NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A teen running with a dangerous crowd was on the brink of losing it all, but he found a new direction courtesy of some canines.

As CBS2’s Kristine Johnson explained, he helped them as much as they helped him.

“Seeing your friend dead as a teenager, it’s to the point where you don’t even cry anymore,” Stephen ‘Face’ Edghill said, “The police would call it a gang, but it was a bunch of us guys in the neighborhood. We did all kinds of crazy stuff.”

Gang or not, as a teen Edghill, better known as Face, was clearly headed in the wrong direction.

“Stealing cars,” he said. “I got arrested once and that was enough for me.”

He said police paraded him in front of his whole neighborhood.

“I pretty much stopped then, but a lot of my friends didn’t stop. They got deported, some got killed,” he said.

After that, Face knew he needed a new direction. He found it rescuing animals. He said it’s his calling.

“The animals rescued me. They changed my life,” he said.

For the last five years he’s been a volunteer with Guardians of Rescue, a no-kill shelter on Long Island.

He has a truck loaded with fencing, and a ready-to-build kennel. He even provides dog food for those who need it.

“Sometimes it’s scary, sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s sad,” he said.

After being part of dozens of rescues, he said it’s always satisfying.

“When you look into a dog’s eyes you see the emotion. Dogs talk to you,” he said.

Now Face is talking too, taking his message into schools.

“I do this because it makes me feel better. i wake up feeling better every day, knowing I rescued an animal,” he said. “I went the right path, and that’s why I’m here today to be able to tell you my story. Some people can’t do that.”

It seems he’s getting through.

“I thought it was great that he actually separated from all his friends that were influencing him to do terrible things,” Hayden Camarda said.

“Now it makes me want to help animals more,” Hanna Schonhoff added.

Face credits his furry friends.

“The animals put me on the right path. They’re putting me on the right path. They’re actually taking me on a path that I didn’t know existed,” he said.

For his animal rescues and school talks Face uses vacation days, or takes unpaid days off from work — he said it’s all worth it to him.