The long road home, the lessons learned and the love left behind…
Nellie’s Second Chance
When I first met Nellie (the shelter staff and volunteers knew her as Socks, as that was her name when she was surrendered), I gave her a new name for her new start. I knew she was smart, probably the smartest dog I have met at the shelter, but she needed help dealing with her emotions. I think she understood her problems and was willing to work on them once I earned her trust. Little did I know that she would help me just as much dealing with my mine. In the nine months we worked and played and walked together we, at times, would need to comfort each other and build each other’s confidence. And that we did. I was certain we had a lot to learn from each other but I was not prepared for all that she would become to me along the way. Student, teacher, friend, my rock, my girl, my Nellie.
9 months in the shelter, countless Dog’s Days Out, miles of trails, lots of hard work and just a few days before her 4th birthday, Nellie went home and I smiled through the tears.
Oh, Nellie. I knew this one was going to be tough and it was. I knew I would have trouble letting her go and I did. I knew that my emotions would be all over the place when she finally went home. They were. I knew I was going to miss her terribly and I do. I love volunteering and I love this work and I love all these shelter dogs. But Nell is special. She will always hold a special place in my heart.
Nellie was there for me and helped me grieve the loss of both of my parents. She was a great comfort to my family on the day my father died. I stopped at the shelter on my way to my childhood home and picked up Nell as I knew she would be a good companion. She gave hugs to my mother and sister and rolled around on the floor with my brother as we all came to terms with the loss. She was a great comfort and beautiful distraction. My father would have loved her if he got to meet her. Three months later it was Nell that walked with me before my mother’s wake as I tried to process all that had happened and it was her, I visited after the funeral just to spend time with my friend.
So, I met her potential adopters. I told them all I knew about her and everything they should know and of course they saw how special she is and decided to give Nellie her Second Chance. So, after both of Nellie and I had a bit of a meltdown, I walked her over to the car where she sat and waited for the door to open and it did and she jumped in. Everyone was saying good bye to her. When a dog like Nell is at the shelter that long I think everyone gets more attached than they realize. There were tears, there were smiles, and then there was whatever it was I was feeling. She poked her head out from the back seat, paws on the center console, like always, and that smile on her face. Finally, I lowered my head, ducked into the car, and grabbed her face, kissed her on the nose, told her I loved her and then; I watched them drive away.
This is what she worked so hard for. This is why we sat in my car in the dead of winter reading books and watching videos and taking courses. This is what I wanted for her since she walked into the shelter 9 months ago. This is what I promised her. This is her second chance. These are wonderful people that really seem to get her and are willing to continue her conditioning and take her on through this next chapter of her life. This is a good thing. I should be happy, and I am. But I really am going to miss my friend, my teacher, my rock, my girl, My Nellie.
Happy Birthday Nellie
Mike -long time SCAS volunteer
Nellie is finally home! Her family tells us she is doing amazing. She’s making lots of friends including the security guards that she visits every night. She needs to say hi to them and sit in their laps for a few minutes before bed.
Helping Dogs Rescued from the South Korean Meat Trade
To look at one-year old Liam, an adorable Labrador retriever mix, you would be hard pressed to guess all that he’s been through in his short life. Liam eyes every visitor to the dog room at the Adoption Center and barks to make sure he’s got your attention. Liam is one of five dogs that we brought back from a Maryland rehabilitation center last month. They were part of a group of approximately 120 dogs rescued from the South Korean Meat Trade that were being cared for by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
Second Chance has long partnered with the HSUS as an emergency placement partner and we are often called upon to help with cases like this. South Korea is currently contemplating a dog meat ban and the farm where Liam and the other dogs came from is transitioning to growing cabbage and other crops through the Humane Society International/South Korea’s “Model for Change Program”. We are proud to work with the HSUS to give these dogs the best start at a new life.
