August 26, 2013

Hannah Takes Flight! Abused Mastiff Gets 1st Class Travel to New Rescue!

News Article on Hannah - Donations for Hannah and Sophia can be made on our website ( and can also be made directly to the vets office at Essex Middle River Vet Center- (410) 687-1111 or 1609 Eastern Boulevard, Essex, Maryland 21221. Be sure to mention Mastiffs to Mutts so the proper account gets credit for any donation.

A very special flight, first class direct from Port Jervis, New York to Martin State Airport arrived on Friday morning, Aug. 2. The only passenger was an injured young adult English Mastiff named Hannah, and her journey to Maryland was the result of the altruism and hard work of many individuals. Maryland State Trooper Kevin Zarzecki was instrumental in securing care and coordinating transportation for Hannah. "The state police department is very much about serving others, and I view my job as a platform to help serve people," he said. "In this case, it's especially rewarding because I'm helping someone who doesn't have a voice." Tpr. Zarzecki became aware of Hannah's plight when he was contacted by Peggy Benoit, rescue coordinator for Mastiffs to Mutts, Inc., a non-profit animal rescue based out of Chambersburg, Pa. Tpr. Zarzecki had adopted a mastiff from the rescue previously and had remained involved in their work, helping to conduct background checks on prospective adopters in the area. "We want to make sure people are going to treat them right," he explained. "It's great to meet people and know they're really enthusiastic about taking an animal. It means a lot to know that there are people out there that care." In Hannah's case, the focus for Tpr. Zarzecki was on securing the medical care that she needed to rehabilitate before finding a new home. Hannah was found abandoned in a small town in upstate New York suffering from severe injuries after an unknown person or persons hit her over the head with a lead pipe or similar object. The shelter who initially took her was planning to euthanize the animal, until Mastiffs to Mutts heard about the case. "It's truly amazing that she's still here. She has such a will to live," Tpr. Zarzecki marvelled. Inspired by Hannah's spirit, he made some phone calls and Dr. Joe Zulty of Essex Middle River Veterinary Center agreed to take Hannah on as a patient. But first, she had to get here. That's where Scott Messinger comes in. Messinger is a licensed pilot who volunteers with Pilots N Paws, a certified charity with over 3,000 pilots who transport animals from kill shelters to no-kill shelters. He volunteered his time, his plane and all the fuel costs of the two and a half hour journey. He also paid out-of-pocket for Hannah to have her left eye returned to its socket. "As soon as I heard this story I knew we had to help," Messinger said. A veteran of Pilots N Paws, Messinger has been with the organization for three years and has flown over 2,000 dogs. Hannah was a "very sweet and docile passenger," according to Messinger. "It's just a delight having these animals in the plane." He and Hannah landed at the airport on Friday morning after bad weather delayed the flight by one day. Tpr. Zarzecki was there with his patrol car to meet Hannah and escort her to the vet. Hannah arrived in good spirits. "She's such a sweetheart," Tpr. Zarzecki said, and other airport staff who greeted her said the same as she allowed herself to be petted, walked as well as she could obediently on the leash, and let herself be lifted into and out of vehicles and buildings with no complaint. Dr. Zulty of Essex Middle River Veterinary Center gave Hannah a preliminary examination shortly after her arrival, and noted that in addition to the deep recess on the left side of her head, the five- to eight-year-old dog was underweight and suffering from ataxia; her right hind leg was very weak and Hannah had difficulty controlling it. Hannah is scheduled to receive an MRI and a consult with a veterinary neurologist to determine what can be done to improve her symptoms. For Tpr. Zarzecki, helping the community, even its four-legged members like Hannah, is why he became a police officer in the first place. "I go to schools sometimes and ask kids what the most important part of my job is. And it's not arresting bad guys or giving tickets- it's helping people. I want to be like a role model for others." For more information about Mastiffs to Mutts, Inc. or to make a donation to help fund Hannah's care, visit Pilots N Paws has pictures and stories of dogs like Hannah that they have helped over the years, as well as options for donating, on their website,

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I train dogs using positive reinforcement training to modify unwanted behaviors.  I step outside the traditional training box and use therapeutic-grade essential oils to assist in my behavior modification regime when it comes to dogs plagued with fear and anxiety as well as aggression.  My philosophy is to heal the dog's mind, body and spirit, not just to rid the dog of unacceptable behaviors.  I specialize in shelter dog rehab, reactive rover, and fearful fidos.