James "Head" Guiliani was an unlikely candidate to become a passionate animal rescuer. Read more...
James "Head" Guiliani was an unlikely candidate to become a passionate animal rescuer. Raised in a religious family in a blue-collar neighborhood, James became involved in street gangs at a young age. By his mid-twenties, he'd become a 6'2" 250-pound enforcer for the Gambino crime family during the reign of infamous mob boss John Gotti. But after years of worsening alcohol and drug use and a stretch in the Riverhead Correctional Facility, James finally hit bottom.
It was then that he met Lena Perrelli, who helped turn his life around, providing the love and support he'd rejected in the past. And when the couple rescued an abandoned and abused shih tzu, the second phase of James's salvation began. Lovingly named Bruno, the small dog opened the former enforcer's hardened heart, and James discovered a new purpose in life as a devoted animal rescuer.
Dogfella tells how this onetime altar boy from Queens became a gang member, a mob confidante, an an addict and convicted felonand 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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-06-22
- Reviewer: Staff
Guiliani, a low-level mobster with ties to the Gotti family, was deep into drugs and booze when he encountered an abused dog tied to a parking meter one morning in 2006. Incensed at the cruelty, he rescued the dog, took him to the vet, and nursed him back to life. That mangy Shih Tzu, whom Guiliani named Bruno, would change his life in ways he couldn't have imagined. His path to redemption as a dog rescuer and operator of a pet grooming boutique (which later became the focus of a reality show) is neither quick nor direct. Guiliani's frank and often heartwarming tale is a study in contrasts. He's both a tough ex-con who hustled coke and steroids to fuel benders that could last for days, and a remarkably tender and softhearted animal lover seemingly determined to rescue each and every abused or abandoned animal he encounters. In some cases these two worlds collide, such as when Guiliani organizes a mob-style "sit-down" to negotiate the release and proper care of a dog who came into the boutique looking tattered and filthy. Guilani's unique story is likely to resonate with animal lovers, and even inspire them to speak up and take action against animal abuse. (June)