Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Month 3 of 48: Second Chance Center for Animals



There’s just a little bit going on in this country right now – Travel Ban; Russia; Healthcare; Ben Carson being completely ignorant. While we aren’t suggesting that you lose focus on these important issues, we are suggesting a puppy break. Or a kitty break if that’s more your speed.

This month we shift our focus to Second Chance Center for Animals, an organization in our community doing incredible work on behalf of our four-legged friends. Cristy and I sort of informally agreed to take turns writing posts for this blog. But, seeing that her entire family is allergic to anything with fur, and they have zero intention of owning anything more difficult than a beta fish, we decided that I (Jacki) should probably tackle this one.

I was nervous. I’ve never actually set foot in an animal shelter. I got my rescue dog from someone who found her in a Target parking lot. I can’t watch movies or read books where animals die. Don’t get me started on Sarah McLachlan and those freaking ASPCA commercials. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to leave there without an armful of animals because I would be SO sad for them.

Jacki and her rescue dog, Zee.
Like so many things with this 48 Months project, the reality didn’t match up with what I expected. Second Chance is a HAPPY place, full of hope, love, and adorable fur babies. Their focus is on showcasing positive interactions between animals and humans, and preparing these animals for a future in their forever homes.

Jamey Hasapis, the Volunteer & Events Manager at Second Chance, toured me around the property and I was blown away at the size and scope of the facility, and the programs they have designed with a small staff and a robust volunteer base.

Second Chance works with 38 animal rescue partners in four different states, and works closely with the Coconino Humane Association, to accommodate about 100 animals at a time. The feline residents’ accommodations include a background of classical music, rocking chairs for volunteers to hang out, and an outdoor “catio” area. I made friends with Socks, an 18-pound ball of love who reminded me of my cat from growing up. He was mercifully adopted later in the week so I didn’t have to start my aggressive “let’s get a cat” campaign with my cat-averse husband.

The canine set also receives the royal treatment at Second Chance, with an adjacent five acres for walks, and practice for the real world in the staged “living room” funded by a grant from Walmart. And all of the animals benefit from the enrichment garden, where they grow veggies (pumpkin, etc.) for dogs and catnip, aka kitty crack, for the cats.

Even though Second Chance wasn’t open to the public on the day I visited, it was bustling with volunteers. There is a giant whiteboard in the volunteer room that gives them direction on what needs to be done each day. Not so into animals (ahem, Cristy)? – tend the garden or stuff cat toys. On that particular day, there was a special request to socialize Grumpy and Sleepy, two of the resident Chihuahuas. Even if you’re not looking to come home with a new furry friend, go visit Second Chance. I promise it’s an uplifting experience, unlike those Sarah McLachlan commercials.

How can you help?

Cash: Second Chance is always looking for donations that can help continue its existing programs and allow them to develop new programs. Donations can be made directly on the website at http://secondchancecenter.org/.  

Donations: Second Chance is fortunate to have a partnership with Nestle Purina that provides them food for the shelter animals. But, they are always looking for toys, blankets, and non-dog food items like canned pumpkin and canned sweet potato.

Events: This is where Second Chance shines – they put on some amazing events throughout the year!

April 22 – Paws and Claws Circus
 A "muttly" crew at the first Barks and Brews event
This is the first time they have done an event AT the shelter, and it will feature the amazing acrobatics of Dark Sky Aerial. Tickets are $75 and information can be found at: http://secondchancecenter.org/circus/

June 25 - Pets in the Pines
Second Chance and other northern Arizona rescue groups gather together to showcase shelter animals, encourage adoptions, and offer information and activities for all pets. http://secondchancecenter.org/pets-in-the-pines/

TBD – Barks and Brews
A walking pub crawl through downtown Flagstaff with your dog? Sign me up. We did the inaugural event last fall and it was a blast! http://secondchancecenter.org/barks-and-brews/

Volunteer: Second Chance runs an impressive volunteer program, with opportunities for all ages and interests. Training is required for some of the volunteer tasks, but one thing I loved is that volunteers are NEVER left sitting there with nothing to do. This is an organization that truly relies on its volunteers to operate each and every day. http://secondchancecenter.org/volunteer/

Animal Interactions: If you’re not quite ready to make a full-time commitment to animal ownership, Second Chance offers some great opportunities to test the waters. You can sign a dog out for a day to do a hike, or make a full one-night commitment with the “Slumber Party Pooches” program that allows participants to foster a dog for a night. Running and dogs go together like peas and carrots, and this is the program I’m most excited to try out:

Running Buddies: A partnership between Second Chance and Run Flagstaff, the Running Buddies Program is just what it sounds like – a weekly run with one of the shelter dogs. Sign up at http://secondchancecenter.org/blog/running-buddy-program/

For those who don’t live in Flagstaff, we encourage you to reach out to your own rescue organizations or Humane Associations! Even if you’re not looking to adopt, you can offer your support!  

-Jacki Lenners

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