Author Archives: Steve

Therapy Pets Visit Cancer Treatment Centers of America – Tulsa

posted September 21st, 2013 by

by Kendra Blevins

Photography by Sirius Photography

As Cancer Treatment Centers of America guest services and patient activity coordinator, Gary- Ann Tomkalski noticed over the past year that patients were missing the company of their pets at home and the comfort their presence brings.

Many patients travel hundreds of miles to receive treatment at the Tulsa branch of Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

“Over the last year, I have talked to many patients and caregivers who had to leave their pets at home, and they would all tell me how much they missed them,” Tomkalski says. “I felt such empathy for them as I have two cats of my own, and I know they are important members of my family.

“So, when I saw that ‘Grumpy Cat’ had visited the CTC A in Phoenix, I asked if we could have therapy dogs come to CTC A of Tulsa. That is what set the wheel in motion. I made contact with Sharon Wilson of Karing K9’s and with Dusty and Nancy Meyer of TLC Therapy Dogs, and both groups came to visit and thus began our partnerships.”

Sharon Wilson of Karing K9’s began her journey as a handler in 1994 and also visits St. Francis Hospital, St. John’s Burn Center and OSU Medical Center rehabilitation services.

Dusty Meyer started with Karing K9’s and became registered with Therapy Dogs Inc., (TDInc.), out of Cheyenne, Wy. Therapy Dogs Inc., is a 30-year-old organization of more than 11,000 dog/handler teams whose goal is to provide registration, support and insurance for the members who volunteer in pet therapy activities.

“I wanted my own team,” says Meyer. Now there are eight registered teams with TLC Therapy Dogs, which was established five months ago. Meyer and Wilson quickly point out that their dogs are not service dogs but therapy dogs.

Wilson explains, “There is a big difference between service dogs and therapy dogs. We do a lot of education as therapy dogs; we go into summer camps to educate children on pet safety and care, plus a lot of different things.”

Therapy pets must be at least 1 year old and in the care of the owner for at least three months. On the other hand, a service dog is a type of assistance dog specifically trained to help people who have disabilities. Service dogs are allowed in general public areas, whereas therapy dogs do not have the same access.

Therapy dogs are trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, at disaster sites, hospices and in educational settings. So enjoying human contact is a must for these animals.

Karing K9’s and TLC Therapy Dogs are both registered with TDInc. Some therapy pet activities include visiting schools, hospitals, nursing homes, libraries and any facilities where interaction with dogs would benefit people.

During these visits, people are invited to pet and stroke the dog. Patients can brush them, just look, hold them in their laps or place them on the bed. Fetching games and walking alongside with the owner are also a beneficial means of interaction.

Each therapy pet visit at CTC A is set up in the activity room, and whoever wants to see them comes to pet them, hug them and pose with them for photos.

“We also have the dogs visit patients in hospital beds, if they have approval from their physician, and if they want to see a dog while they are there visiting,” says Tomkalski. “The dogs have been so welcomed by everyone and [even prove therapeutic] for our nurses and doctors too.”

One doctor in particular, Dr. Quyen Ha, stopped in to watch the dogs and patients interact. “This is the first time I’ve seen this,” says Ha. “They do a lot of neat things here at CTC A. The dogs are comforting to the patients and that’s important. It’s comforting for me too, very therapeutic.”

Most importantly, patients like Spencer Kar from Dodge, Texas, are a testimony to the success of the therapy program. Battling cancer for years now, he spends three to four days per treatment at CTC A.

“We have a Golden Retriever at home,” Kar says. “There’s a great sense of comfort with the dogs. I have been fighting cancer for six years now; it’s a stressful endeavor. I can say being around wellmannered dogs, that it provides a sense of calm to the patient. It gets your mind off the treatment and what will happen in the future and puts it on a warm-hearted dog.”

Another patient, Buddy Hill, watches as his granddaughters fawn over a Golden Retriever and talk about how they miss their animals back in Tennessee. Hill and his daughter Jerri Thompson have spent five weeks at CTC A, 600 miles from home.

“It’s helped me,” Thompson says. “It fills the void of not being able to love on their dogs. It’s neat to see the patients’ faces light up when the dogs enter the room.”

