Animal Advocacy

Making 2014 The Year of Advocacy For Animals

posted October 6th, 2014 by
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Year of Advocacy

By Ruth Steinberger

On a miserably cold night last winter, a plea for help came from a resident of a neighboring county. Tulsa temperatures were expected to dip below 5 degrees that night. The desperate caller described a donkey that had been tethered to a tree for over a week and was about to spend another night braying out loud in apparent and severe discomfort. 

I reached a frazzled sounding dispatcher who reluctantly reached a deputy for me. Thankfully, the deputy quickly got to the location, and according to anxious witnesses down the road, the donkey was immediately taken inside a barn. The owners obviously understood that the donkey was protected under the law, and a call history in the sheriff’s logs now flags that location in case of future calls.

Animal cruelty is a crime, and law enforcement agencies are the ones  who can step in to stop it. In his 2006 acceptance speech at the ASPCA Henry Bergh Award luncheon, former Chicago Police Officer Steve Brownstein noted that certain behaviors went from being treated as undesirable mischief to serious crimes in just a few decades due to public advocacy; he emphasized that animal cruelty was not one of the behaviors that was successfully challenged.

Brownstein pointed out that in 1960, intoxication was accepted as a “reason” for a fatal car crash, domestic violence was considered a private matter, child abuse was still two years away from being described for the first time in a mainstream medical publication, and animal cruelty was considered silliness.  

Drunk driving, domestic violence and child abuse were catapulted to the forefront by advocates who demanded the offenses be criminalized and that a public infrastructure become available to care for the victims. 

Animal cruelty still lags way behind other crimes in terms of response and prosecution; despite record levels of animal welfare awareness, many rural prosecutors have still never prosecuted a single cruelty case, dispatchers often do not know what to tell callers who are frantically trying to report cruelty, many cases that are reported are never investigated and organized animal cruelty, including dog fighting and the use of animals in pornography, are on the rise. 

Throughout much of the Midwest, there are no shelters available to house an animal if a sheriff’s office needs emergency placement for a cruelty victim. In fact, despite being a felony, an incident of animal cruelty or neglect that is reported, investigated and successfully prosecuted to the extent of the law is the exception, not the rule. 

Brownstein’s point was that animal cruelty continues to be treated differently and therefore, less effectively, than other crimes. The problem is not a lack of com-passion by officers, nor is it a lack of concern by the public; the problem is a quagmire of misinformation that inadvertently lets public agencies off the hook and leaves animals out in the cold.

A combination of understaffed law enforcement agencies and a seriously undereducated public leave animals suffering. Until public demand and emergency responders are all on the same page, it will remain that way. 

We do not donate to private anti-crime organizations and, in turn, expect them to investigate murders. We report crimes to the police, and we expect them to act. 

Animal cruelty became the purview of those who were socially opposed to it in the 1800s.  Today, despite enormous public concern for animals in distress, the diversion away from municipal agencies continues. 

Many people think they should report cruelty to a local humane society, a belief that is fostered by fundraising campaigns that promise to address cruelty by having viewers respond to pictures of injured pets by sending money across the nation.  

Convicted dog fighter Michael Vick was jailed due to federal laws that were successfully lobbied by national animal advocacy organizations not long before his arrest. However, while national lobbying efforts indeed strengthen federal animal protection laws, stopping cruelty within our own community is absolutely a local affair that is driven by residents with the power to elect someone good to office or throw someone bad out. 

Until local and state leaders view animal cruelty as a voters’ issue, the response to it will continue to be the luck of the draw.  Make a 2014 commitment to speak for the animals with your vote, your voice, your purchasing power and your presence at the courthouse during  a trial. 

Create a letter writing tree to send a flurry of postcards to officials and letters to editors. Develop a phone tree to support animal welfare legislation during the 2014 legislative session. Ten cards or letters may be 10 more than an official has ever received.

Present an animal-friendly force at a council meeting. Every single time a candidate asks for your vote, ask for his or her sense of urgency about enforcement of animal welfare laws. If they do not care about animal cruelty, they do not deserve your vote. Shop cruelty free, especially boycotting products from China and Korea, where dogs, cats and other animals are horrifically tortured before being killed to be eaten.         

Create a “red T-shirt” anti-cruelty brigade, a group of animal advocates who attend court hearings. The red T-shirts tell the courtroom you are there, that you support the prosecutor and care about what happens. 

By having a group of people who commit to being available, the responsibility doesn’t fall to the same few again and again. Follow the case all the way through; don’t have four or five red shirts at just the first hearing and then vanish. Empty benches tell the judge and prosecutor that we don’t care quite enough to stay on it. 

The presence of those who care absolutely makes a difference.  At the end of the case, publicly thank the agencies that worked hard to bring the case to court. As animal advocates, we are the family of the four-legged victim who was dragged behind a truck, ignited by gang members, starved in a cold garage or hoarded like trash. We are the family of the victim. 

