Volunteering – for a greater nation

By Shazeeda Mohamed
Teen Staff Writer
Josephine Dobbs Clement Early College High School
the Durham VOICE


Mohandas Gandhi said, “the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

Second Chance Pet Adoptions is one animal shelter paving the way for a greater nation. Second Chance is a non-profit, no-kill, animal shelter located in Raleigh that I spend time with volunteering.

Shazeea Mohamed, VOICE teen writer.

Second Chance sprouted in 1987: Three women, Cheri Sowter, Deborah Ruggero and Judy Benrud, made a commitment to help homeless animals in the Triangle area. They “fostered” the abandoned cats and dogs they stumbled upon.

The news about these women spread and people who found strays would bring them to Second Chance. Things only blossomed from there and in 1989 they became a rescue organization.

Volunteers were recruited to help with the day-to-day tasks of running the organization and programs were also created within Second Chance. Throughout this time, Second Chance relied on volunteers to foster cats until they opened cageless, no-kill facility housing cats in February 2004. The facility increased the number of animals moving through Second Chance’s programs.

In 2006, this shelter that also functions as a pet adoption agency, gave a glimmer of hope to nearly 900 abandoned and homeless pets. The principles that the founders set forth guide Second Chance’s operations to the present. Each animal is carefully matched with the best home suited to its needs, and in the event the owner cannot keep the animal, Second Chance will take it back.

Here, a rescued pet receives the best medical care available, unconditional love and socialization.

I am fortunate to volunteer with Second Chance. I consider it a privilege. I remember my first time walking into the facility for the volunteer orientation they have for new volunteers. The different volunteering opportunities and rules were explained clearly. I could tell that these were people who took caring for animals seriously. I was a bit nervous that I wouldn’t meet their standards.

Those feelings quickly subsided when I did the one-day training in learning cat-care. It was not hard to remember, and there was someone that I could bring my questions to. I enjoyed playing with the cats, and they seemed to enjoy the company too.

I involve myself mostly in cat-care shifts. This care includes feeding felines, scooping litter boxes, cleaning the rooms and socializing with cats. Some people might think that is a laborious and dirty task, but it is rewarding to me. Seeing the cats happy and healthy warms my heart and I am glad to play a role in keeping them that way. Although I do not see dogs often, they are not housed at the shelter, whenever I do meet them; they always look healthy and excited.

Speaking of dogs, Second Chance has monthly dog washes that I also love volunteering for. Bathing dogs is messy, but it’s fun when with other people. Second Chance gives me an opportunity to relax and cuddle with cats after stressful school days. I have made great friends at Second Chance, and I get some animal experience as I work my way towards my personal goal in small animal veterinary medicine.

The people at Second Chance make me feel like I belong somewhere and that I am doing something good. I always get asked how I am when I walk through the door, and I leave with someone saying, “thanks for coming.” I have spent my best days volunteering with Second Chance, and I would not prefer it any other way. They hand me so many volunteering opportunities that I never put to waste.  I now cannot imagine my life without the kind people and cuddly animals.

I will always remember Second Chance as the place that first gave me an opportunity to work with animals. It’s these people that put a smile on my face when I leave after every shift.

I would encourage everyone to try volunteering at a local animal shelter or give donations. One might be surprised to find that he or she enjoys working with our furry friends.