The handlers clearly love what they do. “Every day is new,” says Wilson. “I like working with kids and seeing people smile and talk about their pets. We do make a difference. CTC A has been so welcoming to have us on board.”

“I was always interested in animal therapy,” Meyer adds. “Just to see the look on people’s faces and how they react; it makes it all worth it.”

Pet owners interested in becoming a pet therapy handler can contact Sharon Wilson or Dusty Meyer. They are both tester/observers (T/O), who can answer questions and start the testing process.

Testing and registering is important because it proves to the administration of the facility that the team is covered by TDInc.’s liability insurance. This insurance covers the people who are visited in the event of illness or injury resulting from contact with the dog.

There is no a certain breed that is better than another for therapy work. Wilson favors the Samoyed breed, Meyer has a Golden Retriever, and some of his members have large 170-lb. St. Bernards. Even Chihuahuas make great therapy pets.

A dog that is healthy, well-mannered and favors human contact possesses the traits necessary for therapy visits. As far as what makes a good handler, Wilson says, “Have time, energy and transportation.” For more information, visit; contact Dusty Meyer at (918) 747-3201 or email [email protected] You may also contact Sharon Wilson at (918) 342- 5343 or email [email protected]

Animal Control 411

posted September 21st, 2013 by

by Rachael Weaver

Every day is different for an animal control officer. Seven officers serve the City of Tulsa and their day’s responsibilities could include stray and injured animal pick up, livestock on the roadway to mediating disagreements between neighbors. However, stray dogs are what they see most.

Jean Letcher, manager of Tulsa Animal Welfare, said an officer’s first duty is to enforce the ordinances of the City of Tulsa when it comes to animals, which includes all of Title 2 (the animal code) and part of Title 21, which specifically addresses the outside sale of animals—or “street corner vendors” as Letcher described them.

Barking dogs is one of many calls dispatch receives daily. To handle this, they send out letters. If the letter doesn’t work, then it becomes a matter of the Tulsa Police Department because then it’s disturbing the peace, Letcher said.

Dispatch will receive calls about barking dogs with citizens specifically asking the officers to retrieve the dogs. But they cannot walk onto an individual’s property because someone has made a complaint.

“We cannot just walk onto someone’s property and take their animal,” Letcher said. “In Oklahoma, pets are personal property just like your car, just like your stereo.”

Officers are not able to go through locked gates or able to arrest people. If they believe someone needs to be arrested, Letcher said they must call the Tulsa Police Department for assistance.

While officers cannot arrest an individual, they can write citations and question citizens in an investigation.

Animal cruelty is also something officers investigate if they receive a report that someone is either neglecting or abusing an animal.

“We’re the first line on that,” said Susan Stoker, field supervisor, who oversees all officers. “We get a lot of complaints for dogs that don’t have food, water, shelter, so we try to resolve those. More serious cruelties— we are the first to respond on most of those. And if they need follow-up, they go to our cruelty investigator.”

The cruelty investigator, who’s not one of the seven animal control officers, works on these cases until pet owners correct the problem or until the officers need to remove the animal. It can sometimes take weeks to resolve an issue.

If an animal is in imminent danger, officers can confiscate it. Imminent danger is classified as an “exigent circumstance,” meaning if an animal is about to die, the officer will take it. Examples include if animals are starving or if a dog on a tether is caught on a fence and might hang itself.

“If the chance is it’s not going to live, we’d rather take the dog and give it back then leave it there and have it die,” Stoker said.

Animals can also be confiscated if they have bitten someone. Animal control officers are mandated by the state to quarantine that animal for 10 days to determine it does not have rabies, Letcher said.

“So if your animal bites someone, we’re going to take your animal,” Letcher said. “If you prevent us from doing that, not only will you get a citation for not giving us your animal, we will call TPD (Tulsa Police Department), and you will probably be arrested for interfering with an officer.”

A Day in the Life

Officers work 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and each day they pick which area of the city in which they want to work. Then dispatch starts assigning calls to each officer.

“Some days they might be swamped with calls; other days are a little bit slower,” Stoker said.

Calls come in from citizen phone calls, the Mayor’s Action Center or the Tulsa Police Department and are run based on priority to some extent, Stoker said.

