EXCERPT: 'Rescue Ink'

Read an excerpt from Rescue Ink's and Denise Flaim's new book.

ByABC News via GMA logo
September 22, 2009, 12:09 PM

Sept. 23, 2009— -- Joe, Johnny O, Batso, Big Ant, G, Angel, Eric, Des, Bruce and Robert formed Rescue Ink in 2008. Since then, they have rescued abused and neglected animals, chased down stolen dogs and taught young people about compassion for animals. This fall, the all-volunteer group stars in a National Geographic reality television show.

Riding along and documenting the group's missions was Diane Flaim, author of "The Holistic Dog Book." She weaves the bikers' various personalities and escapades together for a compelling read in "Rescue Ink: How Ten Guys Saved Countless Dogs and Cats, Twelve Horses, Five Pigs, One Duck, and a Few Turtles."

Read an excerpt of the book below, and head to the "GMA" Library for more good reads.

Chapter 14: RebelHappy Ending

The Piper aircraft taxied up to the hangar at Republic Airport, a small suburban airport in Farmingdale, New York, on the westernmost edge of Suffolk County. Scheduled to arrive from Murray, Kentucky, at 11:30 P.M. on a windy Sunday in February, the plane had been delayed by ice formation on its wings. After landing in Pennsylvania for an hour-and-a-half detour into a heated hangar to melt the ice, the pilot had finally arrived in New York at 1:00 A.M.Even before his aircraft rolled to a stop, the pilot was eager to be back in the sky. He was far behind schedule, and his sole goal was to drop off his cargo—two muscle-bound men and one strange-looking dog.

The door of the small propeller-driven plane opened, and G emerged, carrying some duffel bags and two sets of noiseblocking headphones. He looked relieved to be on solid ground again, and exhausted after some twenty hours of round-trip flying. It seemed impossible to him that he had left Republic Airport at 7:30 the morning before. It felt like a week had passed.

Then Joe ducked out of the impossibly small-looking aircraft. The pilot helped him open a small door on the side of the plane that accessed the cabin. Joe reached in and then leaned in deeper, struggling to remove something from the cabin. Finally, he extracted a medium-size red dog wearing a harness so new it still had its price tag attached. He set the wriggling animal down on the tarmac.

The dog shook himself good-naturedly and wagged his tail. He had very little fur on his face, which was mostly covered with large patches of shiny pink skin. He had no outer ear fl aps at all, and his ear canals were so swollen, they bulged out of either side of his head. He looked more like a walrus or a seal than a dog, but that's what he was: Rescue Ink's new clubhouse dog.

On January 31, 2009, an emaciated red-nosed pit bull wandered into a garage in Murray, Kentucky. When the homeowner returned, she found him there, getting along placidly with her own two dogs. He had puncture wounds on his face and neck, and his face was so swollen he looked like a shar-pei. He had once had ears, but they had been cut or torn off, leaving ragged ribbons of cartilage framing his skull. That soon became his temporary nickname: Ribbon.

The homeowner took the dog to the Humane Society of Calloway County, which arranged to have him boarded at a veterinary office, where he was given antibiotics and pain medication. The strips of flesh that were all that remained of his ears were neatly trimmed and sutured. He just needed time—time to gain weight and for the many wounds on his head, neck, and legs to heal.

But Ribbon also needed a home, and that was a far bigger problem. The humane society's executive director, Kathy Hodge, was at a loss over what to do with the obviously abused creature. Her shelter had no expertise in abused pit bulls, and she was reluctant to adopt him out. She also did not want to euthanize him if there was any possibility of getting him the rehabilitation he needed.

Kathy had no idea what Ribbon's story was, and probably never would. She knew that police had busted up a dogfighting ring in a nearby county. Perhaps Ribbon had been turned loose from there. Either way, she had no leads and very few options. So she sent an urgent e-mail out to four reputable pit bull rescue groups that she trusted and respected. One, in Tennessee, forwarded the e-mail to Joe.

"I got the e-mail with the pictures and called Mary," Joe remembers. "I told her to call these people and tell them we would do whatever they needed. Mary said we have no money to give them. I told her I would get it even if I had to steal it. I know what it feels like to be in this dog's situation, left for dead, and not know where to go and who you can turn to. I told her, I want this dog here. I will go pick him up even if I have to drive there by myself."When the rest of the guys read the e-mail, and saw the pictures of Ribbon, there was an instant connection. He was a survivor, a tough dog who didn't fold. But while he looked more than a little rough on the outside, wore the scars of where he had been and what he had seen, they hadn't changed his basic good nature. He still loved life, and people, and other dogs. He was a walking billboard for both the forgiving, loving nature of pit bulls and the atrocities of the fighting ring.

The challenge was getting him up to New York. A few weeks before, at a fund-raising rescue benefit in New Jersey, the Rescue Ink guys had met representatives of Animal Rescue Flights, or ARF, a nonprofit group that transports rescued animals, many of them facing death row at kill shelters, to other parts of the country where loving homes await. Ribbon sounded like a perfect candidate, and Mary immediately got on the phone to arrange for his transport to New York.

G and Joe got some sleep after their late-night arrival with Ribbon. Then they headed to the clubhouse, where everyone had assembled to meet the dog they had heard so much about. When the amber-eyed dog walked into the clubhouse, there was an eruption of elation, curiosity, and for some, relief.

"I was afraid I wouldn't be able to look at him," Eric admitted, as Ribbon wagged his tail furiously at him. "He's going to be really good when we go to the schools. I'd like to see these smart-ass kids laugh at him. You can show all the pictures you want, but when you have an actual dog like this to show people what dogfighting is all about, there's no comparison."

The dog's ears looked terrible, with each ear canal so swollen its sides touched. Still, this was a huge improvement over what Ribbon had looked like when he'd been rescued two weeks before. "The ears were so infected," remembers Kathy Hodge, "that when the volunteer drove over to pick him up, he got in the car, shook his head, and pus flew all over her car. She spent the rest of the day cleaning it off."

The closer the guys looked at Ribbon's wounds, the more disturbing his story became: There were thin cuts around his muzzle and legs, suggested that he had had his mouth tied shut and been hogtied.