Bike-riding veteran tours country to promote pet adoption

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published August 6, 2014

 Anthony Ungaro sits on his motorcycle July 31 at a Petco store in Sterling Heights. He is touring the country to support pet adoption.

Anthony Ungaro sits on his motorcycle July 31 at a Petco store in Sterling Heights. He is touring the country to support pet adoption.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

A man on a mission to help promote animal adoptions is taking his two-wheeler on a journey to help his four-legged friends.

Anthony Ungaro, a veteran of the U.S. Marines, made a stop at a Sterling Heights Petco location July 31 while on his cross-country motorcycle tour to support animal adoption and shelters. The 4,000-plus mile trip was scheduled to start in New York July 28, span 14 states and end in Los Angeles Aug. 14.

The national campaign effort, “Anthony’s Ride for Shelter Pets,” was aligned with an organization called Rock & Rawhide. According to Rock & Rawhide, its mission is to boost cat and dog adoptions, and supply shelter pets with toys that keep them distracted and happy.

Ungaro, 29, said he is a native of Brooklyn. On the morning before his Sterling Heights visit, he said in a phone call that he was still in western Pennsylvania on his road trip.

While he called the experience “totally awesome,” he said the cross-country trip on his 2007 Harley-Davidson FXDB Dyna Street Bob has taken longer than he had originally thought.

But he said Rock & Rawhide’s mission gave him the motivation to try it and to keep going.

“If someone can benefit from this, this is primarily the reason why I’m riding,” he said. “I kind of don’t want to do it for me. I wanted to do it for a reason.”

Upon his return from the military, Ungaro said, he found a faithful pal in a pit bull named Donny. Ungaro said he remembers reading a newspaper article about how owning a pet can help ease the transition to civilian life.

“It was one of the best decisions of my life, and I’ve gained so much,” Ungaro said. “He’s given so much back to me in terms of companionship.”

When Ungaro visited the Sterling Heights Petco, he presided over a donation of supplies to a Michigan Humane Society adoption center located at the store.

Michigan Humane Society spokesman Ryan McTigue said his group was “super thankful” that Ungaro would be visiting the location.

“They kind of contacted us to let us know he’s coming through, trying to raise awareness for shelters,” he said. “They’re donating a lot of toys and food and stuff like that.”

McTigue said the Michigan Humane Society adopts out anywhere from 150-180 pets per week — dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and more.

Learn more about the Michigan Humane Society by visiting or by calling (248) 283-1000. Read up on Rock & Rawhide by visiting

Petco, 13701 Lakeside Circle, can be reached at (586) 532-8794.