by Len Lear
If you were walking down a city street and saw “Wolf” and “Crash” walking towards you, you just might cross the street quickly. These guys look like outlaw bikers — big, tough-looking guys with enough tattoos to fill an art museum. But if you were an animal who has been abused, “Wolf” and “Crash” are the most beautiful humans you have ever seen. While dogs are indeed man’s best friend, these two guys and their volunteers are definitely an abused animal’s best friends.
That’s because these tough guys, who used to spend their leisure time speeding down area highways on their Harleys, now spend it providing love, rehabilitation and a new life for animals who have been the victims of “human” beasts. They do have day jobs, but they spend most other hours in the worst area neighborhoods, walking into abandoned houses, dealing with, snakes, insects, rats, poison ivy and maybe two-legged predators, in order to save a cat or dog.
Russ “Wolf” Harper, 40, and Karl “Crash” Sangree, 62, who both grew up in the Philly suburbs (there is no specific Chestnut Hill area angle to this story, but these guys will go anywhere in the Delaware Valley to rescue an animal in distress), started Justice Rescue, their non-profit organization, in 2011. They both previously worked in animal shelters. (Crash got his name because he crashed a lot of motorcycles; Wolf’s name represents the ultimate Alpha Dog.)
“We realized there was a void in animal rescue, a deficiency of sorts,” said Wolf. “There isn’t another rescue that does what we do. We will respond to calls of abuse or neglect 24/7/365 days a year, no matter the weather or what plans we might be in the middle of. We will not leave any animal behind. There aren’t any agencies out there that assist animals while the abuse is actually happening. That’s why we started Justice Rescue.”
Needless to say, Justice Rescue has rescued many dogs in both the city and suburbs that have been used for dogfighting, been neglected, abused or abandoned. It is important to point out, however, that Wolf, Crash and their many volunteers are not vigilantes who grab any dogs they see. However, if they find dogs in the basement of an abandoned building or a dog that cannot even stand up, they will use the authority of the Humane Police Officer status to the fullest extent. “We will not be intimidated,” said Wolf.
In fact, Justice Rescue works hand-in-hand with local police departments and animal-welfare agencies. They receive calls regularly from police officers seeking help with animal abuse cases.
Although many police officers come across cases of animal abuse, they have generally not had the training to know how to handle them. “We are proud of the relationships we’ve cultivated with many law enforcement agencies, and their help and support is paramount to our mission,” said Wolf. “We’re proud to be their go-to source when they’re unsure about their options in dealing with these situations.”
Many of the organization’s rescues come from tips supplied to their website or their Facebook page. In many cases, Justice Rescue becomes the only sanctuary for these animals, and they absorb all the significant cost of medical and rehabilitation treatment, training and finding new, loving homes.
In their four-year history, Justice Rescue has literally rescued thousands of animals, including cats and dogs that are not pit bulls. “There are only a few animals that we will likely never be able to find permanent homes for,” said Wolf, “and they are sanctuary dogs for us. They’ll be with us forever. As a trainer, I spend a lot of time rehabilitating the abused and neglected so they can be re-homed in a caring environment.”
Justice Rescue is a 501c3 non- profit organization. All of the money they receive is used directly for the rescue, care and rehabilitation of the pets they save; in addition, Crash and Wolf have used a lot of their own personal funds in the rescue efforts.
How much in expenses does the group incur in a typical month? “That depends,” said Wolf. “For instance, our miracle dog, Frank, was shot five times, and his medical bills were extremely high. But it’s not just the medical attention that strains our financial resources; training and rehabilitation of the pets can be costly, care and support, food, shelter and so on.”
What is the worst case of abuse they have ever encountered? “There’s not one specific ‘worse case’ that stands out; we’ve rescued dogs that have been tortured, used for fighting, beat and other unthinkable things. You can check out a showcase FOX29 News did recently on Justice Rescue using this link about Remi.” It qualifies as a worst case scenario: vimeo.com/144116145
What was the most dangerous situation Wolf and Crash have encountered in terms of their own safety? “We were trapped in an alley while trying to complete a rescue and were confronted by thugs with weapons and had to fight our way out of it, and we were outnumbered. Needless to say, we were successful.”
What does Justice Rescue want the public to know about this issue of cruelty and abuse of animals? “We want people to know that they can make a difference. Don’t ignore the signs, report abuse, and understand that abuse of an animal very often manifests into larger, much bigger issues. The abuse rarely ends with the animal…
“This work is so rewarding; dogs teach us so much. A dog that’s been abused who learns how to love and trust again, teaches us forgiveness. A dog that’s taught to fight who is rehabilitated to be part of a balanced pack teaches us that we can evolve and don’t have to be a product of our environment. It’s the happiest feeling when we can re-home a dog that we helped find balance and peace, to live his life the way he was meant to.”
For more information, visit Justice Rescue at www.justice-rescue.com or follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/justicerescue. You can call them at 215-942-6363 or 484-860-9798, or email firstname.lastname@example.org Donations can be sent to PO Box 112, Woodlyn, PA 19094.