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'This is what I’m good at'

Editor’s Note: This continues our Celebrate Community series on nonprofit organizations that improve Santa Rosa County residents’ quality of life.

MILTON — Kristen Carter’s love of felines and concern for the well-being of animals in need led to a full-time job earlier this year when the stay-at-home mom started Second Chance Colony. 

Second Chance Colony, founded in late January, is the sole cat-only animal rescue in Santa Rosa County. Carter, 28, rescued cats on her own for a couple years — fostering for local rescues including the Pensacola Humane Society and A Hope for Santa Rosa — before deciding to start her own organization. 

The name Second Chance came from a kitten Carter fostered who was hit by a car. Carter nursed the cat — named Chance — back to health. 

“When he came to me, it was kind of the kick,” Carter said. “This is what we do; this is what I’m good at. And the need is there, because our [area] shelter has a 90 percent kill rate for cats.” 

Walking into Carter’s home, you wouldn’t know there were 17 cats behind one of the doors, plus six of her own. Carter said she takes pride in keeping her home and the cats’ area clean. 

Her daily routine ensures the cats are always happy and healthy. Twice a day, Carter cleans the litter boxes, disinfects the cages, vacuums and gives the cats food and water. 

“I’m working to get a building to go in the backyard so we can take on more than what we have now,” Carter said. “Yesterday, I had to turn down five people … it’s heartbreaking.” 

The organization currently has two active foster homes, fostering three additional cats. Carter said they are in desperate need of more foster homes. 

“I’m on call 24 hours a day,” Carter said. “No matter what time it is, all my fosters know that if something happens with that animal, all they have to do is call and I’ll be there.”

Second Chance Colony has a board of directors that includes Carter, Ashley Messick, Jeff Keener and Pamela Holt. 

Carter runs a Facebook page for the organization where she uploads photos and information about each cat, posts video updates on the animals, coordinates with potential adopters and communicates with people seeking help with feral cats or rehoming their own. 

“One of the things we do is, we take in feral kittens … and we socialize them,” Carter said.

When residents contact Carter about a feral cat issue, she coordinates with A Hope for Santa Rosa and their trap, spay/neuter and release program. When cat owners have behavioral problems with their pets, Carter offers to come to their home. 

“The end game is to turn Santa Rosa County [animal shelter] into a no-kill,” Carter said. 

For people who want to adopt a cat from Second Chance Colony, the fee is $30 for animals not yet spayed or neutered and $60 for those that are. When adopting a cat not yet fixed, the person must show proof of prepayment for the procedure. 

“Eventually, I’d like to have a building,” Carter said. “I’d like to have a safe place where people can bring their animal … and not feel judged, and know they’re making the right decision for the animal.”

“I became a foster for Second Chance Colony because I am inspired by [founder Kristen Carter's] work ethic and I admire the work she is doing and will continue to do for our local feline population." —Shasta Harrell

“I am thrilled to be with Second Chance Colony. This opportunity has opened my eyes to so much in a short amount of time. I was not much of a cat person before Second Chance Colony. Now that I have seen and experienced what it’s like to rescue kittens and cats, I can’t wait to see our current ones get adopted and then rescue more.

"It’s truly something special to rescue animals. I very much enjoy seeing how they grow and love, and being able to give them better lives is incredibly rewarding. Rescuing is a lifestyle; it’s 24/7/365. But at the end of each day, we are changing lives and I think that speaks for itself.” —Ashley Messick, Second Chance Colony vice president


This article originally appeared on Santa Rosa Press Gazette: 'This is what I’m good at'

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