The story of the donkey that was moved inside a barn on that freezing night did not end there.  It was followed up by a call to the sheriff of that county to thank him for the deputy’s response. A letter went to the local newspaper, thanking the sheriff publicly as well. 

Local voters are the only ones who can make the point about animal cruelty to our local elected officials… we need to do so.

If we have to stand up for hours at a hearing or protest by sitting down on the courthouse steps, animal cruelty will be vigorously prosecuted—but only when we, as local voters, refuse to tolerate cruelty one minute more.

Feeding The Need

posted September 29th, 2014 by
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Feed the Need

by Kayte Spillman 

Kim Pempin, with the help of her husband Michaeland a group of volunteers, gives away thousands of pounds of dog food to Oklahoma City’s neediest pets every month through her nonprofit, the Pet Food Pantry of Oklahoma City. 

It took just one night to open Kim Pempin’s eyes to the need that was right before her.

One evening, she took a small donation of dog food to Skyline Urban Ministries, a nonprofit organization that addresses the needs of poverty in Oklahoma. The group was having a bingo night with seniors, each receiving their choice of clothing or food if they won a game of bingo.

“Every single person who won chose the food,” she said.

Even though she had been donating pet food for about a year, as she saw the need arise, the realization that people would choose dog food over food or clothing for themselves startled Kim.

“I realized people will give up their food before they let their pets go hungry,” she said. “I realized if we give the pets food, they won’t give them their food, and then everyone has a full tummy.”

She went home that night and told her husband Michael that they needed to start an organization to give dog food to low-income seniors, veterans and the homeless.

“I can still remember the day she came in,” Michael said. “She walks through the kitchen while I’m watching TV and says, ‘We’re starting a pet pantry!’ And I said, “OK, babe!”

And, so they did.

Michael and Kim started in their garage in July 2010. They’d make bags of dog food and deliver them where they knew there was a need. In the beginning, with just homemade scoops out of Cain’s coffee cans and improvising, the pair came up with a lot of ways to make it work with what they had.

“To fill the bags and to weigh how much we had, I would stand on a regular scale, and Mike would fill up the bag until I gained eight or nine pounds,” Kim said, with a laugh.

From there, as their needs, donations and client list grew, they secured a storage facility, then expanded into a second.

“We quickly outgrew those places because we were getting more food donations than we could handle,” Kim said. 

Finally, a benefactor got on board and allowed the growing group of volunteers to occupy a large warehouse space for a low yearly cost. And, they connected with Rescue Bank, a nonprofit that runs a national pet food distribution program by partnering with major dog food manufacturers to donate products to them. In turn, Rescue Bank provides large donations to the Pet Pantry. Thanks to a  partnership with Rescue Bank and with a space that has multiple ground-level dock doors and a large storage facility to house, sort and organize the food donations, the Pet Food Pantry now is able to serve a much wider audience.

“Everything that has happened proves that God was saying, ‘OK, I asked you to start this, and I’m going to see you through this,” Kim said. “We just keep doing what we’re doing, and we’ll do it as long as we have the means to do it. We’ve only begun to tap the need of what is out there.”

Today, the organization serves about 500 or more dogs a month, delivering anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 pounds of dog food. Despite the large size of the facility that they work out of, Michael said the demand they are trying to meet means they are already starting to fill up their current space.

“Whenever you move into somewhere, you say, ‘I’ll never outgrow this place,’” he said. “And we’re two-thirds full now.”

With 19 route drivers, the group visits about 85 seniors monthly through home deliverers.

“It started out just delivering pet food,” Michael said. “It is so much more now. It is making sure pets are taken care of, but it is also to make sure their owners are OK too. Make sure they have food, clothing, etc. It seems like something really simple, but it is way more than that.”

Kim says for homebound seniors, their pets are the only family they might see for days and days. She says she was taking food to a senior through Meals on Wheels one time and saw the woman give her food to the dog out of necessity.

“People really will take care of their dogs before they take care of themselves,” she said.

The Styers family—Steve, April and their 15-year-old daughter Maddie—have been volunteering for the Pet Pantry for about a year. They drive a route one Saturday a month, visiting several seniors and their pets. For April, she enjoys being able to spend time volunteering as a family, and she says building relationships with the people she gets to meet is the real joy.

“We have some really incredible people on our route,” April said. “By bringing food for the animals, we are helping improve the nutrition of the owners. And we will bring treats for the owners too.”

She says having the regular contact with the owners allows her to assess what needs they have as well, like providing hams for her seniors at Christmas time. She says her first delivery was to a woman named Bunny, who has several cats and feeds a stray dog named Grandpa. April says Bunny had just lost her adult son when they met, and April and her family were able to build a relationship with her over the past year.

