Mr. Bones & Co., a New York City-based rescue group, was born out of the journey of one pup, Mr. Bones, who doesn’t let his terrible past get him down. Elli Frank, who adopted Mr. Bones, says,

“The life he led before me is a mystery. There are pieces to his puzzle that have surfaced during his rehabilitation and training that enrage me. Mr. Bones doesn’t dwell on them and so I try hard not to.

“His ability to forgive and not look back astounds me.”


Superheroes Mr. Bones (right) and his pup sister Charlie (left). Source: Mr. Bones & Co.

Inspired to take action after adopting Mr. Bones, Elli founded Mr. Bones & Co. in 2013. The organization takes a specialized approach — they focus on the toughest cases, which can mean dogs with severe health issues or other obstacles that make it harder for them to find adoptive homes. Elli told PupJournal,

“We try to focus on finding the joy in the dogs’ stories, and not let their past define them.”


Pups Astro and Coney in the tub. Photo by Sophie Gamand.

Mr. Bones & Co. has a knack for bringing the personalities of these pups to life for potential adopters. The rescue group often partners with Sophie Gamand, well-known for her “Pit Bull Flower Power” series, to capture the silly side of adoptable pups, even if they have medical issues. Elli, through Mr. Bones & Co., has a particularly soft spot for pit bulls, and told PupJournal that there is “an epidemic of abuse of animals, particularly pit bulls, in New York City.” She goes on to say,

“Mr. Bones & Co. seeks peace and justice for pit bulls.”


Dan the puppy eats “ice cream.” Photo by Sophie Gamand.

In order to offer truly life-saving services to dogs with “extraordinary challenges,” Mr. Bones & Co. limits the number of pups in its One Lucky Pup adoption program. This allows the rescue group to fundraise and find extraordinary foster and adoptive homes to match the needs of these pups.

Mr. Bones & Co. receives support from dog lovers in all walks of life. Elli told PupJournal that many donations come via snail mail, with handwritten checks, and the fact that people take the time to mail even a small donation “propels [her] past the negativity” that can come from tough rescue cases. She writes a handwritten thank you note in response to each of these donations.


Dax the puppy. Photo by Sophie Gamand.

Mr. Bones & Co. has established a successful social media presence on Facebook and Instagram, expanding their reach to potential adopters and supporters around the country.

Related: What It’s Really Like To Rescue Dogs In NYC

All of the “Democrat” puppies, above, have now been adopted!

Mr. Bones & Co. also founded a unique fundraiser called Rescue the Runway. This event exemplifies their philosophy that “Rescue is the New Black” by making adoptable dogs the center of attention on the runway. (The phrase “…is the new black” indicates that something is in vogue or in fashion.) And, as Elli points out, “the color black — and rescue — looks good on everybody.”

The event also benefits other rescue organizations, like Animal Haven, well known for its positive work with dogs in New York City.


A policeman escorts an adoptable pup down the runway. Photo by Rachel Brook.

Elli told PupJournal that Rescue the Runway is a chance to showcase “the correlation between human welfare and animal welfare,” so firefighters, police officers, and other public servants escort the dogs down the runway.


LilyBug giving expert kisses at the “Smooch a Pooch” booth. Photo by Adam Smith.

The Rescue the Runway event, which is held annually in New York City and was held in Chicago for the first time in 2015, even has a kissing booth. Marisa Grimshaw, Co-Executive Director of Mr. Bones & Co., shares her pup LilyBug’s special kissing talents with the world (above).


Tuck the pup, dressed up as “Professor Tucker.” Photo by Sophie Gamand.

Many rescue groups strive to help adopters recognize the importance of a personality match between adoptable pup and human family (rather than relying on breed — or perceived breed — to decide). Mr. Bones & Co. does a particularly good job of highlighting the narrative of these pups, even if their appearance isn’t “perfect.”

Related: 3 Genius Ways This Organization Makes Foster Dogs Irresistible

Jasper, a pup whose loss of a leg didn’t stop him from looking like an emperor. Photo by Sophie Gamand.

This video, shown at one of the Rescue the Runway events, tells the story of pups that have overcome huge obstacles to be adopted and show their solid gold personalities to the world.

To make a donation to Mr. Bones & Co., visit their website. To check out more adorable pictures of their adoptable pups in costumes, find them on Facebook and Instagram.

Want more? Read this: 5 Ways To Support Foster Dog Families