Legally and practically, as Horowitz observes in his 2019 book, âOur Dogs, Ourselves,â pets are property. Humans buy them, stick them on and hold them on a leash, cut off their tails and ears, rule their sex life, all the while seeing them as family. We buy them beds and toys, and forgive them for their intrusions, even if we complain about other people’s dogs – OPDs – as we do with other people’s children. Dog owners will sometimes tell you that they love their Maxes and Bellas (the most popular dog names nationwide, according to a survey, although it’s Murphy in Vermont and Sadie in Delaware) more than the dogs. people in their life. Some humans show discomfort with the arrangement; they will not be called “owners”. Petco opts for âparentsâ. In Boulder, Colorado, these are the âgatekeepersâ.
âWe love dogs that look like us, or our conception of ourselves,â said Horowitz. âNow it’s so easy for people to get the dog with the specs and features they want. It’s weird that you can buy an animal by plugging in your variables and then just clicking on the dog. It’s pretty dystopian for animals.
The “refuge” dogs have become “rescue” dogs, perhaps to better signal the fate of the dog and the virtue of man. âThe way our parents treated the dogs is different from the way we do, and I suspect it will be different for our children,â Horowitz said. “Maybe the property will be regulated, or banned, a holdover from a bygone idea.” We are already creating dog breeds that can be left indoors, designed for the pee pad, separated from the natural world, like succulents on a windowsill. We imagine robot dogs, like ‘Lectronimo in “The Jetsons”, or shareable pets – Zipcat. “It’s entirely possible that in 150 years we won’t own any dogs at all,” said Horowitz.
Tony Pagano, fifty-eight, grew up on an apple farm in Ulster County, surrounded by huskies and stray dogs; when he was a teenager, his father, who ran a construction union, made him work on heavy demolition jobs. For decades he had his own construction business and built law firms, restaurants, NBA and NHL headquarters, and, after 9/11, a replica of the New York Mercantile Exchange, in a former aircraft hangar on Long Island, to be deployed in the event of destruction of the one in Manhattan. Connected with New York Republicans, Pagano has countless stories of his feuds with the city’s power brokers. One of them, about a great lawyer, begins: âThis guy who fucked me. . . “
Pagano’s wife’s family is from Puerto Rico. While visiting the island, he noticed all the “sato” dogs, the stray pooches that roam the streets and beaches. There are about five hundred thousand strayers in Puerto Rico. Pagano owns a logistics company, called Globalink Worldwide Express, and he started making arrangements to pick up sato rescues arriving on flights from the Caribbean to New York. Sometimes there were dogs that came every night. He has taken in a few of them himself and has drawn on other fostering and adoption networks. Engine 14, the fire station down the street from his apartment, near Union Square, adopted a pit bull, but Pagano, having fallen in love with him, took it back – a supposed failure of Home.
In 2017, a No Dogs Left Behind staff member familiar with Pagano’s work in Puerto Rico asked for logistical help. Pagano went to JFK to meet Jeff Beri, who was arriving on an Aeroflot flight from Moscow with nine dogs. Back then, Beri was flying dogs as excess baggage. âHere’s this guy handing out twenty dollar bills to skycaps like it’s candy,â Pagano said of Beri. âHe had nine dogs. Each had their own cart. I was, like, ‘I can’t believe this shit!’ I offered to resume the operation from there.
Pagano identifies himself as NDLB’s Global Logistics Director. He is a licensed pilot (âI can fly jets, but I don’t fly the big canâ), and has connections with carriers (âAmerican Airlines loves meâ) and airports (âI’m close to one of the union representatives of the LAX airport police “), and was therefore instrumental in bringing pallets of Chinese rescue dogs to the United States” Dogs fly in my name “, Pagano said. âI’m on the AWB, the main air waybill. I am there on the loading dock of the freight terminal. I take care of the dogs, and they constantly remind me why we don’t care.
One morning, shortly before Beri left for his last trip to China, Pagano and I went to Jersey City to meet him. He was locked in the new NDLB “base station”, as Pagano called it, in a modest vinyl-walled Heights Section house owned by an activist who helps run NDLB operations. Pagano called Beri on his phone to tell him we had arrived. âI’m still in bed,â Beri said.
âHe works all night,â Pagano explained. “China is twelve hours ahead.”
We waited outside for Beri to shower and get dressed. A tall young man named Ian McMath joined us on the porch. He wore black jeans and a black denim jacket emblazoned with NDLB slogans. McMath, a rock musician and filmmaker from Arkansas, had been living in Beijing for years when a friend recruited him to work on behalf of animal rescuer Marc Ching, who McMath said wanted incriminating footage of Beri, so to discredit him. âJeff has a lot of opponents,â said McMath. “There are a lot of competitive and self-centered operators.” Ching, who had enlisted the support of Hollywood figures such as Matt Damon and Joaquin Phoenix, has been accused by the Los Angeles Time of, among other things, paying butchers in Indonesia to burn a dog with a blowtorch to death in front of a camera, effectively perpetrating the horrors he claimed to protest. Ching denied the charges, accusing them of rival rescuers, and told the Time that “groups constantly slander each other”. (Ching also faces criminal charges for making fraudulent allegations about a pet products company he runs, the Petstaurant. Preliminary hearings are taking place this week.) He did not respond. to requests for comments.
âHe’s a very infamous individual,â Pagano said. “He was using Yulin to get famous.”
âThis guy hired my friend, who sent me down on Jeff,â McMath said. After seeing Beri in action, he switched sides and became his main videographer: âI’m like a propaganda lieutenant.
Beri greeted us at the top of the stairs. Stocky, with dark hair and a bit of stubble, no socks on gym slides, he was dressed, like McMath, in NDLB merch. His T-shirt bore the dates and locations of relief operations in China, as if he was telling the story of a concert tour. (Son Budokan: June 2019, Guangzhou, thirteen hundred dogs.) The house had been freshly renovated. There was a room for six dogs, lined with fake grass, another for the computer servers and movie equipment, and a room for passers-by like Beri. In a conference room, with four analog clocks on the wall set to different time zones, a giant television was tuned to Bloomberg News, muted, and classic rock played loudly. McMath seemed to be filming us.
Beri began to enumerate the canine horrors, amid a confusion of places and dates. I mentioned that I was deeply moved by a video Pagano showed me of a golden retriever being burnt alive with a blowtorch. âI hate people,â Beri said. âIt’s hard for me to be in public. I suffer from panic attacks, anxiety.
Beri was born in Rego Park, Queens, and raised on Long Island. His parents, originally from Hungary, were Holocaust survivors. They have always had dogs. Beri studied jewelry design and engineering in Budapest, then became a master jeweler. For a decade, he was Director of Product Manufacturing and Quality Control at David Yurman. (“He’s a force of nature,” Yurman told me. “He’s like Robin Hood. Sometimes he doesn’t know when it’s enough.” Jeff is manic “means” the sky is blue. ” ) Beri had been making jewelry in China for decades but spoke neither Mandarin nor Cantonese. His first dog trip to China dates back to spring 2016, with Marc Ching, with the avowed goal of saving ten thousand dogs before the annual Yulin show. But Ching had nowhere to keep the dogs in China. Beri built what he called safe houses in Nanning, about two hours from Yulin.