If you love animals and you’re on Facebook, chances are you may “Like” a group called Real Men Are Kind to Animals. The idea, as the group’s name suggests, is that the sexiestguys in the world – like Spanish actor Alfonso Bassave, right, who modeled for this photo to promote dog adoption – are the ones who show compassion to defenseless creatures. As of this writing, the group is very popular, with 63,800 “Likes.”
Robert Misseri is the president of Guardians of Rescue,a not-for-profit organization dedicated to global animal rescue. He doesn’t just”Like” the premise that real men are kind to animals – he lives it (as we’ve seen in this column before).
Misseri has been active in dog rescue for many years. His fellow rescuers were always mostly women -“99 percent,” by his estimation. In 2007, he co-founded Rescue Ink on the premise that being a guy – even a tattoo’d, musclebound, motorbike-riding tough guy – is not at odds with showing TLC to animals. Far from it. (He recently resigned from Rescue Ink tofocus on Guardians of Rescue.) In fact, through its book and reality TV show, Rescue Ink proved that caring for helpless animals is a very manly thing to do.
“I get emails from women every day saying, ‘Thanks to you, my husband now gets up off his fat ass and helps me rescue animals,'” says Misseri, whohas noticed more and more men getting involved with animal rescue – and not just tattoo’d bikers. “I’ve seen a major increase in male rescuers’ participation,” he says. Many animal-welfare insiders feel that Misseri was instrumental in closing the animal rescue gender gap.
In addition to Guardians of Rescue, the animal rescue fieldoffersmany masculine role models who are easy on the eyes, such as Wayne Pacelle, debonairhead of the Humane Society of the United States. Pacelle’s resemblance toa matinee idol has doubtless helpedattract legions of followers to HSUS’s pro-animal platform. Meanwhile, Purina One banked on the star power of a real matinee idol, hunky actor Josh Lucas, to promote its pro-animal shelter message.
It wasn’t always like this. For a long time, animal rescue was woman’s work. If rescuers happened to be married, they would encounter spousal indifference or outright interference. (I know; I was wedlocked to a guy like that.) We gals would often commiserate about our guys, swapping “Can-you-believe-what-he-did?!” war stories. The rare husband who helped his wife in her rescue work was like the elusive unicorn, dismissed by animal rescuers as an urban legend.
So, is the new breed of male rescuer doing good deeds to score with chicks? Who cares! Whatever their motives, dogs are being saved.
“Personally, when a man goes out of his way towards an animal, I become a pushover for that man,” says relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle. “Women intuitively know that how a man treats animals is usually transferable to the way he treats women. Bring this guy on!”
Happily, old-fashioned notions of what it means to be “a real man” have evolved. “A real man is compassionate because he knows he doesn’t have to perform in macho mode,” Carle explains. “He knows who he is, and he shows who he is without apology! What has changed in the animal rescue department is that more of our men are feeling more secure about their masculinity. This has been a long time in coming! Thank goodness.”
Some guys, she adds, might explain away their obvious affinity for animal rescue as nothing more than a scheme to meet women. But that’s just a front to conceal lingering embarrassment atbeing perceived as “sensitive.”
“The guys who say they use their pets as a chick magnet are embarrassed over their more sensitive and feminine side,” Carle says, “so they feel the need to joke about their own compassionate nature. These guys are still evolvingbut at least they are stepping in the right direction. Hey, ladies, if a guys got a dog, disregard what he says is the motive for having it. Just know that hes a sensitive guy who’s not afraid of being perceived that way. And hell probably make a good date or mate.”