Second Chance of Orangeburg Animal Rescue Coalition believes preparedness can save lives and avoid heartache. We have seen it over and over again after each major disaster our nation has faced.

At times there have been more than a thousand pets missing and lost after one catastrophic disaster. The sheer number of rescued pets overwhelms the system. Rescuers often risk their lives to save the pets. They rescue them from possible drowning, starvation or even being attacked by other animals.

In a situation like this, pets are not taken to one central location. They are scattered throughout the area, sometimes 100 miles away. This leaves the pet alone and scared and missing their family and their family distraught and heartbroken not able to find their pet.

My husband and I founded Second Chance of Orangeburg Animal Rescue Coalition and between us we have approximately 50 years of experience in disaster response and planning. It is this career background pushing us to act now as our area faces a disaster. Remember South Carolina is at risk for all potential disasters except volcanic activity.

The question is how do we prepare our rescue and for the influx of rescues that will enter our area when disaster strikes. We start by increasing our inventory of equipment, by putting into place agreements for a shelter site that is secure and safe where we can house the pets, by training volunteers how to rescue and care for these pets and by working with our county animal control and other local rescues to ensure a coordinated response.

Second Chance of Orangeburg Animal Rescue Coalition is a 501 C 3 non-profit animal rescue that relies entirely on donations to provide the care we provide to homeless pets. This is a daunting task but one we truly believe is necessary to protect our local pets. We understand there are some who do not share our feeling about pets, and that is OK. We hope that your compassion for life will be why you can support this effort. For the thousands of us who love animals and know their pain and suffering is just as real as ours, I pray you find a way to support this effort.

We need to start by increasing our inventory. Items needed will be dog crates of every size, cat carriers, water and food bowls, leashes and collars, microchip readers, tarps of all sizes, large warehouse fans, and heavy-duty extension cords. Also needed are dog-cat-puppy-kitten foods, stand lights, generator, a covered utility trailer to store equipment and for the rapid deployment of equipment, first aid equipment to treat minor wounds and some basic office supplies. We are looking to the community, local business and industry, schools, civic organizations and churches to donate these items. We know this is asking a lot and will not happen overnight, but if we prepare now, we can save lives and avoid a great deal of heartbreak. Pets are part of our community, they live here, some work here and all were born with one thought in mind, love and protect mankind.

Second Chance of Orangeburg Animal Rescue Coalition is beginning this project to meet our needs when disaster strikes. In this event, the needs will overwhelm the county animal control and we will need all animal rescues to work together to save homeless and displaced pets. The equipment in our inventory, if available, will be shared with other local rescues in need.

This is about saving family pets and our local homeless pets. We will approach this project from the perspective of our past experience in disaster response. We know how the system works when a disaster strikes and we know how to coordinate this project and make it viable. I am looking toward my husband, John Smith, who was this county’s former director of emergency services for 28 years, to guide and lead our organization through this effort.

Another critical need is volunteers to train and volunteer at the shelter caring for the pets and individuals and families willing to foster pets during a disaster. Please let us know if you are willing to help and we will add you to a database for quick access by all local rescues.

If you can support this effort please do not hesitate to contact us at cbs1008@aol.com.

Financial donations can be made to Second Chance, PO Box 1446, Orangeburg SC 29116 or at our website secondchanceanimalrescuesc.com.

Cindy B. Smith is a founder of Second Chance of Orangeburg Animal Rescue Coalition.

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