“She always comes out and sits on the porch and talks with us,” April said. “Every single time we see her, she wants us to pray with her. Our volunteering is much more about the relationships we get to have with people like Bunny. ”

“It’s a pretty incredible experience,” April said.

In addition, the Pet Pantry is “boots on the ground” serving a “ton of homeless and a handful of veterans” every month by bringing donations directly to where they know the owners and pets will be. In addition to partnering with the Regional Food Bank, they also partner with Ice Angels, a nonprofit organization that hands out food and water to the homeless. The Pet Pantry volunteers travel to where the homeless live, rather than taking the food to a shelter, because Kim says they know many homeless people who have pets will not go to a shelter because they cannot bring their animals with them.

“Along with the pet food, I also try to give them fleece jackets and blankets, because I know they won’t go to a shelter because they can’t take their dogs,” Kim said. “These pets are their families.”

With delivery routes, sorting and organizing the food and personal hand deliveries almost every weekend, the Pempins and their crew of volunteers are busy all throughout the month fulfilling donation requests. Even so, Kim says she often gets a call that sends her out in the evenings. Or she will make stops on her way home from work where she knows there is a need.

“Last weekend, I just loaded up about 600 pounds of food and delivered it to some people I knew needed  it,” Kim said. “I probably have 200 pounds of dog food in my car all the time, just in case there is someone who needs it. My husband calls me a pet food hoarder! But I can’t go to sleep at night and think, ‘Well, I was too tired after work to take them food.’”

For more information, visit While there, donors can donate through Paypal. To volunteer, email [email protected] or call  (405) 664-2858. Or check out their volunteer tab on the home page. 

Animal Resource Center of Oklahoma City

posted September 15th, 2014 by
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Animal Resource 1

Keeping animals where they belong…in loving homes

by Anna Holton-Dean

What better way could there be to help pets, their owners, shelters and rescue groups than to provide a facility meeting all of their greatest needs? That’s why the Lockhart Foundation established the Animal Resource Center (ARC) in Oklahoma City.  

In 2010, through a survey of local rescue groups and shelters, the Foundation discovered the city lacked an affordable, animal-friendly event center for training classes, adoptions, fundraisers, meetings, conferences, spaying/neutering and vaccinating. Additionally, while some local services and organizations are available to help pet owners, most people do not know about them, much less how to contact them.

Barbara Lewis, board president of the Animal Resource Center, says the survey also revealed a need for a central location to maintain a database of information.

 “Additionally, the Foundation was trying to figure out what could be done to keep dogs in their homes and really saw there was no central site for information con-cerning available services such as when someone loses a job and needs pet food, or even simply getting help overcoming problem behavior by talking with a trainer,” Lewis explains.

The Animal Resource Center is now in place to help meet all of these diverse needs, thanks to the Lockhart Foundation, which remains a major supporter, and donations from the community.

Essentially, Lewis’ goal at ARC is to remove the stumbling blocks for animal advocacy and effectively keep dogs and cats out of shelters and in their homes, helping each rescue organization or shelter to be as effective as possible and helping at-risk pet owners keep their pets.

Some ways ARC advances this goal is by providing workshops to the public on responsible pet ownership,  and providing a facility to hold adoption events and dog training classes, ranging from puppy kindergarten to agility.

Lewis says ARC stresses the importance of responsible decisions by pet owners. “It’s dogs, and it’s cats too,” she says. “Cats often impact the neighbors more than dogs, but there are solutions for those problems…We can help keep someone from surrendering their cat because their neighbor is mad.”

Today, ARC is located in a 32,000-square-foot building in Oklahoma City equipped with rooms for dog training classes, a free self-service bathtub area for pets, an “animal library” stocked with books, DVDs and videos, and rental space for animal- and non-animal-related events.

The library is open to the public and includes children’s animal literature, dog training books, animal novels and books on pet care and more. “People may just want to read a novel about a dog,” Lewis says. “They can probably find the right one in our library, but if they need help with a serious house training issue, we can probably help them with that as well.”

In addition to resources, a large warehouse area serves as an “inside dog park” during operational hours when not rented for an event (which is heated but not air-conditioned).

One of the newest offerings is free spaying/neutering for animal shelters and rescue groups.

Also, “three veterinarians offer low-cost spay/neuter to low-income pet owners, and one offers low-cost vet care for low-income pet owners as well as general vet care to the public,” Lewis says.

“If a person still needs help with vet expenses, ARC does try to work out something for them. Each vet has a different rate schedule and requirements. Low-cost vet care is currently available one day a week and will increase as needed.” 

All of the services provided at the ARC facility are in partnership with other groups, while ARC provides the building, advertising, help setting up, cleaning afterward, tables, chairs, projectors and other necessities for events. 

