Northeast Neighbors

Melinda Clark Ruth of Pontotoc is a retired teacher of sixth, seventh and eighth-graders. She taught history and science at schools in Quitman, Clarksdale and at South Pontotoc Middle School for 28 years until she retired nearly four years ago. A native of Grenada, Ruth is married to Benny Ruth and has one son, Chase Tidmore. This Northeast Neighbor is a tireless volunteer with Second Chances Animal Rescue organization in Pontotoc.


Interviewed by Leslie Criss | Photographed by Joe Worthem

Q: What is Second Chances Animal Rescue?

A: Second Chances is a volunteer, donation-based, rescue for dogs and cats in — but not restricted to — Pontotoc County. It’s basically a group of women who have volunteered to try to stem the epidemic of abused, forgotten and neglected animals in our county. Because there is no shelter in Pontotoc County, we are the only hope these animals have.


Q: When did you begin working with Second Chances and why?

A: The head of the organization, Alissa Barton, is a former student of mine. When I had a litter of five feral puppies show up at my house, I contacted her, and she graciously accepted the responsibility of their welfare. I kept the black Lab mix, our Sadie, and promised Alissa that when I retired, I’d help. She warned me against it. She said I’d have my heart broken. Four years and nearly 500 dogs later, she was, sadly, right.


Q: What’s the largest number of rescues/fosters you’ve had at your home at one time?

A: 20, plus my four.


Q: What are some of the greatest needs of Second Chances and how can people help?

A: Without figuring in vet costs, if you look at what it costs to feed every day, it would blow your mind. Then, add in the automatic spay/neuter surgeries, broken bones, hip displacement, heart worm treatment, hernia surgery, etc., you’d be astounded. When people volunteer us all over social media, they never understand what each dog costs us. We don’t let any of them go without being treated for their needs. So, money always helps. Second to that is the critical need for additional fosters. People don’t understand it when we say we are completely out of room. I guess that’s due to the fact that we eventually give in and squeeze them in, somewhere. We constantly need kibble and cat food. Cat litter is a huge need, too.


Q: From where did you get this intense love of animals?

A: I’d have to say, directly from my daddy, Charles Clark. As a conservation officer, he spent 30 years taking care of wildlife. And we always had a bird dog or squirrel dog.


Donations to Second Chances Animal Rescue may be mailed to:

P.O. Box 165, Pontotoc, MS 38863.



Oxford, Mississippi | United States

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