All five dogs are doing amazing. They’ve obviously been through a lot in their short lives, but the dogs have made great progress. They were so shy when we first met them, and we have been in awe watching them get brave enough to explore our play yard and begin to come out of their shells.
Since they’ve never had the chance to be a dog, they will need patient families who can help with things like walking on leash who are ready to give them the great life they deserve. Liam is currently available for adoption. Jackson, Star and Buttons are still at the our Almost Home facility in North Brookfield where shelter pets entering Massachusetts complete their state-mandated 48-hour quarantine and receive any care they may need before they are ready for adoption. They are just waiting for kennel space to open up at the adoption center so they too can find their forever homes. The fifth pup is being fostered and we suspects he has already stolen his foster’s heart.
If you are interested in adopting one of these special pups, you can find the available dogs’ bios on our adoptable dog page or come visit during adoption hours: Monday through Friday – 10am to 3pm, Thursday evenings from 5 to 7pm and Saturdays from 11am to 4pm.
Want to help more pets like Liam get their second chance? Your donation can save lives! Thank you.
She lead the way across the open field heading back to the parking lot when I saw a man waving at me. He asked if he could say hi to my dog and we approached a couple on a morning walk. “We just said good-bye to our dog of 15 years” he told me with that crack in his voice that I know all too well. “I could see her looking at us and I just needed to say hi.”
“She’s not my dog. She lives at Second Chance Animal shelter,” I told the older couple that wanted to introduce themselves to my little black companion. “They call her Socks, I call her Nelly or Nell.” She approached the man and rose on her hind legs and gave him a hug. He smiled and laughed and hugged her back. I told her down, she sat down in front of him. I made a click sound with my mouth and she turned and came to me. I gave her the hand cue to sit. She sat. I gave her the hand cue to lay down. She did. I told her to come up, she came up and got a treat. “She has me trained well.” I smiled at them.
“She is such a good girl,” they said. “She’s so smart,” they noticed. She sat beside me as we spoke and then she approached the woman and startled her as she jumped up to give her a hug too. She laughed and petted her and hugged her back. “She is so sweet.”
“She’s a hugger,” I said, grinning.
I told them I take her out a couple times a week. We discussed her life at the shelter and the training and conditioning we have been doing together. They told me I was a good person for doing what I was doing. What they did not know is that this girl has done as much for me as I have done for her. Nell came into my life and into the shelter at a time when I needed her and I knew that she was going to need me. And so, she became “my girl” from that day until the day she goes to her new home.
So, because of the amazing program at Second Chance called ‘Dogs Day Out’ this girl and I have spent so much time together these past few months. We have hiked a lot of miles in the summer heat, playing in the autumn leaves and walking briskly through the winter snow and wind. I took a week off from work at the beginning of the fall and spent it with her and we hiked almost 50 miles in 6 days at about 10 different locations. She is truly a great companion. She is a great friend. She is a great dog.
I’ve been volunteering at SCAS for years now and every pup I have met is amazing in their own way. Some I only meet once and never see them again and some stay longer so I get to know them better. I get dogs, I just get them. And now and again I meet one that just gets me. And this girl gets me. You see, eventually I plan to work with dogs/animals full time; so behavior and training are things I am constantly studying and reading about. I’m always trying to develop my conditioning methods and skills so, finding a girl like Nell that is so intelligent and emotionally complex was like finding a real hidden gem. A true diamond in the ruff!
I started this blog with the story about the couple mourning the passing of their beloved dog and wanting to say hi to Socks/Nell for a reason. I tell that story because it is not the only time it happened. There have been several times where someone asked if they could say hi to her. Because she was looking at them like she wanted to say hi. And she walked over and hugged them, and they smile and laugh and embrace her and tear up and with that crack in their voice that tells me that they just lost their dog. Coincidence? Maybe. Or does she just have a sense? I don’t know but it has happened enough that it makes me wonder.
If I had the home and the yard that she needs and deserves she would be my girl forever. There is no question about that. But I have made a promise to her. I promised her that with all my heart, the staff and I would find her the perfect people to take her home for good and give her the Second Chance that she deserves.
