TO THE RES­CUE

Lo­cal cou­ple sav­ing dogs marked for death

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Fran Maye fmaye@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @ken­nettpa­per on Twit­ter

WEST MARL­BOR­OUGH

>> About seven to eight mil­lion com­pan­ion an­i­mals are put to death in the United States ev­ery year, mostly be­cause an­i­mal shel­ters are be­com­ing over­crowded. But a lo­cal cou­ple is help­ing to save some of these an­i­mals by fly­ing to ar­eas where dogs are on death row.

Just re­cently, in fact, the cou­ple, Jack Mer­ritt and Ju­lia Alt­man, hit a mile­stone of 1,000 dogs saved.

“There is a need in this area for friendly adopt­able an­i­mals,” Mer­ritt said. “Many are just min­utes away from be­ing put to death.”

About twice a month, Mer­ritt flies his 1967, sin­gle-en­gine, four-seater Mooney air­plane out of New Gar­den Fly­ing Field to shel­ters up and down the East Coast, gath­er­ing small dogs tar­geted for euthana­sia. He brings most of them to Green­more Farm, which sits on 6 acres on Up­land Road, where they are vet­ted, given shots and put up for adop­tion.

“We are like the un­der­ground rail­road for dogs,” Mer­ritt said. “Most of the dogs find their way into res­cues. Most of the shel-

“It’s an ex­pen­sive en­deavor, but this is my av­o­ca­tion.” — Jack Mer­ritt

ters I go to are over­crowded and do not have a spay and neuter cul­ture, so there is a lot more in­dis­crim­i­nate breed­ing.”

Mer­ritt, who is a board mem­ber of the Bucks County SPCA, says he takes mainly small dogs be­cause he can fit more on the plane. Most times he can fit five or six dogs on his air­plane, but his record is 15 small dogs. Typ­i­cally, he flies solo, or some­times

with his part­ner, Alt­man, owner of Green­more An­i­mal Res­cue, which has seven horse sta­bles and four fenced pas­tures and a chicken coop.

The cost of the fuel for the air­plane and all other re­lated ex­penses come di­rectly from Mer­ritt’s pocket. He does it, he said, be­cause it’s his pas­sion.

“I think if we can leave this earth a lit­tle bet­ter than we found it, then you are a suc­cess,” Mer­ritt said. “It’s an ex­pen­sive en­deavor, but this is my av­o­ca­tion.”

Green­more An­i­mal Res­cue is a non­profit agency

and has 20 ac­tive vol­un­teers and four em­ploy­ees. Dur­ing a typ­i­cal week, seven to 10 dogs come in to the shel­ter; and seven to 10 dogs go out. A puppy room was re­cently built onto the kennel, en­sur­ing that the ven­ture will be long term.

Mer­ritt says he is al­ways on the troll for an­i­mals marked for death in high-kill shel­ters, and most of them are lo­cated in the Greater Northeast and Ap­palachian re­gion, places like An­der­son, South Carolina, and Hunt­ing­ton, West Vir­ginia.

Mer­ritt says he enjoys

the flights, and is com­forted he is sav­ing the lives of all his small pas­sen­gers. He re­called one flight where a dachs­hund got out of his crate, and made his way to the cock­pit area, where he flew the en­tire flight on Mer­ritt’s shoul­der, en­joy­ing the scenery.

About a quar­ter of the dogs Mer­ritt re­trieves are pure­bred, ei­ther be­cause they were abused by own­ers, or be­cause the own­ers de­cided they did not want them.

To do­nate to the tax-exempt mis­sion, visit www. green­mor­eres­cue.org.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Jack Mer­ritt with “Red,” one of the dachshunds he res­cued re­cently. The dog es­caped from its cage on the plane, and sat on Mer­ritt’s shoul­der dur­ing the plane ride.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Some of the pup­pies res­cued re­cently by Jack Mer­ritt and his sin­gle-en­gine air­plane. The dogs were marked for death.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Jack Mer­ritt com­forts a dog af­ter a res­cue flight.

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