Animals can be impounded in the field, and officers take them to the Tulsa Animal Welfare Shelter (3031 N. Erie Ave.). Stoker said officers give animals their first set of vaccines as they check them in. They scan for microchips twice before the animal reaches a kennel. Then they take a photo that is placed on, which is updated throughout the day.

“So if someone is missing their animal, they can check on that and they will see a picture of their pet,” Stoker said. “Or if someone is looking to adopt an animal, they can see what we have too.”

As the end of the day nears, dispatch tries to slow down on calls. It doesn’t always quite work because some calls after 5 p.m. might not be able to wait until the next day. Starting at 5:30 p.m., Stoker said priority calls go to the standby officer who will respond on injured animals, police assists, some dog bites and loose livestock.

“We get a lot of livestock calls at night,” Stoker said. Whether a dog bite, police assist, or welfare check on an abandoned dog, officers are expected to perform their duties in a timely matter. “Response to the citizens of Tulsa is important,” Letcher said.

Officers are asked to “respect the citizens no matter what the situation is and to resolve the situation taking into account the ordinances and the laws of the community,” she added.

If you ask an officer what the most rewarding part of his or her job is, Stoker said it’s going to vary depending on who is answering.

“I think we all have different goals for what we’re trying to achieve,” she said. “For me, I’d like to see the animal that I pick up either get reunited with his family or get adopted. I want him out of here in a good way.”

Officers also experience frustrating aspects of their job, such as repeatedly returning to the same address because of the same problem.

“Our officers care about their jobs, and they care about animals,” Letcher said. “They want the best for the animals. Our job would be much easier if people would do the right thing by the animal.”

Stoker reiterates that idea. “Animals think; they feel. It’s not just a car you park out in your yard.”

8th Annual Woofstock & Million Mutt March

posted September 11th, 2013 by
Logo 1

8th Annual Woofstock to include the “Million Mutt March”, a special walk for animal lovers to raise money to help stomp out animal cruelty, set for Saturday, Sept. 14 at Jenks Riverwalk

(Jenks) The 8th annual Woofstock event is set for Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Jenks Riverwalk Crossing, 10 am to 2 pm.
One of Oklahoma’s largest pet adoption events, Woofstock features a variety of activities for people and pets, booths of pet-related businesses, and fun activities. The event brings together area rescues and pet-related businesses for a fun-filled day of peace, love, and pets. The event is hosted by the Oklahoma Alliance for Animals (OAA) along with 98.5 KVOO, 106.9 KHITS, Big Country 99.5, 1170 KFAQ, and 92.9 BOB FM. Admission is free.
“Woofstock is an opportunity for prospective pet owners to meet area rescues and hundreds of potential candidates in one location,” said Jamee Suarez, president of OAA. “Whether you are looking for a one-of-a-kind mix, a particular breed or even a cat, Woofstock is a chance to learn which pet is right for you. It’s an opportunity for homeless pets to find loving, forever homes.”

This year’s event will be kicked-off by OAA’s, Million Mutt March, a short walk to stomp out animal cruelty. Funds from the walk will be used for OAA’s efforts in fighting animal cruelty in Oklahoma. Pledge forms can be printed off
There will be pet contests, pet-related vendors, over 15 area rescue groups, and Radar the Weather Dog from News on 6.
Pet-related businesses attending include veterinarians, trainers, retail businesses, groomers and doggie day care. Pet and rescue groups attending include Sooner Golden Retriever Rescue, Epic’s Pit Bull Rescue, Lab Rescue OK, Inc., German Shepherd Rescue of Tulsa, Horizon Animal Heroes Association, GI Wishes/A Pet for a Vet, Tulsa Animal Welfare, Chouteau Pound Pals, TX & OK German Shorthaired Pointer Rescue, Okmulgee Humane Society and Mutty Paws.
Adopted pets receive a free micro-chip and ID tag. Pets attending the event can receive $20 micro chipping and $5 ID tags from OAA. Animal communicator Pam Case will be on hand to help people communicate with animals here or that have passed on as well as helping people with lost pets.
The event’s title sponsor is Animal Emergency Center and supporting sponsors are Marina Animal Clinic and Companions Forever.8th Annual Woofstock