If my girl sound like the friend you are looking for come by and say hi and maybe we can all go for a hike. Or maybe just stop in for a free hug.
Mike -long time SCAS volunteer
Blue was just a young husky pup when he was surrendered to Second Chance by a local animal control officer. He was clearly uncomfortable and pawing at his red eyes. Upon closer examination, our vets found he had limited to no vision, possibly from birth. He needed to start daily eye medication right away and needed an experienced foster so he could begin treatment. Thankfully Second Chance works with many rescue groups. A contact that had worked with a husky rescue for years was able to temporarily foster this pup and helped find a long term foster while Blue’s medical needs were addressed.
Blue found a true champion when he met his foster. She had adopted rescue huskies for many years, most had been abused or neglected. She’d never had a blind dog before, but she was determined to help Blue and did some quick research.
She ordered blind toys like meat scented fetching balls & squeaky toys and also ordered a scent kit to put certain scents with certain things. The food and water bowls got one scent, dangerous areas like stairs got another scent.
“Mostly, it was just spending time with him and teaching him that when I say, “wait,” he needs to stop until I say something else. I.E.- I say, “wait” at the top of the stairs, and then I say, “step” for each stair he needs to walk down. In all honesty, he figured out my house and yard very quickly based upon his own trial & error. The eye doctor said he’s very adaptable because he’s been blind for most of his life. I really thought he’d require much more work.
He’s smart and sweet. The real secret for Blue was the same as every husky, daily exercise. Our beach walk keeps him very satisfied for the rest of the day. My husband passed from cancer in March and my two 13-year-old huskies passed within the last year, so frankly Blue has done more for me than I for him.”
We are happy to report that this foster has fallen for Blue and last week he was officially ADOPTED!
A shelter dog who had amputation surgery for a birth defect has found a forever home with an eight-year-old boy who can relate.
11-week-old Baby Yoda arrived at Second Chance on transport last month from a crowded Missouri shelter with a congenital defect. He was born without a radius in one leg. As you can see in the photo below, his leg was abnormally shaped and shortened. He could not bend it or place weight on it and when he tried to use the leg, it caused him to contort his body which put him at risk of arthritis and injury to his body.
Baby Yoda’s surgery was successful. In no time, he was hopping around like a champ, ready for his ‘second chance.’ That chance came when a family saw him on our website and rushed to meet him. It turns out their eight-year-old son had something in common with Baby Yoda:
“We were browsing the shelters and came across Yoda. My eight-year-old son had an above the knee amputation due to being born with a birth defect, more specifically, with only one bone in his leg rather than two. Baby Yoda would make a perfect addition to our family.”
We are grateful to everyone who contributed to the fundraiser to make Baby Yoda’s surgery possible, and we are thrilled that Baby Yoda has found such a perfect forever home.
Finian was just 25 lbs when he came to us, severely malnourished, dehydrated and anemic. He had been eating anything he could, just to survive and was living in extremely harsh conditions when he was seized by local law enforcement and signed over to Second Chance. He weighed only 25 pounds when a dog his size should be 45 pounds. He also tested positive for heartworm, Lyme disease and anaplasmosis, but we had to focus on getting his weight up slowly so we don’t make him sicker after not eating a good diet for so long.
He’s made great strides and last week he came in for his first immiticide treatment for heartworm. He did great. And he is over 40 lbs!!
He got love from everyone at the hospital and was excited to see all of us. We are so grateful for all the support to make his second chance possible. THANK YOU!
He LOVES to play ball and is looking for his forever home. To learn more, visit: secondchanceanimals.org/adoptable-dogs/
Second Chance Medical Director Dr. Ashely Raymond Answers This Frequently Asked Question
Pet owners have been asking us about the potential transmission of infectious disease leading to upper respiratory tract infection(s) and/or the transmission of COVID-19 between domestic cats and humans. Although there have been very rare reports of pets testing positive for COVID-19, it is important to remember that there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the disease at this time. According to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) “there is no compelling evidence to date that any domestic animal, including cats, dogs, and ferrets, readily transmits SARS-CoV-2 to other animals, including humans, under natural conditions.
