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 This Week on Animal Radio

Animal Radio for June 24, 2023  

Mobster Turned Animal Advocate
James Guiliani, Dogfella

James Giuliani and DogSpecial guest James Guiliani was a bad dude. He hung with Gotti and spent time behind bars. He was a drug-addicted, ex-con on the verge of suicide when a dog and a dame changed his life for the better. James said, "If you think the mafia is bad, try animal rescue!"

How did a former mob enforcer become a compassionate advocate for animals in need of loving homes? How did his hardened heart open up to the plight of abused and abandoned pets?

James Guiliani started at a young age hanging out at the clubs with a gang called '112' in Queens and worked his way up with hanging out with the John Gotti gang.

After about 14 to 15 years of this, he became dependent on drugs and alcohol. To get his fix, he would rob people and made a mess of his life. He even had to move to Brooklyn, because he had burned his bridges and robbed all his friends in Queens.

James was at such a low point in his life that he decided to go to the beach and end it all. However, he figured that God did not want that to happen to him that day so he sent some girls to talk him out of it. One of these girls ended up being the love of his life, Lena Perrelli.

Lena turned about to be a big animal lover, but James figured he would change that. He figured it would only take him about a month to get rid of her animals.

But, the opposite happened. Lena talked him into rescuing a dog that was dying on the streets, an abused Shih Tzu he named Bruno. Bruno was and still is the love of James life when it comes to animals.

Unfortunatel, Bruno only survived for about a month, but was able to change James' life during that short period of time. James has been sober ever since and hasn't done nor sold any drugs since then.

James has lost many family members in his life, included two of his brothers as well as his mother and father all at young ages. Nothing, even these deaths, could make him stop. He was a train heading for a wall. But, surprisingly, he did stop all due to the lick on the face from a dying, young dog.

James is very grateful for this dog, because without him, he feels he would be dead. James was 38 when this happened, so he tells everyone don't think you can't change, you can - no matter what your age! If he can go from holding a gun in his hand one to day to cleaning litter boxes the next, anyone can do this.

BrunoIn fact, James opened up his own cage-less rescue in Brooklyn as well as The Diamond Collar Boutique with Lena. They have many animals in their rescue, many at home and a few in their store. James rescues every kind of animal. These animals include Pit Bulls, Mastiffs, Chihuahuas, cats and kittens.

James has been doing this for many years and everyone lives out in the open, not in cages. He was told it couldn't be done and James loves it when someone tells him he can't do something, as he will set out to prove them wrong! James told us that every Easter he gets stuck with about 20 to 30 ducks. It seems everyone thinks the babies are cute for Easter and then they call him and tell him it is too big and it's pooping all over the house. He picks up the ducks and takes them to the lake and gives them a life. He has dedicated his life to the animals and has stopped being selfish. At one time, James felt that if something or someone didn't benefit his life, he didn't want it, this included the animals.

So how do you get out of the mob? James says you just walk away. However James says he didn't get out of anything, he states he just "switched over." He is still 'James' and still has the same friends. He still sees them and even goes to the same clubs. He states what they do is their business and what he does is his. He just redirected his business.

In fact, some of his friends help him with animal rescue. If he shows up at someone's door who has been abusing their animal and they want to give him a hard time, his friends just step up to the plate and all of a sudden there's no problem, James is taken seriously, and an animal is handed over.

James also hates to see animals chained up and will sometimes approach the owners with a lot of money in his pocket. He will talk to an owner and mention that the dog must be a lot of trouble. This usually gets the owner going on about how bad the dog is, with James playing along. James will eventually say that the dog is cute, with the owner usually saying, "Yeah, he's cute until he start peeing all over your house!" James will then tell the person he is going to give them a way out of their problem. They look at James strangely until he offers them cash, sometimes up to $500 for the dog, and tells them to tell the kids that the dog ran away.

When asked what he thinks about prison programs where inmates rehabilitate and train dogs, James states he has done time in prison and thinks the programs are an unbelievable idea and the best idea any one ever came up with!

People always ask James why doesn't he direct his efforts towards helping people in need? He states that it isn't that he doesn't want to help these people, it's that they have so many people already helping them. Plus, he wants to help something that never hurt him. Every human he ever came in contact with, and it could be because he brought it on himself, ended in a tragedy. No matter who it was, he was always hurt at the end.

