New Second Chance Executive Director Cathi Comar presents plans for new facility


BENNINGTON — Rescued animals can expect to have a new home by next spring. The final plans for the new facility for Second Chance Animal Shelter was unveiled at the 57th annual meeting Wednesday night.

The site of the former Valhalla Motel on Route 7A in Arlington was purchased by Second Chance last year, which will be prepped this summer.

It includes a 13,000 square foot building, triple the size of the current site. This opportunity will allow Second Chance to carry out operations more efficiently and avoid the fact that dog walkers have to cross Route 7A. It has three separate wings with one for offices, one for a community cat room, porch and infirmary, and the back wing to give assessments, provide training and house dogs. Fourteen dogs and a little over 100 cats is the capacity level for the current and future shelter, according to Executive Director Cathi Comar.

To the left of the main building will sit a two-story barn that will house educational activities and conference meetings.

President and Chief Executive Officer of the Humane Society of Chittenden County (HSCC) Nancy Cathcart was the guest speaker and continuously complimented Second Chance for its achievements and future endeavors.

"The sheltering world has changed a lot in 14 years," she said. "The expectations, what the community expects of us, is profound, with what we can actually do."

Cathcart reflected on the importance of a shelter in the community, particularly how first impressions and relationships are made. She cited a Youtube video about an overweight, isolated male who adopted an older, overweight dog and how the two lost weight together and started running in races. It demonstrated the love that generated between the man and dog in which the owner never had prior to the adoption. After the dog passed, he adopted another from the same shelter and continued to run.

"The depth of relationships starts with the animals," she said. "Every interaction sets a wave in motion. Continue being conscious and proactive about interactions. Volunteers, staff and community know the emotional depth."

In 2015, 387 cats, 187 dogs and 12 critters were adopted. There were 1,145 on-site surgeries and 484 low cost spay/neuter surgeries or SNAP, according to the annual report.

As of February 1 Comar was named the new Executive Director and introduced all staff and volunteers. The Director of Shelter Operations Shona Ross dedicated the staff recognition award to Karen Marcoux and the volunteer recognition award to Laurie DuFault. President and Board of Trustees Kimberly Gould presented Merrie Carr with the good citizen's award.

Last year, Second Chance ran 22 events, some in conjunction with Petco, ranging from a fundraiser at the Manchester Community Club and the Bennington Rotary Club, to figuring out ways to bring shelter animals out to meet the public by hosting adoption events and educational programs.

New board members include Nancy Boardman of Arlington, Shelli DuBoff of Bennington and Maria Timmerman of Sunderland.

Second Chance is located at 6779 U.S. Route 7A in Shaftsbury and runs a Humane Education Program, Animal Adventure Camp and Spay & Neuter Program. Visit for more information.

—Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.


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