By Amanda Matwie

In February of 2021, Andy Cordeiro adopted a dog from Second Chance Animal Rescue Society. Sven fit right into the family from the first day in his new home, curling up to sleep alongside the resident dog, Jake that very night. The adoption experience and interaction with SCARS staff was memorable, and when Andy attended the SCARS Holiday Gift Market the following year, he ended up chatting with the volunteers at the merchandise table. Impressed by how friendly the volunteers were and confident that he could do some good, Andy checked out the SCARS website and signed up for the next online orientation session for volunteers and fosters. A dog person through and through, Andy was won over by the numbers of dogs and puppies that had been saved and decided “this is amazing, and I want to be part of (it).” SCARS asks for a minimum of six volunteer hours per month, and that seemed like a manageable amount of time to Andy, so he signed on as a volunteer.

In January of 2023, Andy started out as a volunteer dog walker at the Morinville Rescue Centre (MRC) and loved his interactions with both the dogs and the staff. Soon, he was volunteering to drive around to various donation drop off locations and transport donations back to MRC. He lives close to the rescue which enables him to respond quickly to requests from the SCARS donation team, heading out to do pick ups as soon as he’s off work for the day. “It’s actually quite exciting to see new products getting donated,” he says, reflecting on the variety of donations that come through, “from dry food, toys, wet food, treats, medications, crates, linens, beds, and many other items.” He marvels at having had the “privilege” of bringing in entire pallets of dry food from a sponsor. As of mid-December 2023, he had already logged 332 hours as a SCARS volunteer and declares that he is “loving every hour.”

In addition to the driving he does, Andy has been able to make use of his background as a licensed automotive technician to do repairs and maintenance on the vehicles that SCARS uses to help the rescue function. He has taken on the role of Vehicle Maintenance Coordinator, and his knowledge and skills have made it possible for him to keep these vehicles safe and operational with minimal financial output from SCARS, saving the rescue thousands of dollars. His abilities extend to repairing things other than vehicles, so he has made it a habit to check in with Morinville Rescue Centre staff almost daily to see if there is anything he can fix. The staff and volunteers know that they can call on him for anything from a loose kennel panel or a broken lock to a load of scrap that needs to be taken to the dump.

Andy is always glad to stop by and have an opportunity to walk through the facility, see the newest intakes, and hear about which dogs have had “meet and greets” or gotten adopted. “I have always had a soft spot for animals,” he says, which can make it hard to see the condition that some of the many of the animals that come into care, but watching the transformation is rewarding. The broken down, neglected, and abandoned animals that come into SCARS care soon learn that they will be fed and cared for. “When they come in, they look scared,” he describes, “(then) as they gain trust, they open up and become the best friend anybody could have.” This was certainly Andy’s experience with his own rescue dog, Sven. “He is my buddy, and I wouldn’t give him up for the world,” he says, referring to Sven’s adoption at the best decision he ever made. He wishes that “more people could see the joy in the pups’ eyes when they find someone that they can trust and is willing to give them a chance.”

He makes sure to thank his wife, who is not a volunteer but “like many spouses, works with us behind the scenes when we need help with small tasks,” and has been very supportive of his volunteering. Second Chance Animal Rescue Society is the first organization that Andy has ever volunteered for, and he says it has been amazing. He hopes to continue as a volunteer for many years to come, and he encourages people to check out a volunteer orientation session. There is nothing to lose, he points out, and you may end up enjoying it just like he did.

Second Chance Animal Rescue Society (SCARS), like most animal rescues here in Alberta, operates primarily through the efforts of volunteers. These volunteers do everything from walking dogs and cuddling kittens to opening their homes to provide temporary placements for animals. There are a multitude of volunteer roles that help the rescue run. Learn more about volunteering for SCARS.

Pictured: Andy, his wife, their dog Jake (black) and of course Sven (white), the rescue dog that they adopted from SCARS.