The varying organizations who utilize the ARC’s facilities are juxtaposed by their inclusive mission: to save pets’ lives. Along with other rescue groups, Mascotas Latinas, an organization dedicated to assisting pet owners in the Latin community, uses ARC as a place to meet with adopters.

SpayFirst, an organization which offers spaying/ neutering in low-income communities, also uses the ARC office as a mailing and delivery address since most of its clinics are held in rural areas. This is an area that ARC is trying to expand upon, Lewis says.

 Some of the regular renters who take advantage of all ARC has to offer include: Oklahoma City Obedience Training Club; German Shepherd Club; Golden Retriever Club; OKPaws Agility Club; two flyball clubs; Central OK Veterinarians Association; A New Leash On Life, Inc., offering training for service dogs, therapy dogs and a prison program; Best Friends Veterinarian (Brad Roach, DVM); and Spay Way (Terri Yonker, DVM), a low-cost spay/neuter service, to name a few.

Upcoming spring events include a yoga class with dogs sponsored by LuLuLemon, a Bella Foundation vaccination clinic, a bird mart and a garage sale fundraiser for rescue groups. Most events for cats are held in the fall.

Space is available to rent for large parties and gatherings, and ARC holds events in conjunction with other community service organizations. For more information, call (405) 604-2892 or visit

ARC is conveniently located at the intersection of I-240 and I-35. Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 2 to 5 p.m.

Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue

posted July 17th, 2014 by
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Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue

17667 Markita Dr.  Jones, OK  73049

(405) 399-3084 or (405) 615-5267

[email protected]

July 16, 2014

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.


I apologize that we are so far behind on our quarterly newsletters.  As I am sure you can imagine, we have been extremely busy.  I want to start this newsletter off a bit differently and go over what Blaze’s Equine Rescue has done for the last 13 years.  We have built this organization with an open door policy, so to speak.  Our family has dedicated everything to rescuing neglected horses and caring for them.  We made huge sacrifices to follow my passion.  To follow the path that God has lead me to.  We have saved nearly 1200 horses in the last 13 years.  Many have come to us from deplorable conditions.  Many have scars that can’t be undone.  But, all of them deserve love and deserve the highest standard of care.  We do our best to meet that highest standard of care.  Sadly, we are only limited to 20 acres of land, plus foster homes.  We are the only rescue in the State of Oklahoma and most of the surrounding states that care for 100 to 200 head of rescued horses at any given time. 


We have to feed hay year around.  Can you imagine the expense involved for caring for so many horses?  We feed 24 Round Bales of Sprayed/Fertilized Bermuda Hay every 7 days.  That is $60.00 a bale with delivery.  We feed roughly 96 bales a month costing us $5,760.00 just for hay a month.  We do occasionally receive the rare donation of round bales, but sadly, one of our largest expenses is Hay.  We also have to have square bales of hay for the horses in the barn.  We just purchased 100 square bales of hay at $5.50 a bale.


Of course, the expenses don’t stop there.  We have Veterinary care, vaccinations, wormers, farrier care, grain, supplements, shavings, mineral blocks, medical supplies, wound care supplies, and freeze branding expenses that go into the actual horse.  Now, let’s consider all the other needs in order to just run the rescue.  For instance, the office supplies that go into keeping everything accounted for, sending donation receipts, newsletters, records for each horse, etc., What about travel and wear and tear on our vehicles and trailers?  Every day, I have to run and pick up supplies, such as a grain, shavings, etc.   I pick up horses weekly, as well as, occasionally deliver a horse to an adopted home.  The expense involved for fuel, etc., is also very taxing.  We also have maintenance on our facility, from fencing, to repairs, to land payments, etc., the day to day cost is unbelievable to keep this organization running.  We work from sun up to sun down caring for these horses and seeing to it that every need is always met.  They never go without.  My family built this organization from the ground up and it is something that I am very proud of.  My husband, Shawn Cross, works for the City of Edmond.  He works so hard to care for the Cross family and then come home and care for the horses in our program.  It is an endeavor that usually goes without recognition.  We don’t do it for glory, recognition or rewards.  We do it because we love horses and feel that someone has to be their voice.


Now, we would like to show you how much Blaze’s Equine Rescue has grown throughout the years and how much State/City officials have come to rely on us to assist them with their animal cruelty cases.  We are never paid by the State or City for assisting them with their equine neglect cases.  All funding we receive is from private donations, private grants, adoption fees and fundraiser’s.  Please see below our numbers for the last 13 years we have operated.


