's Animal Sanctuary in Bensonhurst on Friday.
    (Jeff Bachner/for New York Daily News)
    “James is an extremist, but sincere,” explains Pernice. “He’s honest, dedicated, loud, opinionated. His is a story of redemption — what he did then and what he does now.”

    A plain white mug with black lettering sits in the sanctuary bathroom, offering a question: “Who Rescued Who?” Nobody knows the answer better than Giuliani.

    “I want to make a difference,” he explains. “I want to leave a legacy.”

  2. Worg

    Worg Little Dog

    He looks a little like Mike Rowe :P
  3. APBT Courage at its Best

    APBT Courage at its Best Little Dog Premium Member

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