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For the love of dogs: Pacific Beach rescue participates in month-long Betty White Challenge

Angela Rowe with Bongo, one of the many pups she helped transition to an adoptive home.
Angela Rowe has fostered 65 dogs through the years. She is pictured with Bongo, one of the many pups she helped transition to an adoptive home.
(Courtesy of Second Chance Dog Rescue)

For more than 13 years, Second Chance Dog Rescue in Pacific Beach has been taking in canines of all ages and finding them forever homes.

Since its founding in fall 2008, more than 11,000 dogs have found love with new families through placements by Second Chance.

“We rescue, rehabilitate and re-home dogs, primarily from local shelters, as well as dogs surrendered by their owners for various reasons and dogs from Baja California, Mexico,” said Angela Rowe, the organization’s fundraiser volunteer who has fostered 65 dogs in her home.

Sarah Ferrara, executive director of Second Chance Dog Rescue, with Kia, who has been adopted.
(Courtesy of Second Chance Dog Rescue)

Second Chance is not breed specific, and it takes in all breeds and ages, from puppies to seniors. It also takes in dogs with medical and health issues. Rowe noted that all dogs from Mexico undergo a two-week quarantine period before being brought to the rescue.

But doing this work is expensive, so like other animal organizations across the United States, last month it joined the Betty White Challenge.

The universally-loved actress and well-known animal lover died just weeks before her 100th birthday on Jan. 17. Through the challenge, the actress’ fans were encouraged to donate at least $5 to their favorite animal charity.

Second Chance is continuing its online donation drive through Feb. 17. As of Jan. 25, $7,350 had been donated according to its Facebook page.

Second Chance’s executive director, Sarah Ferrara, said the group also recently received a three-legged rescue dog from Mexico they named “Betty” in White’s memory.

This three-legged dog has been named Betty, in memory of Betty White. She was recently taken in by Second Chance Dog Rescue.
(Courtesy of Second Chance Dog Rescue)

The rescue doesn’t have a shelter or kennel. Instead, the organization relies on foster homes — private households which agree to keep the dogs on the rescue’s behalf.

“In 2020, we had 611 adoptions and in 2021, 550 adoptions,” Ferrara said.

Ferrara credits the organization’s many dedicated volunteers and fosters for its successful adoption numbers.

Rowe, who has been fostering dogs for years from her Pacific Beach residence, said 65 canines have found homes after first living with her as part of her family.

The best part of fostering for Rowe is getting to share her love of animals.

“I like the experience of having the different dogs, taking care of them and finding them homes,” Rowe said.

“We typically have a lot of smaller and medium dogs, but we have all kinds of dogs. We always need big dog fosters. We can’t pull the dogs from the shelters if there are no fosters available to take care of them,” she said.

Prior to being available for adoption, the dogs are fully vaccinated, spayed or neutered, given flea medication and microchipped. Some receive training and any known medical issues are addressed.

“We just took in a French bulldog that will need a $2,000 surgery. That’s way more than our adoption fee,” Rowe said, noting the rescue will pay for the dog’s needed surgery.

Diesel will be available soon, after receiving some needed veterinary care.
(Courtesy of Second Chance Dog Rescue)

Just as with private pet owners, she noted that since the pandemic began the rescue dogs must wait longer to get appointments and, in many cases, their medical bills have gone up.

The group has also seen some dogs being returned to the rescue once their adoptive owners returned to work and had no one at home to care for their pet.

The adoption process involves first filling out an online application. Once approved, the foster family connects with the potential adopter and they meet. In the case of large-sized dogs or puppies, a home check is conducted.

“Potential adopters can meet the dogs at private, one-on-one meet-and-greet appointments with the foster family, or can meet the dogs at our adoption events,” Rowe said.

The organization’s Saturday adoption events recently resumed after going on hiatus due to the pandemic. They rotate between locations in Oceanside, La Jolla, Mission Valley and Poway. For a calendar of adoption events, visit secondchancedogrescue.org/events.

Second Chance provides a two-week foster-to-adopt transition period to make the sure the dog is a fit. If the match doesn’t work out, half of the adoption fee is refunded.

Adoption fees begin at $200 for senior dogs and $300 for adults. Puppies are $350, with an additional $100 refundable deposit required. The deposit is returned after proof the pup has attended puppy training classes.

Potential fosters also start the process by filling out an online application. Once approved, the group can provide everything a new canine parent could want, including food, leashes, beds, crates, toys and more.

“Our fosters are just as valuable as donations, we couldn’t operate without them,” Ferrara said.

The group has between 60 to 100 dogs in foster care at any one time.

“We are constantly rotating dogs being adopted out and new rescues coming in,” Ferrara said. “But we have some fantastic fosters. As soon as their current dog is adopted, they’re ready to take on another.”

Michael Ziegelbauer and Jennifer Bennink had a “foster fail” with Buddy, meaning they adopted the pup.
After fostering more than 50 dogs, husband and wife Michael Ziegelbauer and Jennifer Bennink had a “foster fail” with Buddy, meaning they adopted the pup.
(Courtesy of Jennifer Bennink)

Jennifer Bennink is one such foster. In addition to her role as secretary for the group, she has been fostering for Second Chance for 10 years. In that time, she has fostered more than 50 dogs. Her family only took a break when she had twins, who are now 5 years old.

Bennink is currently taking care of a small, 9-year-old Schnauzer named Greta who possibly has neurological issues. Knowing the dog may be a hospice case doesn’t make adopting her out any easier.

Greta will be available for adoption after her medical needs are addressed.
Tiny and with health issues, Greta is being fostered by Jennifer Bennink and will be available for adoption after her medical needs are addressed.
(Courtesy of Jennifer Bennink)

“Even though there is heartbreak, and the dog will leave, there will always be another needing help,” Bennink said. “And the dogs are going to be getting more love and attention with their own families than even we can give them.”

Bennink said her family continues to foster because of the impact it has.

“It makes such a difference to the dogs and their lives,” she said. “And the follow up from the adopters, letting you know that the dogs are loved and happy; the adoption not only changed the world for the dog, it’s changed the world for the family, too.”

In addition to fostering, the group needs volunteers for everything from transporting dogs to helping at adoption events. There are also several ways to donate, from Amazon and Chewy wish lists to planned giving, ongoing monthly donations and more.

Those wishing to give during the Betty White Challenge can mail donations to 2801 B Street, #55 San Diego, CA 92102.

For more information about Second Chance Dog Rescue, email info@secondchancedogrescue.org or call 619-721-3647 (DOGS). Its website is secondchancedogrescue.org. It can also be found on Facebook at facebook.com/SecondChanceDogRescue.

The Second Chance Dog Rescue office is at 4284 Cass St. in Pacific Beach. No dogs are kept at this location.


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