We have rescued 1,167 horses since 2001.  We have successfully adopted out 959 horses into forever, loving homes.  We are currently caring for 108 rescued horses at this time.  Blaze’s has an 82% adoption rate.  We have sadly lost 8.8% of the rescued horses.  We either had to make the heart wrenching decision to end their suffering or they were not able to survive rehabilitation due to the extreme neglect they suffered.  When we first started, our first Veterinarian informed us that we would lose 20% of all rescues.  I am proud to say, we haven’t lost 20% in 13 years.  We have 28 lifers currently in our program.  What constitutes a lifer?  A lifer is a horse that is deemed unadoptable due to their medical disabilities or a horse that has been adopted out and returned 3 or more times.  These horses still maintain a good quality of life and will most likely live out the remainder of their life here at Blaze’s. 


We have many positive changes to Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue.  We would like to welcome our two newest board members Jennifer Bates and Vicki Ingram.  Jennifer & Vicki have been working hard on the upcoming playday, they hope to bring this event back each year.  The playday is a great way to have a fun family day with your horses.  We would love to see our adopted horses participate in the event.  We have a great group of board members, each actively involved in our day to day activities.  We can’t thank them all enough for all they have done to help make Blaze’s Equine Rescue the success it is.  Thank you Desiree Walling, Brian Walling, Leslie Brown, A’Lissa Devorss, Jennifer McCannon, Larry Bishop, Tina Hummell, Jennifer Bates, and Vicki Ingram.


We have many wonderful horses seeking their forever, loving home.  We have horses from yearlings to 30 years of age.  We have horses that are broke to ride and horses ready to go into training.  We have a select few horses that are just companion animals only.  Adoptions are very important to us, as for every horse adopted, that opens a spot for another horse to come in.  Adoptions save two lives.  Our adoption fee’s range from $300.00 to $800.00.  All adoption fees go back into our program for the next horse that comes in.  Sadly, we will never be able to recoup the expenses that we have put into each horse.  We ask that you please spread the word of our adoptable horses here at the rescue.  You won’t regret opening your heart and your home to a rescued horse.  The experience and the relationship you will form will be like no other.  Just ask any of our adopters, they will tell you how much their adopted horse means to them and what an impact that horse has brought to their lives, in a positive way.


Here are just a few of our current rescues that need your support.  The cost to rehabilitate a horse can be overwhelming.  We currently have 4 horses waiting for surgery.  3 horses need hernia surgery and 1 other horse is a crypt-orchard and needs surgery to be properly gelded.  All other horses receive full veterinary care and the proper diet to rehabilitate.  Please consider making a donation to help the horses currently in our rescue program. 


Cloud 20140717Cloud came into our rescue program on May 30, 2014.  Cloud came into our rescue program as an owner surrender.  Cloud is a Beautiful, Gray, Quarter Horse, Gelding.  Cloud is estimated to be 25 to 30 years of age.  Cloud is a body score of a 1.  He is infested with internal/external parasites.  He is an extremely sweet boy and loves attention.  It is clear this sweet boy has done something in his life.  He has a great personality, although a bit of a pig pen, he is doing well.  He stands for the farrier and loads in a trailer.  This beautiful boy has a long road to recovery ahead of him.  Please consider making a donation towards Cloud’s rehabilitation. 


Amanda 20140717Amanda came into our rescue program on June 25, 2014.  Amanda came into our rescue program from the Oklahoma City Animal Welfare Division as a cruelty case.  Amanda is a Beautiful, Bay, Standardbred X, Mare.  Amanda is estimated to be 18 years of age.  Amanda was a body score of a 1 when she entered OKC-AWD.  She was infested with internal/external parasites and covered in rain rot.  She is a sweet girl and loves attention.  She stands for the farrier and loads in a trailer.  This beautiful girl still has a bit of recovery ahead of her.  Please consider making a donation towards Amanda’s Rehabilitation. 


Oakley 20140717Oakley came into our rescue program on June 29, 2014.  Oakley came into our rescue program from the Oklahoma City Animal Welfare Division.  Oakley is a Beautiful, Sorrel, Quarter Horse, Gelding.  Oakley is estimated to be 8 years of age.  Oakley is a body score of a 1.  He is infested with internal/external parasites and covered in rain rot.  He is a sweet boy and loves attention.  He stands for the farrier and loads in a trailer.  This beautiful boy has a long road of recovery ahead of him.  Please consider making a donation towards Oakley’s Rehabilitation.

Griffin 20140717Griffin came into our rescue program on July 11, 2014. Griffin came from the Oklahoma City Animal Welfare Division.  Griffin is a Beautiful, Bay, Miniature, Stud.  Griffin is estimated to be 20 years of age. Griffin is a body score of a 2.  His feet are in horrible condition.  This is a super sweet boy that loves attention.  He has a long road of recovery ahead of him.  Once he puts on a suitable amount of weight, he will be gelded.  Please consider making a donation towards Griffin’s Rehabilitation.


