CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated where six rescued puppies are to be flown. After they spend a week in quarantine in Blackshear, they will be flown to the Delaware County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Media, Pennsylvania. A corrected version is below.
Six puppies found abandoned last month behind the Waffle House on Gray Highway will soon find homes thanks to what has turned into a national effort to save them.
Sunday, a volunteer pilot from the rescue group Pilots n’ Paws Pet Rescue Service flew the mixed-breed dogs from the Macon Downtown Airport to Blackshear, where they will spend a week in quarantine before flying off to the Delaware County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Media, Pennsylvania.
What started with local animal rescuers quickly spread to other states, grabbing the attention of other rescue organizations to try to find a place for the puppies before they were euthanized.
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Originally, seven puppies were left behind the Waffle House July 20, but someone spotted the dogs being dumped and called the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office, said Cherie Bland, a local animal rescue volunteer. The culprit was later charged with seven counts of animal abandonment.
The puppies were turned over to Macon-Bibb County Animal Welfare. While one of the puppies was adopted, the others were facing euthanization as the clock on how long they were allowed to stay was winding down. That’s when Bland and fellow volunteer Libbie Walthall put the word out on Facebook seeking help.
“We started doing urgent pleas on Facebook,” Bland said. “We got 1,000 to 2,000 shares.”
One of the people who saw the post was Valerie Young, who publishes Horse Connection Magazine. Young reached out to her friend, actress Pam Grier, who worked to arrange for the puppies to be transported on a Pilots n’ Paws plane.
Locally, Katie Stanley picked up the dogs from the shelter to foster them until the transport could be arranged.
Sunday, Bland, Stanley, Walthall and Macon-Bibb County Commissioner Mallory Jones helped load a Piper Comanche 1960 with the puppies for the 50-minute flight to Blackshear.
Andy White, of Stockbridge, who is the plane’s pilot, said he volunteered once he found out that things needed to fall into place quickly in order to rescue the puppies.
“This is my third mission, and my first with multiple doggies,” he said.
White said Pilots n’ Paws is done on an all-volunteer basis, and the pilots aren’t reimbursed for their expenses.
Reached by phone Sunday, Grier said the organization is crucial to animal rescue across the country.
“The group has incredibly generous pilots,” said Grier, a former Golden Globe nominee for her role in “Jackie Brown.”
Given the midstate’s pet overpopulation problem, Jones and Animal Welfare Director Sarah Tenon were quick to praise the efforts of volunteers such as Bland and Walthall.
“These two ladies do a lot of animal rescue,” he said. “They saved these six puppies who would have been euthanized.”
Tenon said anytime an animal can be rescued from the shelter either by adoption or fostering, it’s a good thing.
“Cherie and Libbie have been a godsend with their networking and connections with animal rescue groups all over the United States,” she said. “Never in my history in Macon have I seen an effort like this go into finding homes for animals. It’s wonderful to have this kind of support in the community. It definitely helps Animal Welfare.”
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.