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For the love of the homeless: DL native Luke Pechmann poses for animal adoption pin-up calendar

Detroit Lakes native, professional swimmer Luke Pechmann, is one of 13 men featured in the 2018 RescueMen USA charity calendar. The calendar is sold nationwide online to promote the adoption of companion animals from shelters. Submitted photo by Rita Earl / Courtesy of RescueMen USA

Luke Pechmann has always had a soft spot for abandoned animals.

Growing up, he was forever finding stray cats and kittens in his Detroit Lakes neighborhood and taking them in. He'd give them shelter from the cold and keep them well fed until he could find permanent homes for them. He's rescued a few dogs in this way, too. He has an uncanny knack for stumbling across animals in need, and a heart that's too big to let him just walk away without helping.

"I've always loved animals," he said.

Pechmann's a grown man now, but his soft spot for strays hasn't hardened over time. He's still finding ways to care for them—but now, as a professional swimmer living in Los Angeles, his ability to make a difference has expanded way beyond the borders of his old hometown neighborhood. He's becoming a national advocate for pet adoption.

Pechmann is one of 13 men featured in a new charity pin-up calendar that promotes an "adopt, not shop" message and raises money for animals in shelters. Called The Tails of RescueMen USA, the 2018 calendar is available online at rescuemen.org, for a $25 donation.

"The calendar is the cornerstone of the RescueMen USA campaign to promote the adoption of animals over the idea of purchasing them," said Felicia Greenfield, an actress who co-created the campaign with casting director Jen Halpern. "We just feel it's such an important message, and we were really excited to come up with this way to get our message out there with smiles, positivity and happiness."

The calendars feature the men, their rescue animals and the true stories of how they came together. This is the fourth year that RescueMen USA has produced such a calendar. Greenfield said she and Halpern try to spotlight men from all walks of life "who are role models and have adopted pets or a history with adopted pets."

They discovered Pechmann through his agent, and his inclusion in the calendar "was a no-brainer," said Greenfield. "He's such a 'calendar man.' ...And he's a big advocate for rescue animals."

Pechmann was new to the RescueMen campaign, but he agreed to be featured in the calendar because, "It seemed to be a good fit and a fun project and a good cause."

Though Pechmann doesn't currently have a rescued animal of his own, he's formed strong bonds with his roommate's two adopted dogs, Jackson and Inka, and spends as much time with them as possible. Jackson, an elderly dog that was rescued after being abandoned in Beverly Hills, is pictured with him in the calendar. They're posed in front of a pool—an appropriate backdrop for Pechmann, who's well known for his swimming talents.

A Minnesota State champion, All American, former division 1 swimmer at the University of Arizona, Pechmann is currently training for his fourth U.S. Olympic Trials. In the 2016 Trials he placed 20th in the 50-freestyle, with a time of 22.59.

Pechmann got his start in the Detroit Lakes Sunfish program and swam for the Detroit Lakes School District until his senior year, when he transferred to Moorhead High School. He was an Olympic Trials qualifier at the age of 17.

These days, when he's not in the pool, Pechmann keeps busy running a health and lifestyle website, a social media consulting business, and doing some occasional modeling. He is also launching his own organic supplement line. He makes it back to Detroit Lakes a few times a year to visit friends and family.

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Detroit Lakes Tribune in November 2017 after several years of writing and editing at the Perham Focus. She lives in rural Frazee with her husband, Dan, their young son and daughter, and their yellow Lab.

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