Victor E. 20140717Victor E. came into our rescue program on June 03, 2014. Victor E. came from the Oklahoma City Animal Welfare Division.  Victor E. is a Beautiful, Sorrel, Quarter Horse, Gelding.  Victor E.  is estimated to be 25 years of age. Victor E. is a body score of a 1.  He is infested with internal/external parasites.  This is a super sweet boy that loves attention.  He has a long road of recovery ahead of him.  Please consider making a donation towards Victor E’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, vaccinations, deworming, 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 $8500.00.  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 108 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. 


Blaze’s 1st Annual Play Day


Come join us for a fun family day of horsing around on Saturday, July 19, 2014 at the Schrock Park Arena, West Main St, Tuttle, Oklahoma  73089.  We will have Barrels, Poles, Flags, and Bow Tie Events.  Cost is $10.00 per event, per rider on the day of the event without pre-registration.  Gates open at 4:00 pm, Books open at 5:00 pm and Events start at 7:00 pm.  We have ages from lead line to over 40!  All proceeds to benefit Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue. 




Blaze’s Haunt for the Horses Benefit Trail Ride


You are invited to join us October 25, 2014 for our 5th Annual Blaze’s Haunt for the Horses Benefit Trail Ride at Bell Cow Lake, Chandler, Oklahoma.  Check in begins @ 9:00 am. Guided and Self Paced rides will begin to leave at 10:00 am.  Lunch will be served at the pavilion at 12:30 and the costume contest starts at 2:00 pm.  Come join us for treats on the trail, door prizes, drawing, and good times with friends.  All proceeds benefit Blaze’s Equine Rescue.  Watch the website for early registration.  Registration covers T-Shirt, Lunch, and Trail Fee’s.  Paid pre-registration guarantees ride T-Shirt in your size.  For more information please call Leslie Brown @ 405-245-7309 or Natalee Cross @ 405-399-3084. 




4th Annual Blaze’s Ride to the Rescue Trainers Challenge



They say they can gentle an untrained horse.  “The Challenge is an event designed to showcase the skills of local equine trainers, while increasing the adoptability of previously untrained rescued horses”. 


Mark your calendars and plan to join us May 2nd, 2015 at the Lazy E Arena, Guthrie, Oklahoma for our 4th Annual Blaze’s Ride to the Rescue Trainers Challenge.  We will be accepting applications soon for local trainers.  If you are a Horse Trainer and interested in competing in our 4th Annual Blaze’s Ride to the Rescue Trainers Challenge, please email [email protected] and request the application.  We have made many changes to the Trainers Challenge, with a completely different competition format.  We can’t wait for you to see the new and improved Trainers Challenge.  






Success Stories


This is why we do what we do!  Success stories like this, is the reward for our countless hours of dedication, every last penny spent to save a life, the countless time we have fallen in love and the numerous times we have cried over a life lost.  This is why we sacrifice our needs daily, to see the wonderful success of a rescued horse and their adopter.  Every horse is different and every horse responds and works differently with different people.  We try our hardest to match the right horse with the right person.  It breaks our hearts, when it doesn’t work.  But, the pure joy and pride you feel, when you see the successful relationship, is indescribable.  See below for just a few of our success stories.


“I adopted little Miss Sno-Pea from you guys last August!  When she first arrived she was scared and very shy.  Since then she has really opened up, she comes when she’s called and behaves so well with children.  Her two favorite things to do (other than eating and more eating) is giving out rides to kids and tagging along on the trail rides.”

Chumley 20140717

“This is Chumley.  He was part of the 60 something horses rescued in April 2013.  I don’t know what he’s been thru in his 20 years but I do know he will NEVER know hunger, neglect, or abuse again!  He is such a joy to be around, loves to hang out with Doc, my only other male horse but his favorite buddy is June, my 30 something mare.  He always brings a smile to my face and warms my heart.  I’m blessed to have him J Thank you Blaze’s!”

 Chumley2 20140717

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 1168 horses saved in the last 13 years!

Oklahoma Shelter Animal Survey

posted July 15th, 2014 by
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by Ruth Steinberger

for The Kirkpatrick Foundation

Read the entire  2014 Spay FIRST Survey

The Oklahoma Shelter Animal Survey was designed to examine the myriad of factors that affect the numbers and conditions of unwanted dogs and cats in Oklahoma. We gathered data on shelter access, shelter protocols, affordable spay/neuter programs, household incomes and population density in order to present a matrix that describes the lives of at-risk pets.  We hope that this information will help to define the challenges facing those who strive to help homeless animals; we hope this information will empower their efforts.

We surveyed municipal shelters regarding general practices and asked for 1) the number of animals received, 2) the number euthanized, 3) method of euthanasia and carcass disposal, 4) what agency typically handles cruelty complaints, 5) are animals adopted out already altered or with a spay/neuter contract, 6) if a contract is used, is it enforced, 7) an estimate on number of calls for help from outside of jurisdiction, 8) is there a tag and/or spay neuter ordinance and, 9) is it enforced?   We truly appreciate the officers who spent time speaking with us.  We located as many as we learned of; please let us know if you see shelters that are not included in the survey.  It will remain online and information will be added in as it gets to us. Whenever animals are at risk, information about them is vital.

