Preston cozies up to another resident in his foster home. Photo courtesy of Second Chance Rescue
Preston cozies up to another resident in his foster home. Photo courtesy of Second Chance Rescue
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Every rescue group has a creation story, but this one is unique. It begins in the hearts of Dr. Steven Weinrauch and licensed veterinary technician Michelle St. Mary, as well as the many volunteers who rose to the call to provide top-notch veterinary care to shelter and homeless pets.

Weinrauch, a local veterinarian working at the time for a national, corporate-run veterinary hospital, saw a great need. The Gold Bar puppy mill had been raided, and a lot of those dogs needed medical care. So together with his future business partner, St. Mary, Weinrauch’s wife, Kathryn (a fellow veterinarian), and many other willing veterinarians in the Puget Sound region, Weinrauch attempted to open his hospital and give the dogs the care they needed.

But not everyone was on board: Weinrauch’s employer did not approve. Use of company hospitals and resources to help non-paying clients — let alone dogs without owners — was not allowed. Weinrauch and St. Mary, of course, took care of the dogs anyway.

That was four years ago. Since then, Weinrauch and St. Mary have expanded their initial ambition to care for homeless pets into a successful veterinary practice that carefully integrates their philanthropic values into every aspect of the business.

Both Drs. Kathryn and Steven Weinrauch and St. Mary now operate Second Chance Rescue, with a network of veterinary hospitals, including three they created from the ground-up: Northpointe Animal Hospital in Lynnwood, Main Street Animal Hospital in Mill Creek and Snohomish Station Animal Hospital in Snohomish.

A philanthropic mission
When you walk into the Northpointe Animal Hospital, it is obvious that the facility was built to suit a practice offering quality veterinary care and the ability to accommodate the needs of all patient needs — including those animals coming from shelters into the care of Second Chance Rescue.

This model, a synergistic combination of nonprofit and business, is not just about sharing space. Every part of Weinrauch and St. Mary’s practice has a philanthropic arm. Drug suppliers are asked to donate medicine for rescue patients when the company makes an order for antibiotics or arthritis medication meant for regular patients. Suppliers of vet-prescribed products, like prescription dog or cat foods, are asked to donate bags of food for the Second Chance dogs and cats.

Even in the construction of the new Northpointe hospital, St. Mary and Weinrauch asked contractors to donate a certain amount of their time to support the rescue.

The result is a fine example of socially conscience entrepreneurship that serves animal clients with or without human owners.

But because of its specialty services, animals taken into the rescue are referred by groups like PAWS, not directly from the public. Kay Joubert, PAWS director for Companion Animal Services, explained that Second Chance is one of its Placement Partners, a trusted organization with which they transfer animals to ensure proper care and the best chance for the right adoptive home.

Second Chance came with a glowing recommendation from the Everett Animal Shelter, which rescued the Gold Bar puppy mill dogs. Joubert said that the decision to transfer a dog to Second Chance depends on the needs of that animal and whether Second Chance has the right foster home to give an animal long-term care.

Currently at Second Chance, 7-year-old Preston is up for adoption. True to its mission, Preston is under the care of Second Chance because of his epilepsy. This gentle soul needed special attention to control seizures and receives that from Northpointe veterinarian Dr. Valerie Shearer.

In fact, every person who works for St. Mary and Weinrauch’s hospitals also gives their time to the rescue of dogs and cats. Shearer also serves as Preston’s foster family until the right home is found.

A new solution
Second Chance Rescue appears to have done more than create a new rescue group: It created a new solution to help homeless pets.

“We have a wonderful collaboration with Second Chance,” Joubert said, adding that PAWS also consults with Weinrauch on medical cases within its shelter system.

The advantages of having an animal-rescue focus on specialty veterinary care are clear. Dogs and cats become homeless for a variety of reasons and come to shelters and rescue groups with many complex needs. Some need a trainer, some need a breed-specific rescue and some, like Preston, need a generous dose of expert veterinary care from the dedicated volunteers at Second Chance Rescue.

For more information about Second Chance Rescue, visit www.2ndchancerescue.org. Information on PAWS can be found at paws.org.

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is host of Living Humane on KKNW 1150 AM (livinghumane.com) and writes a blog called “Sniffing Out Home: A Search for Animal Welfare Solutions” at www.sniffingouthome.org. To comment on this story, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.