A Second Chance Rescue began in 2007 rescuing primarily puppies and kittens, but also some special needs dogs and cats. They are 100% volunteer-run and foster-based; each year they transport between 900 and 1100 animals to south Florida from Alabama (they also rescue a few from local places that reach out).
We happened to arrive in the area on the night they were receiving their monthly transport. So we got to see their beautiful, enormous, trick-out custom van arrive with 46 animals and watch as fosters arrived to pick them up.
It took the rescue about six years to raise the money for their rescue van through a combination of grants and fundraisers. The $150,000 custom van has two AC units, heat, a diesel generator, a refrigerator, and enough adjustable kennels to hold as many as 90 animals. The van is sometimes used to travel to hurricane-ravaged areas and offer aid.
On this transport, in addition to lots and lots of gorgeous puppies, there was a deaf dog, a kitten with no eyes, and a cat that will need a leg amputated.
When the van, driven by A Second Chance volunteers, arrives, Dr. Fox, a local veterinarian who is also on the rescue’s board, sets up shop on the van to administer vaccines, insert microchips, deworm everybody, and generally inspect the animals.
Their foster families were already lined up outside. Before the animals are adopted out locally, they will spend a few weeks in a foster home and be spayed or neutered. The cats on board were headed to a local pet store for their cattery display. Others were scheduled for needed surgery.
It seemed odd to me to see a transport coming to Florida while so many transports leave every week loaded with dogs destined for the north and Florida remains a state still killing a lot of animals. There are so many versions of rescue. In this area of Florida, clearly, there is a need for puppies and kittens. Second Chance is filling that need, and also managing to save some tough cases as they do. Fewer dogs die in Alabama because of this organization.
Our latest tour showed us just how many ways people are working to save animals in the south. Watching a family of four hurrying to their van, each clutching an adorable puppy, I thought, everyone can do something to help. Fostering adorable puppies is one way. Driving a transport van for days is another. You don’t have to work in a shelter or volunteer at a rescue (although I promise if you do, it will not just change a dog’s life, but yours), you can also advocate for better laws and enforcement, speak up when you see an abusive or neglectful situation, or donate money or supplies.
You can also offer support virtually by sharing the stories and needs of shelters and rescues, raising awareness of their plight, and offering support and encouragement for the work they are doing. On our website, you can find a list of all the shelters and rescues we have visited to date. I encourage you to check out the list, read the stories, and when possible support the work of these organizations.
Who Will Let the Dogs Out is also looking for additional volunteers to help with: fundraising/development, bookkeeping/taxes, shelter liaisons, and our new e-newsletter. Speaking of which, if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get our inaugural edition. Our newsletter will share more ways to save dogs — with ideas on fundraising, grant programs, volunteer & foster program, community engagement, advocacy, and education. It’s for shelters, rescues, advocates, volunteers, and anyone with a heart for dogs.
Until each one has a home,
The mission of Who Will Let the Dogs Out (we call it Waldo for short) is to raise awareness and resources for homeless dogs and the heroes who fight for them.
You can learn more about what is happening in our southern shelters and rescues in the book, One Hundred Dogs & Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey Into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues (Pegasus Books, 2020). It’s the story of a challenging foster dog who inspired me to travel south to find out where all the dogs were coming from. It tells the story of how Who Will Let the Dogs Out began. Find it anywhere books are sold. A portion of the proceeds of every book sold go to help unwanted animals in the south.
Amber’s Halfway Home is our short documentary film produced in partnership with Farnival Films. It follows the work of a remarkable woman and one day of rescue in western Tennessee. Selected for sixteen film festivals (to date), it’s won eight awards (including Best Short Doc, Best Soundtrack, Best of Fest, and Audience Choice), and was nominated for an Emmy! It is a beautiful, heartbreaking, inspiring story we hope will compel viewers to work for change. Please watch it and share it far and wide.