Because population is generally concentrated near highways, the information cites highway corridors in order to give the reader a visual description of the data.  The number of people per square mile is cited for each county because that information, combined with income levels, indicates the depth of the tax base that supports public services, including animal sheltering.

Many people care about the animals. However, in small cities in Oklahoma it is typical for a part time worker to manage the shelter and be responsible for other public works as well; animal welfare often takes a back seat.  Fewer than one fourth of cities have procedures that actually support compliance with the 1986 Oklahoma Dog and Cat Sterilization Act, a law intended to keep shelter animals from giving birth to more unwanted animals; many do not keep records of the number of animals handled and 28 shelters refused to return calls or told us they would not discuss their shelter policies with the public.    A small number of shelters regularly shoot at least some of the animals; shooting was earlier deemed a humane method of killing and to be acceptable for Oklahoma towns and cities with populations under 10,000 people.   That population describes over three quarters of Oklahoma municipalities.

Sensitive comments were excluded from this data.  Staff reports of using gunshot to kill dogs are not listed, as we could not confirm the information with city officials. Other shelters without licensed euthanasia technicians, and which refused to speak with us, may do likewise.

Unless the animal is being released to a research facility, there is no mandatory record keeping on the intakes, hold times and disposal of sheltered animals in Oklahoma.

With the exception of Broken Arrow all Oklahoma cities at or close to populations of 100,000 (Oklahoma City, City of Tulsa, City of Norman, City of Lawton) provided actual numbers for this survey.  With the exception of Broken Arrow the large cities sterilize all animals before release; Broken Arrow continues to release intact kittens and puppies.     Large population cities adopt out the greatest volume of shelter animals, meaning that it is likely that most shelter animals in Oklahoma are altered before release.

However, a steady flow of intact animals are released from shelters in rural areas that concomitantly have the least access to shelters overall, keep few records and have the lowest levels of income and law enforcement staffing per population; these areas lag far behind in terms of prevention, shelter access and animal welfare. The offspring of pets which are released to county homes that allow them to have a litter are without the original safety net of the shelter that originally released the parent, a situation that represents a decline in safety for the pets.

Two components have the greatest impact on the numbers of, and quality of life of, at-risk animals; the first is convenient access to affordable spay/neuter  programs  so  households may  prevent unwanted  litters  (see  map  on page  62), and the  second is  whether  or  not the  local municipality operates an animal collection facility that strives to engage best practices. We assessed the portion of households in each county that have access to a shelter and which do not (pp 63-73).    Those without shelter access are left to their own devices to deal with a stray or unwanted animal. A lack of sheltering makes abandonment into a de facto solution.

To describe access to spay/neuter services we focused on households earning under $25,000 per year, those earning under $35,000 per year and whether or not the home has access to services that charge under 90 percent of a day’s take home pay at minimum wage ($48 to $53) for a spay or neuter, the services are located within 40 miles from the county and are able to provide an appointment within 30 days.  We used those parameters as gas money, time lost from work and other incidentals add to the cost.

We focused on those two particular income groups because $35,000 has been defined as a threshold under which there is a significant decline in neutering of pets [JAVMA, Vol 234, No.8, April 15, 2009] and almost one third of US households earn under $25,000 per year [].  The volume of Oklahoma households in these income groups is higher than the national average; data at the bottom of each map comp ares the corridor to the national and state average.   Spay/neuter events such as Spay Day events were not included as spay/neuter access for the purpose of this survey.

It is a bit complicated to describe the number of homes with access to an animal shelter. A little known state statute limits sheltering to counties with populations exceeding 200,000 people, and only three out of 77 Oklahoma counties meet that population.  This statute creates a lack of infrastructure and a lot of suffering; legislative resistance to changing that law has come from county commissioners’ organi zations. Because of this statute people living within a town or city that is within a certain county have access to a shelter, those living in the county do not.

Our vision was to understand at-risk animals in the contexts in which they live and to define as many factors as possible that affect their lives.

In 19 Oklahoma counties, between 17 and 24 percent of households earn under $10,000 per year; 14 of those counties do not have easy access to affordable spay/neuter services, most have minimal access to sheltering and sheltering in these counties is generally not compliant with good practices.  We called these the ‘crisis counties.’  Law enforcement staffing in the crisis counties operates at 15 to 40 percent of the national level of law enforcement staffing (see pages 76-77).  Infrastructure for stopping neglect is poor as in these 19 counties as, 1) it is virtually impossible for many homes to prevent litters because they cannot afford to have pets spayed at full service prices, clinics are far away and our state license plate fund is underfunded, 2) there is little household access to shelters at which to release an unwanted animal and 3) deputies handle two to five times the number of cases as their counterparts in other states, making investigation of cruelty or abandonment problematic.

