What does Craig Moritz do when he's not touring, performing shows, recording in Nashville, or hanging at the dog park with his four dogs - Dakota, Gizmo, Stella and Kramer? Well, he works with Cats and Dogs International (CANDi) helping animals.
For those of you who don't know Craig well, he is a huge animal lover and an incredibly engaged animal advocate.
In spring of 2011, he teamed up with CANDi and he has since been to Mexico for three animal sterilization clinics. He's returned to Canada with numerous animals who he helped find loving 'forever families' for. He also returned to Canada with Stella and Kramer.
On his recent trip to Mexico, Craig was set to work with CANDi, Isla Animals and numerous volunteers and local animal organizations, then after he would stay down to film two music videos ('If I Were a Pirate, and 'Christmas Down in Mexico').
On one of the clinic days, Craig was standing outside when a truck rolled up and a man (who couldn't speak English) was urging Craig to help while he managed to indicate 'Emergency, Emergency!' in English.
Being in Mexico, Craig was cautious as the man motioned for Craig to get in the truck with him. Craig rounded up some local volunteers, hopped in the truck without telling anyone where they were off to - because he didn't even know.
Racing through the back streets in Mexico, the truck finally arrived at a house where a dog was found huddling in the yard. There was blood everywhere. Craig and a local (Adrian) grabbed the dog and called a volunteer at the clinic as they raced back with the injured animal.
With a minute to prepare, the volunteer vets (on site with VIDAS for the sterilization clinic) set up an operating table, and as soon as the dog arrived started working on her.
Three hours later, and with only her one eye lost, the dog's surgery was over.
In the meantime, the story of what happened to the pure bred cocker spaniel started to be pieced together.
It's alleged that the 21-year-old husband of the 15-year-old owner arrived home drunk and angry, and he took his anger out on the dog by taking a machete to its head.
During the dog's recovery, the volunteers named her Hule (oooh-lay) meaning 'rubber band' because she bounced back so quickly. A true fighter, Hule survived an attack that would have left her dead had Craig and the incredible volunteers and vets not been able to get her to the clinic for surgery.
Craig spent time with Hule during her recovery from surgery and joined many others in comforting the dog after such a traumatic experience.
Andrea Sekula, CANDi's transport coordinator and foster to Hule in Cozumel, reached out to the social media superpowers, and a plea rang loudly over Facebook as CANDi and volunteers tried to find a way to get Hule to Canada and in better care so she could get the additional treatment she required.
And on Wednesday, February 1, 2012 Hule landed in Toronto, Ontario where she will be cared for, given the additional medical help she needs to heal, and has been adopted by her new forever family.
As for her previous owners, information is still being sorted out. Craig last heard reports of the girl's father (a police officer) searching for the man who attacked Hule. It's also rumoured that authorities are going to try and enforce a penalty unlike anything Mexico has seen before in animal abuse cases.
If this does happen, it would be unprecedented and hopefully establish harsher penalties for animal abusers in Mexico. This would be something welcomed by Craig and CANDi, as they see too many cases like this during their work in the country.
As sad as this story is, there is a happy ending, and Hule now has a chance at living a good life in Canada. Sometimes something terrible has to happen in order for people to be made aware of an issue so we can help and make necessary changes.
With thanks to Global TV, the Toronto Star and Postmedia, the story of Hule has reached people across Canada, and support for Hule has been overwhelming.
Supporters of Craig and CANDi, as well as animal lovers across the nation, have taken to Facebook and Twitter to show their support and share this remarkable story of survival.
Craig is often asked why he chooses to support animals in countries outside of the one he lives in rather than support local humane shelters and organization. While Craig wishes he could help animals everywhere, the reality is that Canada and the U.S. have many humane and protection organizations already in place. There is, however, absolutely zero help for strays in these communities in Mexico - no SPCA/Humane Society/Animal Protection organizations. This is why Craig and CANDi are committed to working where they work.
However, Hule's story will help save numerous lives of other animals in Mexico, Canada and beyond. Being aware of the problem of animal abuse is only step one. Step two is doing something to stop it.
We are all capable of helping.
Share these stories, support volunteers like Craig and CANDi, and report animal abuse when you suspect or see it.
Remember, YOU have power to help and create many more happy tales like the story of Hule.