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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Sep 15, 2020

Retired Animal Cruelty Officer and Spunky Ferret Make Dynamic Duo

By Lori Draz

Her name is Musky, and she is a star! Musky may be just 2 pounds and 12 inches long, but Musky packs powerful pizzazz into every minute of her “second life.”

Musky has gone from being a pet ferret, abandoned into the wild by her former owner, to being found and delivered to the Monmouth County SPCA, to having her own book, line of clothing and gifts, and her own Facebook page with 6,000 followers.

Musky’s irresistible charisma has melted many hearts, especially Matty Giuliano who knew within minutes that Musky was destined to be a part of his family. Giuliano had never owned a ferret but now he owns a celebrity.

“We were in the final hours of the MCSPCA’s Clear Out the Shelter event, and Musky was the last exotic left. I took a look and I was hooked. I slapped my name on the adoption cage and told the staff, ‘She is coming home with me!’”

And when Giuliano talks, people listen. He is a retired animal cruelty officer in New Jersey with a personality and heart just as big as Musky’s. After completing nearly 2,000 cruelty investigations, Giuliano answered a higher calling. He received his Interfaith Ordination from the Universal Life Church, followed by his ordination as an Animal Chaplain from the Emerson Theological Institute. Giuliano now serves as the chaplain for the Monmouth County SPCA, Police Benevolent Association #394, and is a Faith Ally with the Humane Society of the United States.

Giuliano reflected on his service as a cruelty officer. “Even the toughest guys aren’t ever truly prepared for this line of work,” he said. “You see things that you just can’t wrap your head around. Whether the crimes are from neglect and lack of the owner’s education or from pure abuse situations like trafficking and dog fighting, they make a big impact on you. You have to accept that you can save most but not all and that you are that lifeline to so many voiceless victims.”

When you talk with the gregarious former New Yorker, he shifts on a dime from no-nonsense former officer to compassionate spiritual counselor, quoting comforting scriptures and inspirational quotes. One of his favorites comes from Saint Francis of Assisi: “Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them. But to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission… to be of service to them whenever they require it.”

As the chaplain at the MCSPCA, Giuliano is available anytime and in any way he is needed, and his services are always free. He regularly offers spiritual and emotional support for the MSPCA’s patrons, volunteers, officers and staff. He is available for pet blessings, prayer before medical procedures and before euthanasia. He also conducts funerals, memorials services, blessing of cremains and bereavement counseling. He welcomes everyone’s call and is always happy to provide spiritual comfort.

Giuliano’s family has included many pets, along with his 21-year-old son, Dylan; 14-year-old daughter, Victoria; and his ever-patient wife, whom he lovingly calls Saint Stephanie of Our Lady of Hazlet. The Giuliano’s home now includes four dogs – Bat Dog, Bandit, Daisy and Minnie HaHa as well as Sativa the cat who is Musky’s personal feline assistant.

Giuliano wrote the book “My Name Is Musky” to inspire people to adopt and never give up. All the proceeds of the book go to the MCSPCA and to ferret charities. Recently, when the parents of a ferret named Romeo could not afford his life-saving splenectomy surgery, the Giulianos donated $1,345 from the book proceeds, and Save US Pets donated $1,000 to Red Bank Veterinary Hospital.

When it came to publishing the book, Giuliano called upon his Musky-like “never say never” determination.

“Writing the book was hard enough,” he admitted. “Then I came upon this incredibly talented illustrator from Atlantic Highlands named Morgan Spicer who brought my vision to life.”

Spicer is the founder of Bark Point Studio. She has illustrated more than 30 children’s books since she graduated from Syracuse University’s Illustration Program in 2012. She and her husband own four rescue dogs, and she has donated a percentage of her commissions from her thousands of custom illustrations to local and international animal rescue groups.

“Together, we created this very special book,” Giuliano said. “The next hurdle was getting it published, so I thought I would just start my own publishing company, which I called Humane Press. We’ve also added Musky shirts, mugs, keychains and even Musky masks.”

Since publishing the book, Musky’s popularity took off. Giuliano often brings Musky to his book signings and appearances where her new fans get to watch her play and even catch a whiff of that unique ferret smell. The two have traveled to many cities, appeared at ferret conventions and been on radio and TV. Musky has also become a popular classroom book, and Giuliano has even created a free “My Name Is Musky” Humane Education Companion Manual for teachers.

Despite their busy schedule, Musky and Giuliano still make daily Facebook posts to the ferret’s always-growing army of fans.

If you would like to see Musky, order your own pawtographed book or contact Matty Giuliano for an appearance or for spiritual counseling, visit MyNameIsMusky.com or call 732-616-3166.