Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Former Gambino enforcer under John Gotti leaves life of crime to rescue unwanted dogs

Thanks to a Shih Tzu, this tough-guy mobster found redemption
When Charlie, a 160-pound American bulldog, bit his owners’ newborn in the face, it seemed he was destined for death. After all, who would want a proven menace?
James Guiliani, 48, once a menace himself, was deemed fit for the job. “[The owners] heard about me, and didn’t want to give a loaded pistol to anybody else; they feared he could bite again,” says the former mobster, who spent his 20s as an enforcer for the Gambino crime family under John Gotti. He was busted for conspiracy to commit burglary, kidnapping and murder in the early ’90s, and served two years jail time.
Two decades later, Guiliani’s given up a life of crime and drugs to rescue New York City’s most unwanted animals. As co-owner (with girlfriend Lena Perrelli) of Keno’s Rescue Center and the Diamond Collar grooming salon, both in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, he currently houses 80 animals — including a now-tame Charlie, who “licks every kid we pass on the face.”
He documents his journey in his new memoir, “Dogfella: How an Abandoned Dog Named Bruno Turned This Mobster’s Life Around.”
Having never cared for animals growing up, it wasn’t until 2006 — a decade after his release from prison — that Guiliani had a change of heart.
Guiliani and Perrelli were just preparing to open the Diamond Collar when they spotted an abused Shih Tzu tied to a parking meter. They rushed him to a veterinarian, and Perrelli convinced her beau to check on the dog the next day. Seeing the pup bathed and happy struck a weak spot Guiliani didn’t know he had.
“I’m a junkie, I’m a thief — hard-core, ya know? And here I go to pick up this little dog, and all of a sudden I’m bringing him home.”
The dog, Bruno, only lived five weeks before dying of cancer. But Guiliani dedicated himself to rehabilitating NYC’s abused and abandoned pets, with the same zest he once reserved for indulging in cocaine. “I love the challenge every day; no sex, no drug will give you a better feeling than this,” he says.
His success with rescues led him to open Keno’s Rescue Center in 2013. Guiliani’s success stories include Primo, a Cane Corso, Little John, a surprisingly vicious Chihuahua, and Charlie, who all
continue to live at Keno’s.
“[Their families] feared them,” he explains. “When you fear a dog, that dog will take advantage of you. I don’t fear them, I understand them.”
Keno’s, a cage-free facility, also houses feral cats and other critters.
“I used to stick guns in people’s faces, and now I’m picking up baby birds and rushing through red lights to get them to a vet,” he says.
Guiliani and Perrelli also keep 30 animals in their Brooklyn home, including Shih Tzus, pugs and many cats — seven of which are blind. It’s a lot of responsibility, but Guiliani embraces it.
“It fills a void,” he says. “People let me down my whole life, but I found something that could never hurt me back. [Animals] will accept my love and cherish it.”


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