September / October 2013 TulsaPets Magazine

posted September 10th, 2013 by

Blazes Equine Rescue

posted August 21st, 2013 by

This is the latest newsletter from Blazes Equine Rescue

Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue
17667 Markita Dr.  Jones, OK  73049
(405) 399-3084 or (405) 615-5267
[email protected]
Federal I.D. 43-2024364


July 23, 2013


Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue, Inc. located in Jones, Oklahoma, is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that strives to improve the lives of neglected, starved, and abused horses.  We provide equine rescue regardless of age or disability.  We promote and teach horse care and humane, natural methods of training horses.  Our primary focus is Animal Cruelty Cases.  We work closely with the Oklahoma City Animal Welfare Division and the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office with their Equine related Animal Cruelty Cases.  We also assist any other local/rural county sheriff’s office who request our assistance.



It has been an extremely busy year.  Hard to believe the last time that I was able to sit down and put together a newsletter was in February.  So much as happened since then, but we will try to get everyone brought up to date. 


So far this year, we have rescued 145 horses.  That is more than we rescued the entire year of 2012.  On April 06, 2013, we assisted Seminole County Sheriff’s Office with the Seizure of 64 horses and 3 Llama’s.  One week later on April 11, 2013, we assisted Garvin County Sheriff’s Office with the seizure of 22 horses.  We also assisted Oklahoma City Animal Welfare Division with several horses this year and just recently the City of Edmond with a seizure of 11 horses.  We are currently caring for 124 horses.  Thankfully, we have been blessed with many wonderful adoptions this year, but as you know, we still need to adopt out many other wonderful horses. 


With so many horses coming into our program, please consider making a donation to assist us with these beautiful horses daily care.  Blaze’s Equine Rescue always makes themselves readily available to cruelty cases worked by the Sheriff’s Department.  This year has been a bit overwhelming, but because of you, we are able to assist with these large seizures.  Thank you for your continued support. 

Please take a look at some of our recent rescues that request your assistance.









Gal came into our rescue program on July 20, 2013.  Gal came from the Oklahoma City Animal Welfare Division.  Gal is a Beautiful, Bay, Appaloosa, Mare.  Gal is estimated to be 20 years of age.  Gal is super sweet and loves attention.  She is a body score of a 1, emaciated, and infested with parasites.  This sweet girl has a long road of recovery ahead of her.  She loads in a trailer and stands for the farrier.  We will update as she progresses.   Please consider donating towards Gal’s rehabilitation.









Kelssys Lady came into our rescue program on July 03, 2013. Kelssys Lady came from The Edmond Animal Welfare Division along with 10 other horses as a cruelty case. Kelssys Lady is a Beautiful, Gray, Thoroughbred, Mare. Kelssys Lady is registered and her date of birth is April 24, 1996. Kelssys Lady is a body score of a 1. She is infested with internal/external parasites, has rain rot and is mildly anemic. She is super sweet, very smart and loves attention. She loads in a trailer and stands for the farrier. We will update as she progresses. Please consider making a donation towards Kelssys Lady’s Rehabilitation.


Wallflower & Michelle came into our rescue program on April 19, 2013. Wallflower came from the Seminole City Police Department along with 9 other horses as a severe cruelty case. We were able to assist Seminole City and save 10 horses. Wallflower is a Beautiful, Blue Roan, Quarter Horse, Mare. Wallflower is estimated to be 10 years of age. Wallflower is a body score of a 1. The day after Wallflower arrived, she foaled a beautiful little filly, Michelle. Michelle’s legs were hyper extended when she was born, but thankfully, with stall rest and time, her little legs straightened up. Both Wallflower and Michelle are doing good. Michelle is small, but has a huge heart. She is super sweet and loves attention. Wallflower is infested with internal/external parasites, has rain rot and is moderately anemic. She is super sweet and very smart. She loves attention. Wallflower loads in a trailer and stands for the farrier. Wallflower still has a long road of recovery ahead of her. She is currently giving everything to little Michelle. She will take some time to rehabilitate. We will update as she progresses. Please consider donating towards Wallflower’s Rehabilitation.









