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Chester County Press

A mission of mercy for 13 lucky dogs

09/26/2016 10:29AM ● By J. Chambless

Twelve puppies and one grown dog were brought to Chester County from West Virginia on Friday afternoon.

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

Six small cages full of wagging tails and jiggling ears arrived at the New Garden Flying Field on Friday afternoon, bound for a nearby farm where 13 lucky dogs will find new homes.

Greenmore Farm Animal Rescue in West Grove has been taking in animals since 2010, thanks to the efforts of Julia Altman, who has turned her six-acre property into a haven for animals that were at the end of the line at other shelters.

A couple of times a month, Jack Merritt flies his small plane to shelters up and down the East Coast, collecting animals that are destined for euthanasia and bringing them to Greenmore Farm, where they are given shots, evaluated, and carefully adopted out to loving homes. On Friday, the cages full of wiggling puppies and one grown dog came from the Appalachian region.

Jack Merritt and Julia Altman have been involved in rescuing animals since 2008.

 “We just hit a milestone of 1,000 dogs,” Merritt said as he unloaded cages from the plane. “About 25 percent of the dogs we get in are purebred, because people get them, decide they don't want them and turn them in.” “All of these came from the Raleigh County Humane Society in Beckley, W.Va.,” Merritt said. “Most of the dogs we get at Greenmore come from the Appalachian region, from Ohio to Georgia. It's unusual to have this many puppies,” he said as the tiny dogs yipped and bounced in the cages. “Most of the dogs we typically bring in are young adults.

Merritt said he and Altman “are a team. I just fly them. She's the one that runs the rescue.”

The cages, packed expertly into the narrow cabin of Merritt's plane, were carefully extracted and put on the pavement at the flying field before being packed into Altman's pickup and taken to the six-acre farm. The process took about 10 minutes. The dogs will be evaluated and quarantined until they are available for adoption.

“We bring dogs in from high-kill shelters, get them healthy and find them families,” Altman said as she maneuvered the cages into her pickup truck. “I have a regular job, too – I'm a home care nurse. This is my hobby. We just added a puppy room onto our kennels, so this is the first wave of puppies.”

The farm currently consists of a seven-stall horse stable, four fenced pastures, several sheds and a chicken coop. Rescue dogs are housed in a kennel on the property, as well as in foster homes.

“We have a staff of volunteers,” Merritt said. “We make sure the dogs are vetted and healthy. Because they're puppies, they have to stay a while in a puppy room. There are certain diseases that puppies can get, so they have to be isolated. We make sure they're inoculated. We have a vet in Unionville who's essentially on staff. After about two weeks, we can put them up for adoption. They'll probably get adopted out within another week.”

Merritt said there is a network of pilots involved in shuttling dogs from shelters where they are about to be put to sleep and getting them to safe shelters elsewhere. “It's like a bucket brigade,” he said of the linked pilots who transport the rescued animals.

After 10 minutes, the pickup full of dogs was pulling away from the airport, and 13 little lives were saved.

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To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email [email protected].

Jack Merritt flies several mercy missions each month, bringing unwanted dogs to Greenmore Farm.