General Interest

Reporting Dog Abuse – Citizens Taking Action

posted October 7th, 2014 by
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Citizens

By Wilhelm Murg

 

A few weeks ago, I played a small but important part in an animal abuse investigation;

I brought a gruesome web video to the attention of KOTV News, which broadcast a report about it on local television, and more importantly, put the original uncut video on their website.

 

The KOTV page received over 850 comments, three petitions were started online with one getting over 10,000 signatures, a Facebook community was started over the incident, and the Wagoner County Sherriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office were inundated with calls from concerned citizens.

What I realized from this experience is a tiny amount of effort can get a snowball rolling. I’m a professional journalist and that helped a little in choosing the right words, but ultimately, I was calling people and simply describing a video I witnessed—something anyone can do.

It all started on the morning of Monday, February 3. A disturbing video had been linked on the Joe Station Bark Park Facebook page of three dogs mauling another dog to death in the snow. Whoever filmed it did not seem to try to stop the fight at any point.

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind when you see dogs killing one another is that you are witnessing dog fighting, which is illegal in Oklahoma. The video was originally incorrectly identified as coming from Coweta; it turned out it came from neighboring Bixby.

The video link was posted by a woman justifiably upset by the content. It was going around Facebook, and she posted it on the dog park page to notify someone, anyone, who might know what to do about it.

I called my friend, animal advocate and TulsaPets contributor Ruth Steinberger, who is involved in an ongoing case where someone had dumped dog carcasses in North Tulsa. She was booked solid that day, so she told me to report it to the police, call the animal control officers at the Tulsa Animal Shelter and call the media.

The video was originally posted on the Facebook page of Taylor Given. Given’s girlfriend, Amy Kaye Jacobsen, had commented on the post that the three attacking dogs belonged to her. In the comments section, she had gotten into a series of arguments with outraged people who had seen the video, which was     going viral.

When calling the media or the authorities, it’s important to have a simple narrative; clarity is essential in your description. My narrative was: (a.) I saw this video and in the accompanying comments a woman claimed the three attacking dogs were hers; (b.) Whoever filmed the incident did not seem to attempt to stop it; (c.) I know there are ongoing investigations about dog fighting, and this could be connected to it; (d.) I grew up in the country with a pack of dogs; I’ve owned dogs my whole life, and this never happened. Dogs are survivors by nature; they don’t normally attempt one-against-three suicidal attacks.

You can call the newsroom and sell a reporter on a story, but if the editor doesn’t like it, it gets thrown in the trash. The more media outlets you call, the better chance you have that one of them will be interested in your story.

I called the Tulsa Police Department (thinking the video was made in Tulsa County). They had received other calls, but they were trying to figure out if this was in their jurisdiction. Animal Control and the various news outlets had also received multiple calls. After calling all of the TV stations (except KTUL as I got sidetracked), The Tulsa World and KRMG, I sat back and let them mull it over.

I knew the video would be a double-edged sword; it would get the reporters’ attention because the video is so brutal, but at the same time the content was so violent that it could not be broadcast.

That afternoon I got a call from KOTV reporter Ashlei King. Earlier this year, King had also reported on the dumped dog carcasses (mentioned above). Given gave her an interview, so she wanted me to give my side of the story on-camera for the broadcast.

When I met King, she told me that Given and Jacobsen were now saying that all four dogs were strays and that, for some reason, they only feed three of the four. In the original post, Jacobsen claimed they were her dogs, and contradictions like that, coupled with the video, added fuel to the upcoming fire.

KOTV put the story on their 9 p.m. newscast that evening and posted the entire unedited video on their website. That’s when interest exploded with the petitions and the Facebook page, where they posthumously named the deceased dog “Spirit,” so he would have a name.

It also started an unofficial online investigation by people who were digging through Given’s and Jacobsen’s Facebook and Instagram pages, which were still open for the public. They wisely changed their profiles to private the next day.

While all of this was going on, there were virtual screaming matches going on between Jacobsen and complete strangers via Facebook while people claiming to be friends of the couple were defending their actions on the KOTV commentary section. Obviously the video was going viral, as people from other countries signed the petitions.

Of all the comments, my favorite was from a woman who was very upset with the video, but at the same time she questioned KOTV’s labeling of me as an “animal advocate.”  I “liked” her comment because she hit the nail on the head; I am not a professional “animal advocate.”