James felt Bruno picked him, and this might be because 'God' told him he was definitely not a people person and that he should be directed more towards something that needs him more, allowing him to be more useful.

Dogfella Book CoverPlus, he admits he has a Rocky Balboa/Andrew Dice Clay voice, so him pitching an organization like ALS, probably wouldn't go over too well. But, his voice works well for the dogs. All he has to do is show up at someone's door, perhaps someone who has left their dog outside in the heat, and speak, and people take notice!

James feels everyone has their calling and his happens to be for the voiceless animals. It may not be for everyone, as it is hard work and he puts in about 15 hours a day, every day, 7 days a week. These days include Christmas, Easter, beach days, it doesn't matter, he is there working.

Many days James wakes up begrudgingly thinking about having to go to his rescue. However, the minute he gets there and is greeted by all the animals, he breaks out into this huge smile every time. He just has to look into their eyes and he knows that they would not be alive without him. He thinks it's the best feeling in the world and nothing can beat it, be it drugs or sex, nothing comes close, and he knows, because he's done it all.

James doesn't want to be a tough guy, but he tells people to get into animal rescue and that it's, "Worse than the Mafia ever was!" James just wants people to help the animals, but states they don't have to be animal freaks. They can do little things like putting out a little water in the yard in the summertime for wildlife. Or if you live in the city, put out a can of cat food under a car or in a yard. Even if you just do a little bit, it helps a lot. Remember, don't abuse animals; don't chase them; don't throw rocks at them; and don't poison them because they eat your plants or come in your yard.

In his book, Dogfella, James tells how this onetime altar boy from Queens became a gang member, a mob confidante, an addict and convicted felon - and how he found redemption by dedicating his life to animals. Alongside his personal journey, James shares stories from his rescue missions with Keno's Animal Rescue Shelter in Brooklyn: saving pit bulls from a dogfighting ring, driving through six-foot snowdrifts to reach 200 cats stranded in a blizzard, taking in homeless ducks from Staten Island, and many more. Sometimes scary, sometimes funny, and often poignant, James's story shows how the love of an animal can bring even the most hopeless cases a new purpose and a path to redemption.

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Don't Litter - Spay or Neuter Instead! - Dr. Debbie

Dr. Debbie WhiteDo you believe your beautiful pedigreed pooch just has to be bred, or that your cat can't possible get outside to become pregnant, or that you long to have just one litter from Fluffy? Spaying or neutering is the right thing to do for your pet's health, and is a step forward in addressing pet overpopulation issues. With approximately 1.5 million dogs and cats euthanized at U.S. shelters every year, pet owners can do their part to avoid unintended and unnecessary breeding.

Your individual decisions on altering your pet do matter. Animals, left to do what they will, result in a lot of generations of whiskers and tails in just a short period of time. A pair of dogs can produce 67,000 puppies in 3 years' time. And cats in that same time frame can prosper to over 420,000 kittens.

Common Spay & Neuter Fallacies:

Isn't it better to let my female dog go into heat before I spay her?
FALSE. You can minimize the risk of breast cancer to zero by spaying before the first heat. Allow her to have a few heat cycles, and your dog has a 25% chance of developing breast cancer. The health benefits for females also include preventing uterine cancer and the life-threatening reproductive infection, pyometra.

Isn't it better to let a female dog have at least one litter of pups?
FALSE. There is no psychological or health benefit in allowing a female dog to have a litter. It does not make her a better, more affectionate pet. On the contrary, some pregnant female dogs are quite protective and aggressive to anyone disturbing her brood.

My dog is a purebred dog with a pedigree so it is meant to be bred.
FALSE. Having purebred papers doesn't mean an animal has to be bred. There is no shortage of purebred animals, with purebred dogs accounting for 30% of all animals currently in shelters.

It's a great experience to allow children witness the beauty of birth by letting your pet have a litter.
STOP. What really is beautiful is to impart children with a sense of value toward animal life. Yes, birth is a miracle to behold. But there are many books and videos that demonstrate birth in a responsible manner, without unnecessary pet breeding.

Teach your children to care for your existing pets, from puppyhood or kitten hood until senior pet years. Children learn responsibility while caring for a pet and develop an appreciation for the human-animal bond by living it daily.

