Second Chance Animal Shelter helps underserved community of pet owners (2024)

SPRINGFIELD –Maryszka Muffin, a calico with white markings that belongs to Zaza Ziemba, of Springfield, has diabetes and requires treatment once or twice a month.

Because she is on a fixed income, Ziemba was afraid she would have to give up her beloved pet for adoption or euthanize her. "That would have broken my heart," she said.

But Maryszka Muffin now receives care from Second Chance Animal Shelter, which helps the underserved community of pet owners, offering subsidized pricing for those that qualify.

The non-profit organization has an adoption center, spay-neuter clinic and two Wellness Center Vet Clinics; its main hospital is in North Brookfield but it has a Community Veterinary Clinic - its first satellite location - at 501 Belmont Ave. in Springfield to serve dogs and cats.

"I'm on a fixed income, so this is a godsend," Ziemba said. "Every penny counts, especially when you have a chronically ill cat."

She has two other cats, Beulah Bunny, a grey tabby, and Peter Gabriel, a buff and white cat. Both have had examinations at Second Chance Animal Shelter.

Before she found Second Chance, Ziemba was taking her animals to a regular animal hospital and spending more money than she could afford. "That was going to have to end, so thank God for Second Chance," she said.

Second Chance Animal Shelter seeks to enable pet owners to be able to afford basic vet care (although it is a full-service clinic) in order for them to keep their pets healthy and in their homes. It also helps the general public with vet care at a non- subsidized rate.

Subsidies come from grants and donations. "Anyone can use our high quality veterinary services even if they are not subsidized," said Sheryl A. Blancato, executive director of Second Chance Animal Shelter. "Those that are not subsidized pay full price. That money is also used to help us operate these clinics and offset costs for the subsidized pricing."

Second Chance Animal Shelter is a nationally recognized organization that provides innovative programs and services to help animals. It has been helping animals since 1999 and is a no-kill, non-profit organization that helps more than 20,000 pets through adoption, spay-neuter, subsidized veterinary care, behavioral assistance and other services.

Its mission is to provide temporary shelter to stray, abandoned and surrendered animals for the purpose of finding permanent suitable homes; to provide assistance and financial aid to prevent overpopulation through spaying and neutering programs; and to support a healthy pet community and responsible animal husbandry by providing reasonable-cost general veterinary services, as well as low or no-cost general veterinary services to those unable to afford care for their pets.

The shelter also seeks to provide low and no-cost general veterinary services to animal control agencies, animal shelters and rescues; to establish cross-referral networks with local for profit veterinary doctors and clinics; and to provide assistance and information to others whose purposes are consistent with the purpose of Second Chance Animal Shelter Inc.

Programs include the Food for Pets Pantry, which was established to help people in need feed their pets so that they don't have to surrender them; and an on-site service at elderly housing complexes to help residents keep their pets healthy and up to date on vaccines.

Second Chance also offers rabies vaccinations and microchip clinics to help ensure that all pets get home safely and are protected from rabies.

Blancato noted that a number of people who were struggling to find transportation to the veterinary clinic in North Brookfield.

"We did a great deal of research on where the highest needs were by looking at the poverty levels," she said. "Springfield had a huge need, and we were regularly getting calls to help. We were using our transport vehicle to help as many as we could."

According to the Pets for Life program, there are 23 million pets living in poverty in the United States. "Their owners love them dearly but have limited financial means when their pets get sick," Blancato said. "The comment used to be that if people couldn't afford a pet they shouldn't have one, but that is not a fair statement. Having the love and companionship of a pet should be able to be for everyone."

This is especially important for the elderly and disabled. "These pets are often their sole daily companions and mean the world to them," she said.

These pets also provide health benefits to people such as helping to reduce blood pressure, helping with depression and getting people active socially and physically, she added.

"Seventy-seven percent of pets in under-served communities do not have access to regular veterinary care because it is something out of reach financially," she said. "Therefore we are filling this gap."

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Second Chance Animal Shelter helps underserved community of pet owners (2024)
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