By: Tammy Curtis, Managing Editor
Panda the puppy is ecstatic to meet his new owner in Connecticut. Right, Panda, a senior Boston Terrier in the Seniors for Seniors program with Second Chance Rescue brings smiles to his owner’s face. Second chance has adopted 190 dogs across the nation since December of 2021
If wagging tails, soft fur and a loving heart is what is being sought, one local animal rescue has warmed the hearts and homes of nearly 200 families since it beginning. Arkansas has some of the weakest pet breeder and owner laws in the nation. As a result, the need for rescues and shelters is much larger than in many other states and still growing. But, one local woman with an undying love for pets always realized the problem with strays and the abundance of unwanted animals in the area.
Until recently, she wasn’t in the position to help very much. In December of2021 Kimberly Solomine and her husband, Ross, opened Second Chance Rescue of Hardy, Inc. She has worked with animals, since she was 15. Growing up, her late mother owned a grooming salon, so being around dogs was something that was second nature to her. While volunteering at the Cherokee Village Animal Shelter, she became aware of the overpopulation of dogs and their fate. Even then, Kimberly knew she would like to help curb the problem in some larger way at some point. Once she was able to get the space, she finally opened her rescue. With a background in agricultural science and vast experience working with animals, Kimberly stepped into what would be one of the largest animal rescues in the area, one that is unlike most others before it, and financially self sufficient without the need to face closure if public donations were to cease. While most of the dogs from Kimberly’s operation go to homes out of state, all of the dogs are from the area and relinquished for one reason or another. While she has ad-opted a few pets locally, Kimberly credits her stringent policies and screening procedures for the success of her rescue and the rea-son only two dogs from Second Chance have ever been returned. From her life experiences, Kimberly learned that most dogs who have to begiven up come from people having to move to housing that doesn’t allow them, their maintenance cost becomes too high or well meaning pet lovers end up with too many. Oftentimes, she said homeowners are the best candidates. Other criteria to determine the probable success of an adoption includes the amount of time the adopter will have to spend with the pet, whether they live in a rural area or have a fenced area and space to allow the dog ample exercise space and time. She said each potential adopter also goes through an about 30 minute phone interview which allows her to determine, based on her experiences, whether or not the person has knowledge of the breed they will be adopting as well as explaining any potential quirks and energy levels of the dog, “We don’t just go by a piece of paper, I have conversations with them all,” she said of finding the right fit for pets to get quality homes so the potential adopters receive a pet that fits their lifestyle. Kimberly explained the reason the adoptions are so successful in the northern states is because of the laws. Strays are very uncommon and not something they can just go pick up free as is the case in this area many times. She spoke of meeting a lady on Tic Tok, where she also promotes her dogs for adoption. “This lady from Massachusetts told me a dog walking down the road there made state news because it was so rare.” This explains why so many want to adopt pets, and understand they aren’t free. The adoption allows them to avoid the extremely high cost of purchasing what is most available to them, pure bred pets and the many vet and upkeep bills that of-ten accompany them. Among other rea-sons dogs are relinquished is from breeders whose dogs become too old to breed, puppies too old to sell, accidental breeding and occasionally, an aggressive dog who requires more training to be a pet. She said she often gets pure bred dogs ad-opted out but due to the high breeding of dogs, they are typically the ones with more health issues that have to be ad-dressed before adoption. Since last summer, Second Chance has averaged adopting 25dogs a month. “We try our best to make as big of an impact as possible, but we fill up quickly,” Kimberly explained. With a large facility in rural Hardy, the rescue has plenty of room for the average of 35-50dogs to receive ample love, exercise, food and become internet dog celebrities as they are photographed and their personalities high-lighted on not only the rescue’s social media pages, but also on pet locating websites like petfinder.com, adoptapet.com, and rescueme.com. This allows them to reach the maximum audience to ensure they find quality life-long homes. Second Chance is currently housing a dog for a man who is incarcerated and facing time in the penitentiary. This dog might otherwise have had to be euthanized, but thanks to Second Chance, the dog will be getting just that if his owner is faced with a prison sentence… a second chance at life with anew home, .The Solomine’s also own First Choice Transport, which transports pets to Illinois every two weeks. They also collaborate with other shelters and rescues along their route for adoption transport during their trips. Kimberly’s dogs all undergo a two week quarantine period before transport. All adopted dogs are wormed, have their shots, are spayed or neutered and come with health certifications before going to their new families. Kimberly’s rescue also has a Senior for Senior Program to adopt senior dogs to senior adults, who do well with pets. She said one of the biggest problems she sees in the area be-sides the lack of spay and neutering that lead to excessive populations of unwanted pets is pet owners not vaccinating their dogs. She explained parvo is one of the biggest killers of puppies and is completely preventable with proper vaccination. Once she gets puppies in they are treated in house be-fore even being taken to the rescue’s kennel area to prevent the spread and the disease getting in the ground. “We use lots and lots of bleach, but we have saved some from parvo, it just seems like it is getting more and more resistant to antibiotics,” Kimberly explained of the importance of timely vaccinations to locals. Unlike many rescues in the area who fail due to lack of public funding, Kimberly’s education has also taught her how to make her rescue self sustaining through adoption fees. These fees solely fund the operations, vetting and most supplies for Second Chance Rescue. The fee also ensures the potential adopter is serious about the commitment to the dog. While donations are accepted, Kimberly said dog food, blankets, toys for the puppies and beds are the things they use most and appreciates donations of those items from the public. It is easy to see how stricter pet laws would benefit the state in regard to reducing the ever in-creasing cost of ad-dressing stays for cities and counties. The Solomines are making a huge impact in Sharp County. They are doing this by not only saving the lives of pets that might otherwise be euthanized, starve to death or be killed by vehicles while left to roam, but also reducing over population in the Sharp County and providing a life-time of love for families across the nation. She said she has been able to provide first time pets to so many families and children. To date, Second Chance had provided quality 190 homes to dogs in ten states and plans to work to increase that number in coming years. Any-one who would like to donate items may do so by contacting Kimberly at 870-751-0175 to arrange pickup, or by emailing her at [email protected] or though social media.