Jetta came into our rescue program on April 06, 2013. Jetta came from the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office along with 62 other horses and 3 Llama’s as a severe cruelty case. Seminole County investigated an animal cruelty case consisting of over 120 animals, where several carcasses were found. Sadly, for many horses, help came too late. We were able to assist Seminole County and save 63 horses and 3 Llama’s from neglect. Jetta is a Beautiful, Dun/White, Paint, Mare. Jetta is estimated to be 7 years of age. Jetta is extremely emaciated with a body score of a 1. She is infested with internal/external parasites, has rain rot and is mildly anemic. She is super sweet and very smart. She loves attention and always easy to approach and catch. She loads in a trailer and stands for the farrier. Jetta has a long road of recovery ahead of her. We will update as she progresses. Please consider making a donation towards Jetta’s Rehabilitation.

We have so many wonderful horses in our program, and so many with needs that ask for your assistance.  From horses with lameness issues that need treated, to horses with severe fungus issues, emaciation, wounds, hernia surgeries, castrations, EPM Treatment, teeth floating, etc.,  Our horses are our top priority and it takes a lot to properly care for so many rescued horses.  Whether you make a monetary donation, adopt a horse, or simply say a prayer for Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue, we truly appreciate your support.

Because of YOU and your heartfelt generosity, we are able to save these horses and many others from an uncertain death.  We ask for your assistance as we have so many more horses in our program that need your help.  Our average monthly expenses now total $7500.00.  If you can please help us, continue to save rescued horses, please make a donation to:


Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue
17667 Markita Drive
Jones, Oklahoma  73049

or you can donate on-line through paypal @


We are currently caring for 124 horses in our rescue program.  We have many wonderful horses that are seeking their forever, loving homes.  I hope that you will consider adopting a rescued horse.  Whether you are able to make a donation or adopt a rescued horse, both help us tremendously. 




2nd Annual Blaze’s Ride to the Rescue Trainers Challenge


We had a wonderful time at our 2nd Annual Blaze’s Ride to the Rescue Trainers Challenge.  It was held on May 4th at the Lazy E Arena.  All the trainers did an amazing job with their horses and because of their hard work and dedication, all 13 horses competing was successfully adopted.  Everyone had an amazing time.  This years winner was Kelci Goad with Team Kodak. 


We are already gearing up for our 3rd Annual Blaze’s Ride to the Rescue Trainers Challenge.  It will be held on April 26, 2014 at the Lazy E Arena.  For all trainers interested in competing, please look for applications to be released in September. 


Success Stories


Many of you know, our beautiful State of Oklahoma took a devastating hit with Tornado’s this year.  It was so heartbreaking and our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to those that have been affected.  We know how hard it is to recover from such tragic events and we continue to pray for healing. 


We remember the heartache and tragedy felt for us, when one of our own was directly hit 2 years ago.  Loosing 18 horses of your own is hard and although that devastating tornado that hit 2 years ago was personal for us, we still had a hard time watching the devastation hit Moore.  Feelings of helplessness overwhelm you, as you see hundreds of horses lives lost.  Behind all that heartbreak brings us to a very special family.


 You never know when taking time from your day to help someone else, how it may impact their life. I can honestly say, that I never knew how much my life would be impacted. On May 21st, I received a phone call from a man who was tearfully searching for his horse after the devastating Tornado struck Moore. I wanted to help him so badly, but information was limited, but I tried to direct him where I had seen some of the survivors receiving care.  I talked to him, got a description of his horse and then I began the search of trying to locate his horse.  Sadly, We discovered that their horse didn’t survive the Tornado and he was devastated. I spoke to him twice on May 21st and my heart broke for his loss.


I have thought of this man several times over the last several weeks. And, to my surprise, this wonderful man and his sweet wife paid us an unexpected visit. They came over to thank me for taking the time to speak to them and help them. Although, I didn’t feel like I really did much, they assured me that I did more than I could ever imagine. I can’t even begin to state how much it meant to me to meet this family. They told us stories of their sweet Knead (Ned), who they lost in the Tornado and showed me pictures of him. I felt so many emotions meeting this wonderful couple.