The global number of naturally infected animals is far, far less than the number of people with COVID-19, indicating that animals, including pets, are not a driver of the COVID-19 pandemic—the pandemic continues to be driven by human-to-human transmission.”
In addition, and fortunately for us, the viruses and organisms that can cause upper respiratory tract infections (URIs) in cats are not transmissible to humans. It is very common for cats in the shelter environment or who have been recently adopted to exhibit symptoms of URIs due to increased stress and most often is associated with feline herpesvirus flare ups.
If you suspect your cat is having symptoms of a URI, which can include sneezing, runny nose, nasal or ocular discharge, fever, decreased appetite, or lethargy please contact your veterinarian with any concerns you may have.
If you would like further information about COVID-19 and animals please refer to the AVMA at https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/animal-health-and-welfare/covid-19
“The dusty white cargo plane stood out among the gleaming corporate jets, as did its passengers: 48 barking dogs, newly arrived at the private air terminal at Hanscom Field, outside of Boston.
They had left Mississippi that morning with their health certificates taped to their kennels. All week, the staff at Oktibbeha County Humane Society (OCHS), in Starkville, Miss., had been getting them ready, giving them their shots, testing their temperaments, and color-coding each crate for its destination: red for Second Chance Animal Services in North Brookfield, Mass.”
Advice from Second Chance Founder & CEO Sheryl Blancato
Maybe you have your heart set on a Golden Retriever or a French Bulldog. You’ve been visiting your local shelter and shelter websites with no luck. In fact, there’s not as many pets to choose from as there were a few years ago and you wonder how you’ll ever find your new furry family member.
Animal transports are not a new thing, but with so few pets locally surrendered to shelters here in New England, the practice has greatly increased. How do you know that the pet you are getting is not from a puppy mill?
As with everything, opportunity sometimes fosters a negative side. Transporting pets from overcrowded shelters where they are at risk of euthanasia to shelters in areas where families are waiting to adopt is a wonderful thing. It saves so many lives. Local pets should always be the first priority, but when that number has declined to a point that a shelter or rescue has room to help pets from other states too, it is a good way to save more lives.
Prospective pet owners need to be careful though. There are people out there posing as rescues when they are not. In animal welfare, there are lots of names for them like “puppy flippers.” There are flags to watch out for and alert you to do further investigation. If you live in Massachusetts and you find a pet online that you want to adopt, beware if they will only meet you in Connecticut or somewhere else over the border. That tells you that they are not registered in the state of Massachusetts. There is a mandatory 48-hour quarantine requirement for all pets entering Massachusetts from other states. They may be trying to avoid that and once they leave the drop off site, you can be left on your own if the pet gets sick. You can find legitimate, registered organizations listed on the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources website.
There is also a growing trend of people bringing puppies into the state without health certificates and claiming that they raised the puppies. These pets may actually be from puppy mills. You should always ask to see the parents of the puppies, or at the very least the mom. If they refuse, beware. If they have several different breeds available, that should also be a red flag warranting further investigation. Reputable breeders usually only breed one or two breeds. They do it to further the bloodline of their beloved breed. They care deeply about the offspring and will often require a contract before you can take one of their pups home.
We all need to be sure that when we are adopting a pet that we are helping that pet and not supporting a puppy mill. We need to be sure that transporting is done safely for the pets and not putting them at risk. There are best practices that all shelters and rescues follow when bringing pets in from out of state. A truck on the side of the road, tightly packed floor to ceiling with crates and poor airflow who are handing out pets to those that have cash is not one of them. Let’s all work together to ensure that all pets are safe and that we don’t unknowingly support the practice of puppy mill operations.