Rescuing Abandoned Dogs Is His Rehab

The dog that saved Mike Favor’s life was a German shepherd puppy named Honey: 8 weeks old, heart condition, four months to live. This was in 2016, and Mr. Favor was trying to get sober, after 13 years of active cocaine addiction. When he heard about the puppy, at a rescue organization where he occasionally volunteered, he knew he couldn’t take her.

“I’m too new into sobriety,” he told his fiancée at the time, who also volunteered at the rescue center. Another tragedy in his life, he said, might drive him back to drugs.

Then he met Honey.

Mr. Favor is a big tough guy, son of a cop, a self-described “street dude” with a chip on his shoulder. But here was this puppy looking at him, needing a home, even if only for four months. He told himself, “I’ll give her the best four months possible.”

One recent afternoon on Staten Island, Mr. Favor, 40, showed off the product of that encounter: a 4,000-square-foot rescue center and sanctuary for abused or neglected dogs called Freedom Home. Prominent is a photo of Honey, who lived for seven years in his care, far exceeding the vet’s prognosis, before dying last year.

At Freedom Home, Mr. Favor also runs Broken Souls Rescue and Recovery, to facilitate adoptions, and he also created a program to connect recovering addicts with the dogs. This venture he called Pitbulls and Addicts, for “two misunderstood breeds” that need care and acceptance.

The entrance to Freedom Home, the dog rescue and sanctuary run by Mr. Favor in Staten Island. Credit…Olga Ginzburg for The New York Times

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