US Marines Help Oconee County Shelter With Pet Adoption Event

Dogs. The cats. The Marines. They will all be at the Oconee County Animal Services office on Saturday.

US Marines Corps soldiers and recruits volunteered to help the shelter with a special pet adoption day.

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The community is invited to visit the “Dog Days of Summer” event in a festival atmosphere at the shelter located off US Highway 441 in the community of Farmington from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Marines volunteer out of the United States Marine Recruiting Station located at the Georgia Square Mall off the Atlanta Freeway in Athens, where Master Sgt. Kalib Failing and Cpl. Dylan Walters strives to convince young men and women to join their ranks.

FILE - Cats on Adoption Day in Oconee County are looking for a home.

Volunteering at the shelter, according to Failing, is one way to give back to the community as a service project.

The adoption event includes vendors such as Rutledge’s Nuts and Butts BBQ, Madison’s Scoops Ice Cream, Monster Energy drinks and Watkinsville photographer Wendy Jackson offering animal portraits. Other vendors are also invited.

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“We are trying to get the community to come and see the newly renovated shelter. We want people to know where we are at, adopt animals and have a good time,” said Crystal Beriska, director of the shelter.

The Marines and the shelter successfully bonded when Beriska’s husband, a Morgan County Sheriff’s Office deputy, met Marine recruiters at a high school event in Morgan County.

“We have six staff here at the shelter and we take in 1,000 animals a year, so we talked about a community service project,” Beriska said of her conversation with the Marines.

FILE - Many homeless dogs are looking for a new place to live.

“They helped clear a mile-long walking path behind the shelter because we’re connecting with Heritage Park,” she said.

Having soldiers around is a natural choice for the director of the refuge.

“It’s good because I’m directly linked to the army. My son is in the military, my dad is a Marine, and my husband is a Marine,” she said.

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“They are training quite well with everything we have here. It definitely gives them something different to look forward to. We work hand in hand with each other and that helps the animals socialize and exercise,” Beriska said.

Volunteering at the shelter also helps the network of Marines in the community, she said.

“They are very helpful and respectful. In my opinion, it is an excellent coordination between two entities that are publicly known,” she said.

Beriska also said the shelter works with other animal facilities in nearby counties.

“We’re all pulling ourselves together,” she said. “We have a very good network, be it private, non-profit or government agencies. We are all here for the same reason, to help animals.

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