I am just a normal citizen who made six or seven telephone calls one morning,  which may have taken 30 minutes out of my day. I saw something that might be criminal and, as my Grandmother taught me when I was a child, I reported it.

I became a member of the Facebook   page, which had to become private due to supporters of Given and Jacobsen trolling the group. People posted questions, asking permission to call the Wagoner Sheriff and the District Attorney about the case. I kept restating that, as citizens, it is their right to call and inquire; they do not need anyone’s permission. Everyone should remember that.

As I look back at the story, I feel the real reason it took off was because there were two videos: the news story and the gruesome original video. The news story promoted the video, so people could read the story and then decide if they wanted to see the original video.

I was amazed that a video as gruesome as this, with footage that many animal rights advocates have attempted to get disseminated, was published by a main-stream TV station on the web before a general audience.

Sadly, for all this effort and attention, no charges were ever brought up. As of this writing, nearly two months since the video was posted, the investigation has gone back and forth between the Wagoner County Sheriff’s Department and the D.A.’s Office, but nothing has happened.

A call to the Wagoner County District Attorney’s Office was not immediately returned. One can only hope that there will be some movement in the near future on  this case.

No matter the outcome of this particular case, it proves everyday citizens’ voices can be heard when they work together. Change must begin somewhere, and simply speaking up is a good starting point.

A Cat Tale – Livin’ the Good Life

posted September 30th, 2014 by
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Cat Tale

by Camille Hulen

 

 

“Hi there! It’s Rio here. That’s me in the first picture, basking under the sunlamp in my ‘beach house’.  At least that’s what Mom calls it. You see, I moved here with my roommate, Oso, last winter when it was very cold outside. Mom set up double adjoining crates on a table in the barn and furnished them with nice, warm beds and heating pads. Sure is lots better than life on the street!”

 

 

“I was found in a shed at an apartment complex where people moved away and left me. I was a pregnant teenage mom when some nice lady found me. She took care of me and found homes for my babies, then got me ‘fixed’ so that wouldn’t happen again.”

 

 

“Oso tells me that another nice lady helped her even more because her situation was worse. She was found with four babies behind a vacant house and was so young that she didn’t know how to care for them. The lady helped feed them and gave her assurance; so much, in fact, that she was able to nurse another orphan.”

 

Unfortunately, this happens all too often. People get a cute little kitten, but care little about it when the novelty wears off. Then circumstances change, so they simply move away and leave it because they cannot afford the pet deposit at the new apartment. Every apartment manager could repeat this story verbatim.

 

Others fail to get veterinary care and let their cat outside because it is crying to get out. Chances are that the cat wants outside because it is a female “in heat.” Many do not realize that a female cat can become pregnant as young as four months of age. Since they didn’t care properly for one cat, they certainly do not care for a litter of kittens either. Hence they are abandoned.

Now back to our story. Rio and Oso were found in different neighborhoods but under similar circumstances. Their plights became known through a network of emails. (Email through personal contacts is the most effective way to rehome rescue cats because shelters are usually full.) Ideally, all of these cats would be placed in loving indoor homes. However, many now prefer life outside, and therefore, make ideal barn cats.

It so happened that Nancy, one person in this network, was looking for barn cats to control the mice in her husband’s shop. She had barn cats in other outbuildings on the ranch, but the cat guardian of this building had died recently. She sought two cats, so they could have the companionship of each other. Rio and Oso should fill the bill.

“Hi! Oso speaking now. I’m the sleek, black little girl with big eyes. The lady who found me called me ‘Hooter’ because my eyes were as big as an owl’s, but Nancy renamed me the minute she saw me. She said that I was ‘oh, so beautiful.’ Hence my name became ‘Oso.’

“I met Rio, formerly called ‘Stripes,’ at Camille’s Cathouse where we were introduced. We were both recovering from our spaying and bunked together in a double cage. I wasn’t sure about Rio at first because she seemed a little rowdy. However, we decided that we were now starting our lives anew, so we might as well be friends. Nancy came to visit us regularly and spoke to us gently, using our new names. Plus, she brought us treats!

