Last updated: 7 Jun, 2023
Published on: 23 Mar, 2023
Second Chance Animal Rescue: Helping pets (and humans) for fifteen years!
The innovative rescue organisation, founded by Marisa Debattista (pictured above) fifteen years ago, works hard to help pets and to support the bond between humans and their beloved furry family members.
Marisa took a break from her hectic schedule of rescuing and caring for homeless pets to chat about SCAR and their epic lifesaving work.
Benny Boy, looking for a home via Second Chance Animal Rescue.
15 years of lifesaving work and lessons learnt
Marisa began her rescue journey in 2008 when she was working as a vet nurse. She discovered how many pets and their owners needed support and how few resources were available. She saw pets being surrendered by their owners and ending up at the pound, many of which she later found out were killed.
Marisa put her name down as the backup contact for a cat called Annabel, who was taken to the pound. Annabel ended up going home with Marisa. This happened again. And again... with eight more pets! With a house packed to the rafters with pets she’d rescued, she decided it was time to start rehoming. Marisa received a kind donation after the first pet was rehomed. So she decided to research how to form a charity and volunteered at a shelter to learn what (and what not) to do. Second Chance Animal Rescue has since snowballed into what it is today - with thousands of pets rehomed, and its own facility in Craigieburn, Victoria.
‘’I’ve learnt a lot over the last fifteen years about where to put my energy. At first, it was about rescuing and rehoming as many pets as possible. My focus now is also on keeping people and pets together and keeping pets out of pounds. We aim to support pet owners where they are before they’ve reached crisis point. If we can do that, not only do we keep a pet with their family, but we’ve supported somebody in need.’’
Sylvester, looking for a home via Second Chance Animal Rescue.
The special cat who inspired a life-saving new program
One of Marisa’s standout rescue stories over the years was when a tradie from a building site called SCAR for help. She and the team arrived to discover that a mumma cat and her new babies were stuck underneath a house being built while the flooring was being completed. Luckily, the tradies could pull up some of the flooring so the team could rescue the kittens, but the scared mumma cat was another story! Marisa and the team tried patiently to trap her and finally succeeded after three long days.
Like many urban stray cats, the mumma cat was terrified of people and would be hard to adopt, making her future in a pound very uncertain. Little did this scared kitty know she would be the cat-alyst for a new program - the Working Class Cat Program! SCAR developed this program to rehome shy cats into farms, barns and factories to help keep the rodent population down. This kitty who once faced an uncertain future is still living happily on the farm she was adopted to, loving her job. She’s even become more comfortable around humans!
Poppy, looking for love via Second Chance Animal Rescue.
Fostering = more lives saved
Marisa says that anyone considering fostering should contact their local rescue organisation or shelter to learn more.
‘’Fostering saves lives! Without foster carers, we couldn’t save as many pets as we do - they’re some of the most important people in the organisation. Nothing beats a foster home; it gives pets a relaxing home environment so they can come out of their shells. Fostering makes adoptions easier as we’re able to find out more information about the pet and the home they need.”
Wednesday Cattams, available for adoption via Second Chance Animal Rescue.
The future of animal welfare & SCAR
Marisa believes that the rescue world can make the biggest impact on companion animal welfare by moving to support pet owners in need.
“While rescue and rehoming is very important and has its place, a grassroots approach is also needed, to support people and their pets in their homes with challenges they’re facing. We can’t keep fighting this issue of homelessness by rescue and rehoming, that isn’t sustainable. We need to make sure there’s accessible and available resources for people and their pets, including those in underserved communities.’’
Marisa’s dreams for the future of SCAR include owning their own facility, which will be a hub for the community, with services for owners and pets. She’d love to be able to have a social worker onsite to help pet owners in crisis and vet services onsite to help people who are struggling to care for their pets. Ideally, she’d like SCAR to “adjust and grow in a way that meets all the needs of our community and our animals.”
We can’t wait to see what Second Chance Animal Rescue achieve for pets and the humans who love them in the future!
You can learn more about Second Chance Animal Rescue’s work and how to support them here.
Tune in to The Pet Rescuers every Saturday at 12.30pm to see the legends at SCAR in action.
Banner image: SCAR founder and CEO Marisa Debattista with dog Charlie (image via Damjan Janevski).