Animal Services flies two dogs out for adoption - Oconee Enterprise: Lifestyles

     Watkinsville, Oconee County, Georgia

Animal Services flies two dogs out for adoption

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Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2019 6:00 pm

Oconee County Animal Services has found homes for dogs and cats not just in Georgia but in places like New York City and cities in the Midwest. But Honey and Maple, two pit bulls abandoned by their owner on a rental property, recently became Animal Services’ first dogs to be taken to their new home in Florida via airplane.

Honey and Maple took off last Thursday at Athens-Ben Epps Airport in a small plane piloted by Pilots N Paws Pet Rescue volunteers Matt Chase and Will Leineweber.

Pilots N Paws is a non-profit that provides flights to animals seeking rescue, medical attention, emergency shelter or adoption. The effort was coordinated by volunteers of Friends of Oconee County Animal Services.

Honey and Maple were at Oconee County Animal Services for four months and three days before they took their historic flight to their new home in Florida.

“They were in poor condition—you can tell by the scars on their ears, the flies and things that were getting to them,” said Director Crystal Berisko. “They weren’t accustomed to standing on any surfaces besides dirt. … We had to teach them how to walk on a leash.”

Volunteers at the shelter, including Tom Zahrn and his son, Joseph, socialized the dogs so that they were adoptable.

“Our volunteer Mr. Tom Zahrn has worked on all of that with them—taking them out of their kennel, spending time with them, giving them treats, getting them to trust someone again,” said Berisko.

Finding homes for dogs that come from troubling situations can be challenging, which is why Animal Services sometimes seeks homes outside of the state for their animals.

“There’s no glory or fame here, but this is what we do on a daily basis. We love the animals, care for them and make sure we find the right home for them,” said Berisko. “Sometimes it’s not easy to find a home for an animal that has something going on. It lessens our pool of people who are looking to adopt.”

Family members of Kayla McCallister, who was the adoption rescue coordinator, adopted Honey and Maple. Berisko and McCallister previously lived in the West Palm area and are looking forward to visiting with the dogs the next time they’re in the area.

“They look happier than I’ve ever seen them,” said volunteer Tom Zahrn as Honey and Maple walked into Athens-Ben Epps Airport on Thursday morning.

“It’s always worth giving [the animals] a chance, because they don’t ask for the situations they’re put in,” said Berisko as she reflected on the progress Honey and Maple made in her care. “To see those two playing now is incredible.”

For more stories, see the Jan. 24 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, go to or call (706) 769-5175.

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