Another week went by and once again, I was blessed to spend some time with this sweet family. Only this time, I did what I felt she needed and provided her some Equine Therapy. Davina spent several hours providing love to some of the horses. But, I think that she may have bonded with a very special horse that needs her, just as much as she needs him.  I am happy to say that Davina and Jet hit it off immediately.  We wanted to help this family, the only way we knew how.  We tried to fill that void in their hearts and I believe Jet will be able to bring back a few smiles.  Davina and Jet are doing wonderful together.  Davina felt like his name needed something more, so she has added a T.  Jett, stands for Just Enough Time To, you can fill in the blank, but it looks like Love.  No matter what you do in your day to day business. Please, always remember to take time out of your day, even for 5 minutes to help someone else. You never know what kind of impact you may have or what type of relationship you may form. 


Our Miracle Horse returns a favor



I’m sure many of you remember Catori and Moonstruck.  Catori was one of the horses bound for slaughter when the driver fell asleep at the wheel.  The truck careened off the road. The grisly accident left only 17 of the 30 horses on board alive.  When Catori arrived to our rescue, we discovered she was pregnant.  During the 2011 spring equinox – when the moon was closer to the earth than it had been in more than 20 years – Catori gave birth to a healthy, rambunctious foal. This miracle foal, born under the “supermoon,” was appropriately named “Moonstruck.”


Just 2 months later, a major F5 Tornado hit Canadian County.  Our Board Member was fostering Catori and Moonstruck, as well as, many other wonderful horses.  Their farm destroyed, leaving only 3 survivors out of 21 horses.  Once again, Catori and Moonstruck had beat the odds.


In May of this year, two F5 Tornados reaped through our state.  Out of the rubble in El Reno, emerged a 2 day old filly, named Twister.  Twister’s mother was killed in the tornado. Work began immediately to find a surrogate mother to care for the little foal. Several horses were evaluated, but Twister totally disregarded them.


At that point, The Walling family decided it would be best to foster her so that she could be close to home.  Twister’s family had lost everything, but having Twister survive brings hope to this family.


Twister was then introduced to Moonstruck, now two-years-old, and the two became fast friends. They shared a connection, a legacy of near-death and amazing survival that connected them in a way that touches us profoundly. It was as if Moonstruck was returning a favor, caring for a foal that had a story of survival not unlike his. 


And Last, but certainly not least.  Another happy tail! 


We are so happy for two of our former rescued horses, Jitterbug and Twitter, who have been adopted to an amazing program. The Staff and Volunteers at Savannah Station Therapeutic Riding Program are amazing. We are truly blessed and honored to have met this great group. We can’t wait to see Jitterbug and Twitter blossom in their program. And, we can’t wait to see this group join us next year for our 3rd Annual Blaze’s Ride to the Rescue Trainers Challenge. Won’t it be wonderful to see Jitterbug and Twitter next year show us all the wonderful things they are doing for a great group of kids?



Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your continued support!!  We wouldn’t be here today, without each and every one of you!!  Thank you on behalf of the entire Blaze’s Family!  So many horses would be lost without you! 

Over 1070 horses saved in the last 11 years!!

Former Sooners coach rescues Rottweiler from hot car

posted August 7th, 2013 by

Posted on: 9:53 am, August 7, 2013, by  and updated on: 07:37pm, August 7, 2013

UPDATE: The dog referenced in the story below has already found a home. He went to a family that lost their home in the Moore tornado. On top of that it is their wedding anniversary tomorrow and their friends are presenting them a very “dog-centric” gift pack.

NORMAN, Okla. – Coach Barry Switzer has a new best friend after rescuing a dog from a hot car earlier this week.

Shanna Williams with the Canine Sports Academy in Norman said the former Sooners coach saved “Sassy,” a Rottweiler, from a hot van.


Switzer said he saw the dog in the vehicle, which had the windows down, but still felt bad for the pup.

He took “Sassy” from the vehicle, found the owners and bought the dog from them on the spot.

Then he took her to a vet for a complete check up.

“I told the doc. I want rabies shots, check for worms, everything,” Switzer said. “They even clipped the toenails so it was a pedicure for her. She went to the spa.”

Switzer took the Rottweiler home to meet his four-legged crew.

He is now calling the pup “Stella” while he hand-picks the new owners.

“I want some loving family who loves dogs and cares about dogs like I do to be able to have her,” Switzer said.

This little guy and Switzer’s German Shepherd, “Sieger” seem to be getting along just fine.