A lot of kittens, pups, dogs, and cats, as well as animal lovers, are very lucky to have Kym Cyr of Second Chance Animal Rescue. This Island treasure is a no-kill, cage-free organization that helps rehabilitate lost or abandoned cats and dogs, and prepares them for a forever home. And that’s no mean feat when you have always had a full-time job throughout the 26 years of keeping the Second Chance going.
Cyr began the nonprofit when she moved to the Vineyard. People told her to join a book or gardening club to meet friends, but that just didn’t resonate with her. She explains, “I used to live in South Carolina, and I knew how bad it was there — there was no way of not running into an animal that needed help. People would drop them off in my yard. But you couldn’t find very good homes down there. But once up here, I knew there were plenty of good ones. They treat their animals differently down South. Here they share their beds and give them their pillow to make them happy.”
She started the nonprofit, which entailed getting permission from the Department of Agriculture and building an isolation room, and figuring out how to arrange transportation services that would bring the animals up. Cyr says, “That’s how we started grabbing animals from high-kill shelters from mostly down South.” But she does rescues here on the Island too. Whether it’s a stray kitten or folks who call because they find an injured animal, she says, “We try and step in and help the whole situation.”
No matter how they enter, every animal immediately goes into isolation for 48 hours. After that, they come into the house, which acclimates them to a home environment. The vet comes to provide health certificates, the animals are spayed or neutered, receive their shots, and are microchipped — then they are ready for their forever home.
Everyone must complete an application, which among other things asks about whether the pet will be inside or outside; is there a fenced-in yard if it’s a dog; are there other animals in the family, and, if so, the name of the person’s vet; how much they would spend for a medical need; and three references.
Adopters come both from near and far. Often people off-Island find Second Chance through PetFinders. If approved, Cyr will pick them up at the ferry, bring them to Second Chance to spend some time with their new animal, and then return everyone to the boat.
The Second Chance website reflects Cyr’s commitment to making sure everyone has all sorts of helpful information. Besides the application and profiles on the animals for adoption, there are important safety precautions, as well as recommended supplements, foods, toys, and litter, with links that take you directly to the websites that sell them.
In a similar vein of spreading important information for pet parents to know, the Second Chance website publicizes that there is a cure for deadly feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), which is a viral disease caused by a feline coronavirus variant that tends to attack the cells of the intestinal wall, causing systemic inflammation. If you are worried, you can find help on the FIP Fighter’s Facebook page, facebook.com/groups/fipfighters, which will assign you an administrator who can help, and will order the medication for you to help save your cat’s life.
Overall, the most important thing to Cyr is to spay and neuter your dog or kitty. “That’s where my heart is. Some organizations will give someone a certain percentage of the adoption fee back when they prove that the animal they have taken has been neutered or spayed,” she emphasizes. “But I think we need to be responsible as a rescue; we’re trying to reduce the population of unwanted animals. We all need to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.”
Running Second Chance entails paying people to transport the animals she rescues from the kill shelters, preventive-care vet visits, medical bills for spaying and neutering, unexpected illnesses, and, of course, general daily needs such as food, litter, and so forth. But Cyr assures us, “To see them get homes is worth it.”
Cyr depends on the kindness of our community to help support the substantial cost and work necessary for the care she continues to carry out through Second Chance. There are many ways to assist. In addition to directing a tax-deductible contribution, you can easily install the free Wooftrax app, wooftrax.com, on your phone, set the “walk for rescue” choice to Second Chance Animal Rescue, and anytime you go for a walk or run (with or without your dog), they will make a donation. Another easy one is using smile.amazon.com, which has the exact same prices and vast selection as the regular Amazon link, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to Second Chance Animal Rescue.
Cyr also always welcomes volunteers to help with cuddling, feeding, facility maintenance, and fostering. Importantly too, she says, “Anyone interested in adopting can visit, meet our various wonderful animals, and see if adoption or fostering is right for them.” For any animal lover, it’s reassuring to know that through Second Chance, Cyr is continuing to make a difference in the many lives she touches.