Of the dogs who stood in front of NYC Pet on Driggs Ave. on Saturday, a surprising number had both first and last names. There was a collie-shepherd named David Hasselhoff, a basset hound-boxer named Patrick Henry, and a Calhoun hound-pit bull named Faye Dunaway — in addition to a “super mellow” beagle mix, whose dirty blonde erudition and Germanic allure had apparently compelled a previous owner to name her Carole Lombard. Though some of the dogs were still considered puppies, most were at least twice the size of a shoebox, and all of them were hoping to find adopters, as part of the weekly-to-biweekly events organized by Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue.
Members of BBAR, a group dedicated to “saving badass dogs from idiot humans,” are united by a deep, broad, long-lasting attachment to dogs as friends. Most grew up with dogs in their homes, and those who aren’t pet owners tend to see their volunteer work as a way to keep dogs in their lives, keeping them company on events like Saturday’s, where they can be matched up with prospective owners who seem like a good fit.
Johnny Bergmann, a bearded co-founder of the group, has over the years helped hundreds of foster dogs find a place to live, at one point sharing space with eleven dogs at a time. Like the other volunteers, he gives the impression of having an enormous heart, and frequently emulates the pained sincerity and wordless head-shaking of owners, who have had to give their pets back to a shelter, because they lacked the time or money to take care of them.
In the South, where most of BBAR’s animals are found, this is a serious problem. Shelters in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and North Carolina euthanize as many as 90% of the dogs in their care — a far higher rate than New York City’s shelters — and since 2011, hundreds of these have been rescued by willing owners in the northeast. Bergmann’s first rescue, a Fyce he named Cascade (after his favorite variety of hops; he is also a brewer), was two hours away from being put down when he was rescued. When a new owner was found, Cascade was renamed Nutmeg, though Bergmann still keeps two dogs of his own, including a smooth fox terrier named Jackson, and a fluffy black and white King Charles-Cavalier-Papillon named Reese.
Jared and Julie, two veteran Badass volunteers, have been fostering Patrick Henry for long enough that they were close to getting too attached. Though Patrick is as energetic as a small child (waking them both at 6 AM most days) they were considering adopting him themselves if he wasn’t picked up by the end of the day.
BBAR was named “Shelter of the Month” by Project Blue Collar, an organization dedicating to publicly identifying and celebrating rescue dogs. If you’re interested in volunteering, or to learn more about the dogs up for adoption, click here.