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Pilot Flies The East Coast Skies Rescuing Dogs From Kill Shelters

Written by: Dina Fantegrossi
Dina Fantegrossi is the Assistant Editor and Head Writer for HomeLife Media. Before her career in writing, Dina was a veterinary technician for more than 15 years.Read more
| Published on November 21, 2016

Jack Merritt describes his life’s passion as a sort of “underground railroad for dogs.” Along with his partner, Julie Altman, Merritt volunteers his time, money and talent to rescuing homeless pups in danger of euthanasia.

He pilots his own aircraft to areas along the east coast where shelters are overcrowded and transports dogs back to Altman’s 6-acre Greenmore Animal Rescue in PA.

Merritt and Altman recently hit the landmark of 1,000 dogs saved since beginning their mission in 2010. The rescue tends to focus on small dogs as they are easier to transport by personal plane.

Merritt is the proud owner of a 1967 single-engine, four-seater Mooney airplane that he flies from West Marlborough, PA to towns with high euthanasia rates like Anderson, SC and Huntington, WV.

He typically gathers about 5 to 6 dogs at a time from shelters, but has transported as many as 15 pups in one trip. Once they arrive back at Altman’s Greenmore Farm they are examined by a veterinarian, vaccinated and put up for adoption.

Greenmore Animal Rescue is a non-profit endeavor consisting of 20 volunteers and 4 employees. Altman’s gorgeous property features 7 horse stables, 4 fenced pastures, a chicken coup, kennel area, and a newly added puppy room. During an average week the rescue processes 7 – 10 new dogs and finds homes or rescue placements for another 7 – 10.


Merritt loves to fly and usually makes at least two rescue trips a month. He happily pays for fuel and travel expenses from his own pocket and takes comfort in knowing that he is playing a role in saving so many innocent lives.

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

Jon and Patrick from PAART met us in Pittsburgh

Posted by Greenmore Farm Animal Rescue on Saturday, April 23, 2016


About a quarter of the dogs rescued are purebreds seized from breeders or given up by owners. Merritt is always on the lookout for dogs in need of his help and finds most of them in the greater Northeast and Appalachian regions.

“Most of the shelters I go to are overcrowded and do not have a spay and neuter culture, so there is a lot more indiscriminate breeding.”

Posted by Greenmore Farm Animal Rescue on Monday, April 11, 2016


To assist Merritt and Altman in their cause, please visit

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