Beefcake and furballs -- what a killer "no-kill" combo.
A dozen New York area men are featured with their rescued rabbits, cats and mutts in a new charity calendar designed to raise money for pet rescues in the city -- and urge people to "adopt/don't shop" for homeless animals, many of whom are on death row and desperate for loving homes.
The 2015 Tails of NYC RescueMen calendar, which sells for $15 at rescuemen.org, was produced by two animal welfare charities, Pillows for Paws and Grandpa Dave's, which are donating profits to NYC Animal Care and Control for animal enrichment programs. The hunks they approached to pose instantly embraced their "gimme shelter -- animals" mission.
"You get the same amount of love and loyalty from a rescued animal that you do from a pure bred," noted Matan Gavish, who posed with his ASPCA rescue cat, Valentino.
Adopting an unwanted animal is a far more ethical choice than buying one because "there's a lot of exploitation" of animals by breeders (puppy mills, abuse, hereditary defects, litter culling, etc.), noted Gavish, 33, who founded NYC's Krav Maga Academy and lives on the Upper East Side. Luckily, many rescue organizations make it easy for prospective owners -- spaying and neutering animals before adoption and often providing vet care even after adoption. "They almost give you a warranty!" enthused Gavish, aka Mr. "March."
"Every dog is a good dog with the right direction," declared Ian Phillips, the owner of See Spot Run, a dog training and pet care and walking service on the Upper West Side.
Phillips (aka "Mr. December") appears with Sweetie Pie, found in a kill shelter, Sassafras, a street puppy obtained at a rescue event and his cat Spanky, who sought out Phillips and his wife at an adoption event.
"There are just so many unwanted animals," that need homes, there is no reason to shell out thousands for a purebred, said the "pro animal" Phillips. At 52, he acknowledged he may be the oldest of the cover models but noted gratefully that the producers "were very generous with the retouching."
Lee Washington, 33, an actor, producer and fitness model from Hoboken, posed with his shirt open. "A lot of times they want a sexy look," and "I'm used to doing those kinds of shoots," said Washington, who has modeled for Puma, Wrangler, Reebok and L.L. Bean. Max, his wrinkly rescue, can be partially credited for creating and maintaining Washington's conspicuous six-pack. "Max allows me to go running with him. He's really quick and strong and has gotten so used to running now I have to teach him how to walk," said Washington.
How Max, a Shar-Pei, found his way to Washington demonstrates that it's possible to obtain a particular breed without supporting the problem-plagued industry that creates it.
A cop friend in North Carolina spotted a woman offering the dog, which she kept in a cage, on Facebook.
Horrified by the cruel plans posters shared about their intentions for Max, he retrieved the animal. He gave Max to Washington, and the model promptly fell in love with his new buddy, once intended as bait for fighting dogs.
"He gives absolutely unconditional love and is every man and woman's best friend," Washington said.
Max has adopted well to Washington's jet set life, but on the occasions Max has to stay behind, he has plenty of fans panting to spend time with him. "My friends stand in line to dog sit," Washington said.