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News / Life / Clark County Life

Second Chance Companions seeks help after tragic fire

Nonprofit needs volunteers, donations for animal programs

By Nika Bartoo-Smith, Columbian staff reporter
Published: December 15, 2022, 6:01am

Following a devastating fire at the home of one of its main volunteers, local animal foster and adoption nonprofit Second Chance Companions is looking for community support, through donations and more volunteers, to get back on its feet.

The day after Thanksgiving, a volunteer’s house caught fire while they were at the vet with two foster kittens. The volunteer, who prefers not be named, had been fostering 19 cats. Seventeen of those were lost in the fire, along with three of their own cats. Hundreds of dollars worth of medical supplies were also lost in the fire.

“The fire set us back quite a bit,” said volunteer Janet Sword. “Many of the cats lost were just becoming ready for adoption.”

Second Chance Companions is in need of more community volunteers to help foster cats and kittens.

To Learn More

To learn more about Second Chance Companions and how to foster, donate or adopt, visit sccpets.com.

“We always need volunteers,” said Sword.

Second Chance Companions is a volunteer-run nonprofit that has been serving animals in Southwest Washington and the Portland metro area since 1993. The nonprofit does not have a physical headquarters and instead relies on volunteers to provide temporary homes for foster dogs and cats before they are adopted.

According to volunteer Peggy Toolis, volunteers are required to take care of the following:

  • Assess the needs of the animal and begin to tackle behavioral issues.
  • Obtain vaccines for the animal and treatment for parasites such as fleas and worms if needed.
  • Get the foster animal spayed or neutered and microchipped.
  • Provide food, lodging and love.
  • Help find the right adopter.

The average cost per cat or kitten intake is around $125.

“I’m in awe of my fellow foster moms and dads that open their homes to give an animal that second chance,” Toolis said. “When you can help an animal through that bewildering phase of being lost, scared, neglected, abused or grieving the loss of their human and handing them off to a loving home, there is nothing else like that feeling.”

Being a volunteer foster household is not without its risks. These include dealing with very sick animals, potential exposure of contagious disease to one’s personal pets, damage to property and foster failure, according to Toolis.

Volunteer Bethany Pengra has experienced a foster failure on a few occasions. Pengra hoped fostering would help her get her “kitten fix” without adopting more animals, but she has adopted two cats she was fostering over the years.

“In the process of fostering, I have learned a lot of what it takes to take care of tiny kittens, and I have also found a community of other cat and animal lovers,” said Pengra, who has been volunteering since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I think for me, volunteering is more than finding homes for kittens — it’s also about having the community of people who help and support each other when needed.”

If you want to learn more about Second Chance Companions and how to foster, donate or adopt, visit sccpets.com.

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Columbian staff reporter