Second Chance Veterinary Hospitals Find Creative Ways to Safely Restore Programs

SPRINGFIELD — Second Chance Animal Services is rising to the challenges presented by COVID-19, continuing to innovate for the health of Massachusetts pets. Last month, the nonprofit’s three veterinary hospitals found a way to safely restore life-saving vaccine clinics and put a plan in place to cut down on the significant backlog of pets waiting for spay/neuter surgery.

Second Chance had to put its popular weekly vaccine clinics on hold indefinitely in March to safeguard the health of pet owners and staff. In July, it slowly rolled out a new format, in which pet owners pre-register and arrive at their reserved time slot.

“We thought this was a temporary fix, but pet owners loved the new format,” Chief Operating Officer Amanda Normandin said. “No more waiting in line, no more filling out paperwork while minding a pet, and so much less stress on the pets.”

The nonprofit’s low-cost spay/neuter program continues to face a backlog of pets waiting due to an almost three-month suspension. The wait for cats is especially significant, so in July the North Brookfield location began scheduling catch-up days, starting with a 50-male-cat day. Second Chance surgeons are specially trained in high-volume spay/neuter, but typically see a mix of female cats and dogs each day, resulting in extra time spent resetting between cats and dogs and males and females. Concentrating on a single surgery format allows veterinary staff to help more pets in one day.

Second Chance CEO Sheryl Blancato said she’s grateful to be able to restore these two important programs. “As the pandemic began to close down Massachusetts, we began to worry about a second health crisis. Vaccine clinics are instrumental in stopping the spread of rabies and parvo, and suspending this program weighed heavily on my mind.”

Blancato said she expects the backlog of pets waiting for the spay/neuter program to continue throughout the remainder of 2020. “There are still hundreds of applications awaiting scheduling at each of our locations. We are doing everything we can to get caught up and ask for continued patience.”

Pet owners interested in registering their pet for an upcoming vaccine clinic can visit secondchanceanimals.org or watch Second Chance’s Facebook page for registration announcements. The spay/neuter SPOT application, which stands for Stop Pet Overpopulation Today, can also be found on the website.

Second Chance is scheduling spay and neuter appointments in the order they are received, so new applicants may not receive a call until September or later. The vaccine clinics and spay/neuter program are available at all Second Chance community veterinary hospitals, with locations in Springfield, North Brookfield, and Worcester. Full-service veterinary care is also available by appointment, and subsidized rates are available for qualified households.