Won't spaying or neutering my pet make my pet fat?
FALSE. You directly control what, when and how much your pet eats. The fate of your pet's waistline lies in your hands. Your pet's metabolism may slow down some after spaying or neutering, but with sensible feeding and regular exercise you can maintain a healthy weight for your pet.

Puppy and KittenIt's expensive to spay or neuter my pet.
FALSE. There are many affordable solutions to ensuring your pet is spayed or neutered. Some veterinary hospitals and shelters offer special programs on Spay Day. And other facilities offer year round low-cost options.

Still not convinced spaying and neutering is worth it? Consider that the cost of spay or neuter is less than the cost of raising kittens or pups for a year. And don't ignore the possible realities of pregnancy problems. An emergency C-section for a pet having labor difficulties costs $1000 or more.

I want my dog to guard the house. Won't spaying or neutering make my pet less protective?
FALSE. There is no relation between your pet having reproductive organs and performing as a guard dog. A dog's protective behavior is based on instinct and training. Surgically spaying or neutering doesn't change your pet's devotion to protect home and family members. And once a dog is spayed or neutered, it has less desire to roam away from home to find a mate.

Take action now.
Of course you want to do what's best for your pet. Life is busy with family demands, work and a stream of errands. But don't delay this important step to keep your pet healthy for a lifetime together with you.

Featured veterinarian known as "Dr. Debbie" on national pet radio program, Animal Radio. Ebook author of "Yorkshire Terriers: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; "Pugs: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; "Mini Schnauzers: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; and "Shih Tzu: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend." Dr. Debbie's books.

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Animal Radio News - Lori Brooks

Lori and Flo BearEmployers Offer Pet Health Insurance
A job that has good benefits is the best and now pet health insurance is revealed to be one of the fastest growing employee perks in a benefit package! While not all companies allow our four-legged friends in the workplace, one in three Fortune 500 companies now offer pet insurance as a voluntary benefit. As the popularity of pet health insurance expands, some companies are subsidizing a percentage of their employee's cost, with several companies now paying as much as 100-percent of their employees' pet insurance premiums. Plan options and premiums can vary, but start at approximately $10 per month and average $24 to $34 monthly and many companies allow employees the opportunity to pay their premiums via payroll deduction.

Sharks Travel Ocean Highways
It's the season for summer vacations at the beach, but keep in mind some research that shows great whites and other sharks travel on 'Ocean Highways.' Mapping out these routes is enabling scientists to better understand the behavior of sharks and to improve conservation tactics. Ongoing research also shows how busy both the sharks and these highways can be. The sharks do show repeated travels along the same general paths, which is quite amazing since there are few 'road signs' in the open ocean. As for how the sharks know where to go, it's thought sharks use the earth's magnetic field to navigate, like some birds do.

MuerteCrow as Mascot
Big Tree Nursery in Minnesota had a special day with a big sale when it introduced its mascot, a crow, to the public. The bird sat patiently during the nursery's anniversary sale, watching customers walk by and grooming himself. He occasionally stepped onto a customer's arm and opened his mouth wide like a smile to have his picture taken. The crow became a part of the nursery team when employees unknowingly cut down the tree he was living in. They then had to get special permission from the state Department of Natural Resources to keep him. The crow loved his life with the other animals at the Big Tree Nursery, however, his favorite friend was the German shepherd who took him around for rides on his back.

Barriers Prohibit Seniors From Owning Pets
You know we love to share all the benefits that come to humans who share their lives with pets. Research published in Activities, Adaption & Aging calls for increased understanding about older adults and the current barriers, which limit older adults' chances to own a pet. Medical problems that arise with older adults, such as physical illness and emotional issues, have the potential to be lessened by companionship of pets because animals reduce social isolation and enhance physical activity. But, illnesses that are often associated with aging, ranging from arthritis to diabetes, make it hard or impossible for older adults to provide routine care for their pets. Financial barriers are another issue that older pet owners face. The author of the study is an animal-loving geriatric social-work-researcher who says he's always been interested in finding creative, cost effective ways to improve the lives and well-being of older adults and helping them to adopt shelter pets.

Ear Listen to the entire Podcast of this show (#1229)

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