Glen Head's Joe Gatto, a star of the TruTV prank show "Impractical Jokers" and a longtime advocate for adopting rescue dogs, has become the face of an animal-welfare group for its fundraising Strut Your Mutt Day on Oct. 23.
Calling it "my mission to help save all the pets I can," Gatto, 45, said in a statement that he is working with the Utah-based nonprofit Best Friends Animal Society to promote the Strut Your Mutt virtual and physical walkathon to benefit rescue groups and shelters including Posh Pets in Long Beach and Ruff House Rescue in Oceanside.
"My house is a doghouse," added Gatto — who wrote and shot the photographs for his 2020 book "The Dogfather: My Love of Dogs, Desserts and Growing Up Italian." "I'm truly outnumbered. There are 12 of them and only four of us," he noted of himself, his wife Bessy, their daughter Milana, 6, and son Remo, 4. "That's a 3-to-1 ratio of humans to dogs. But I wouldn't have it any other way because I can't imagine my house without the craziness of these Gatto Pups."
He went on to condemn "puppy mills," a term used by animal activists for dog breeding facilities characterized by quick breeding and poor conditions. "I didn't realize puppy mills were a problem until my wife, Bessy, and I got our first dog, Cannoli. Cannoli came from a puppy mill and she came with many health issues. It was after we got her that we researched and educated ourselves about the conditions dogs face in puppy mills. And now, we work with organizations to encourage people to adopt, not shop."
For more information, including on how to join Gatto's team, visit bestfriends.org.