Motorcyclists defending helpless animals: the image couldn’t contain more contrast and yet be more endearing. For Bikers Against Animal Neglect & Abuse founder Michael Wise, this vision has become his reality. It all started about two and a half years ago with Wise and his fiancé, Sherri. Wise, who always liked animals and has adopted dogs himself, remembers regularly seeing several photos posted on Facebooks groups by people looking to rehome their pets. He says people would take these animals, but then, suddenly, photos would appear of the same pets looking for new homes once again. “The treatment of many of these animals upset me, and this triggered the thought, Why not start a group?” says Matthew Wise. “These animals can’t speak for themselves.” Having previously been a part of the motorcycle club industry, Wise decided to start a group on his own.
He called the group Bikers Against Animal Neglect & Abuse (B.A.A.N. & A.), a name which says it all. The group collects donations in support of local shelters and other animal groups. “At first it was really hard because not a lot of people wanted to donate,” confides Wise, explaining that he is not about taking people’s money. “The places we help need all kinds of things. Sheets, blankets, dog food and cat food, dog toys: things don’t have to be brand new. These places always need cleaning supplies, as well, such as bleach and laundry detergent.” Wise explained that his group started out seeking donations for Livingston County Dog Control and were able to help the organization out with lots of dog food. He says they prefer to help organizations because that way they are certain the help is going to the right place.
The first year, B.A.A.N. & A. held its first motorcycle run, and it was very successful. They decided to hold the run for a second year, and this was successful, as well, so successful, in fact, that they had to add more areas. BAANA grew to include two additional branches: one in Marion, Wayne County and the other in Canandaigua, Ontario County. In both the Wayne County branch, led by Dan Campbell, and the Ontario branch, led by Andrew Watson and his wife, B.A.A.N. & A. is supporting area shelters and rescues, including well-known Lollipop Farm. For example, Bikers Against Animal Neglect & Abuse was recently able to donate $240 worth of cat supplies to Hearthside Cats of Avon.
“We do it all for free,” says Wise. “We deliver everything ourselves. 100% of everything we receive goes back to these animals. We do not use any of the money we raise for anything else, not even gas!” Wise explains that no group is too small to receive their help. “We often ask the smaller shelters for a wish list which shows everything they regularly use and everything they need.” When asked why he feels his group’s mission is so important, Matthew Wise says, “The animals can’t speak for themselves, and so many of them need a home. Many are abused. For example, I see dogs which have been left tied outside to trees, and unfortunately, sometimes law enforcement isn’t able to help.” Wises passion for animals is clear as he continues, “The law says that if a dog is outside, it has to have water, food and shelter. Buffalo just passed a law saying that you cannot tether your dog outside for more than an hour in extreme temperatures above 90 degrees or below freezing. I wish that was the law across our state.”
It is this passion that keeps Wise going, and he has no plans of slowing down. “We just raised money through a GoFundMe, and we are going to use it to buy dog beds for shelters which allow them,” says Wise. “It keeps growing by people being interested, contacting me, wanting to learn more about us.” Last week, Wise was on a radio station in Rochester. He was being interviewed about B.A.A.N. & A. and was asked about what they do and where they do it.
Looking to the future, Wise says they plan to hold their third annual Motorcycle Run on August 25th. They have Bikers Against Animal Neglect & Abuse patches, stickers, shirts and hats for sale, as well. “We are also setting up our first Donation Drop Off Box at K’s Dog Training at the bottom of Stony Brook Hill on Route 36 in Dansville,” Wise shares excitedly. “We want to give people one more way to support animals in need. We usually pick up people’s donations ourselves and are still happy to do so. Please contact us any time if you have donation, would like to help in any way or if you would like more information.” Wise adds that it is also in his personal plans to move to North Carolina, and when he does, he will hand over ownership of Bikers Against Animal Neglect & Abuse of New York to Dan Campbell. This doesn’t mean the end of helping animals for Matthew Wise, however. He says he will start a new branch in North Carolina, as well, in hopes that the movement he started will continue to grow beyond the area. “We are always looking for members,” says Wise. “All are welcome. You don’t have to have a motorcycle to join in and help!
For more information, contact Matthew Wise (Livingston & Steuben Counties) at 585-519-1931, Dan Campbell (Wayne County) at 585-330-8878 or Andrew Watson (Ontario County) at 520-873-7568. You can also find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/625356997674450/.