Abandonment is described as a problem in all Oklahoma counties; if we presume that most do not have a fairy tale ending, it is safe to say that conservatively thousands of animals are at-risk of becoming abandoned and subject to cruelty that are never even counted.

We collected data from phone calls, and relied on and Dept of Justice (DoJ) for statistics regarding population, income and law enforcement staffing.   We made at least three attempts to reach shelters before deeming them unwilling to speak.   Those that personally refused to respond are listed as such. Shelters were asked to provide either actual or estimated numbers.

We extend our warmest thanks to the officers and county workers who generously shared their time to provide insights, observations and guidance as we sought to understand these issues.   Many officers expressed the desire to see meaningful change for homeless animals in our state and we know they truly meant it.  We thank the Kirkpatrick Foundation for generous funding, and Program Director Paulette Black, Executive Director Louisa McCune and survey coordinator Kristi Wicker for their thoughtful guidance as this survey developed.   Thank you to Spay Oklahoma for support of my role in this endeavor, to the Spay FIRST board for supporting all efforts to help animals that are left out in the cold and to Melanie Anderson for the connections that brought us together.  Last but certainly not least, a very warm thank y ou to Vanessa Wandersee of Mission, SD, a dedicated research assistant who spent countless hours reaching out to shelters and documenting the status of companion animals in Oklahoma.  Her compassion toward animals, and insight about the communities they live in, contributed greatly to this document.

Thank you and we hope you will join us in seeking greater accountability for the lives of homeless pets in Oklahoma.


Ruth Steinberger

[email protected]



Parrots Make Great Pets

posted November 18th, 2013 by
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The PBS Documentary Parrot Confidential Gets it Wrong

Parrots Make Great Pets

Read Allison Argo’s web page titled Speaking. She is not shy about admitting she produces films to motivate change. And while she has the personal right to create such works, members of the American Federation of Aviculture wonder why PBS stations around the country would air a decidedly one‐sided piece.

In 1976, scholar Calvin Pryluck struggled with the ethics of documentary film‐making in an article titled: Ultimately, We Are All Outsiders: The Ethics of Documentary Filmmaking.” Given the technological advances on the horizon, said Pryluck, smaller cameras, lighter equipment, and easy access to subjects, “The acrimony surrounding a controversial film may be good for the box office; it is sometimes questionable for the value for art.”

People have lived with parrots and other avian companions for thousands of years. Martha Washington lived with parrots, as did President Teddy Roosevelt. Whether or not parrots are good pets has more to do with human beings than with parrots. Just as every person is not cut out to be a parent, not every person is destined to own a parrot. There are certain qualities which make good parents or good parrot owners.

The documentary claims the rise of domestic parrot breeding began after the airing of the television show Barretta which ran from 1975 to 1978. That series featured a cockatoo named Fred. The increase of domestic breeding coincided with the U.S. government’s adoption of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) agreement in 1974. This global initiative ‐‐ signed by 178 countries, with Angola agreeing to join by the end of the year – monitors parrot populations worldwide. The wild bird conservation act of 1992 (WBCA) prevents US citizens from commercially importing parrots; this act has stopped the legal importation of wild‐caught parrots destined for the U.S. since late 1991.

Unfortunately, parrots are still poached in some countries for the pet trade. However, U.S. domestic breeding has curtailed the importation of poached parrots to this country.

Note any parrot older than forty years most likely is a wild‐caught parrot and not a domestically bred parrot. And while people can debate what constitutes domestication, parrots bred and hand‐raised know no other life. These parrots thrive on human companionship and could not survive in the wild. Unlike their wild counterparts, parrot companions live in warm homes, get plenty of food and don’t need to worry about predators.

Domestic parrot breeders also do more than breed and sell parrots. These breeders share their unique knowledge and experiences with field biologists, zoos and other organizations monitoring parrots in the wild. Breeders are working to save endangered parrot species.


The American Federation of Aviculture does its part to help people become better stewards of their companion parrots through education and outreach in various communities where members live. On the national level, AFA offers a two‐part course titled The Fundamentals of Aviculture. This course helps parrot owners and potential owners understand the rich history of aviculture in the United States. The course also helps people understand the complex, personal relationships one can develop with a companion parrot.

Should people be prevented from living with domestically bred parrots?

Absolutely not.

Should people act in responsible ways when it comes to electing to live with parrots?


Note: The American Federation of Aviculture (AFA) is a nonprofit national organization established in 1974, whose purpose is to represent all aspects of aviculture and to educate the public about keeping and breeding birds in captivity.
AFA has a membership consisting of bird breeders, pet bird owners, avian veterinarians, pet/bird store owners, bird product manufacturers, and other people interested in the future of aviculture.