“When we first came to our home in the shop, we stayed in our cage (aka: beach house). After we were here for a couple of weeks, Nancy opened the cages at night, so we could explore. What fun!  There are lots of nooks and crannies for mice. Rio is the best hunter, but I help her; we usually bring our prizes to show the people. Mom still feeds us morning and evening, ’cause the cat food has a lot more nutrients than just mice.

“Rio has told you a little about life here. Let me tell you more. When Mom Nancy introduced us to her husband, he talked to us and petted us, and then he went to work. Oh, the noise! He ran these big machines that made a lot of noise, but we knew we were safe. Sometimes he stops work and fires up the grill. Yummy! It has become a tradition to share his lunch with us. Now we just hang out during the day up high, away from the noise, but always come when called.”

This illustrates several things:

 

1. When cats are introduced to the barn, they must be confined in order to learn that this is their new home;

 

2. Give them a comfortable bed to keep them warm;

 

3. Introduce yourself to them gently;

 

4.  Feed them daily, so they know that you are their food source. Cats cannot live healthy lives by mice alone;

 

5. Give them food in small quantities, so they look forward to your next visit;

 

6. Call them by name, so they learn to come when called.

 

“It’s spring now, and Mom opens the door to let us outside during the day. The sun is glorious!  We really don’t need the sunlamps now, but still appreciate our nice soft beds. We stay close to the shop, ’cause that’s our home, but we have gotten to meet some other cats and even horses and dogs.

“We have a special cat door up off the ground that only we can access, so we can come and go during the day, but Mom locks us in at night after she feeds us to keep us safe from all the wild things. Yes, we’re livin’ the good life as barn cats!”

Pet-Friendly Patios in Oklahoma City

posted September 27th, 2014 by
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Pet Friendly Patios

 

These local restaurants welcome your well-behaved pooch on their patios. Enjoy drinks, dinner and the warm spring weather with your pet by your side, but please be a courteous, responsible pet owner, both to your host and other diners.

Be sure to snap a photo of your furry dining companion or even someone else’s and share it with us. We may feature it in an upcoming issue.

S&B Burger Joints
5929 N May – Near North
14020 N May – Far North
20 NW 9th – Midtown
102 W Main St. – Norman
7745 S Walker – Southwest

Jazmo’z Bourbon Street Café
Bricktown
100 E California Ave
Oklahoma City, OK 73104
(405) 232-6666

Earl’s Rib Palace
Bricktown
216 Johnny Bench Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK 73104
(405) 272-9898

Café Do Brasil
Midtown
440 NW 11th St
Oklahoma City, OK 73103
(405) 525-9779

Deep Deuce Grill
Deep Deuce
307 NE 2nd Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73104
(405) 235-9100

Pizza 23
Uptown
600 NW 23rd
Oklahoma City, OK 73103
(405) 601-6161

Urban Wine Works
The Plaza District
1749 NW 16th St
Oklahoma City, OK 73106
(405) 525-9463

Captain Norm’s Dockside Bar
Bricktown
103 E California
Oklahoma City, OK 73104
(405) 600-6092

In the Raw Sushi
Bricktown
200 S Oklahoma #130
Oklahoma City, OK 73104
(405) 702-1325

Rally Around the Pits Motorcycle Rally and Adoption Event

posted September 27th, 2014 by
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Rally Around the Pits, Inc. is a small non-profit organization organized for charitable, humane, and educational purposes, including to educate the public about animal welfare and pet adoption. Our primary fundraising event is a family-friendly motorcycle rally meant to bring people together for the love of motorcycles and dogs, specifically pit bull type dogs. The term “pit bull” is often associated with the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Pit bull type dogs are often vilified in the media. Our goal is to educate the public about these type dogs by creating a family and pet friendly event to show they are just dogs and need a home like any other, while raising awareness and funds for local non-profit animal rescue organizations that specialize in the bully breeds.

Rally Around the Pits Motorcycle Rally and Adoption event is scheduled for Sunday, October 5, 2014 from 10 am to 4 pm at Iron Nation Harley Davidson. Iron Nation Harley Davidson is located at 3433 S. Broadway in Edmond, OK. We have two local animal rescue organizations signed up to be beneficiaries of this year’s event, PitEssentials Rescue, Inc. and Bald and Bully, Inc. We use a mix of vendors, displays, and live music by Mudflap Nichols and the Twisted Spokes to keep people having fun and raising money for dogs in need.

Numerous national and local companies have donated items to our organization for raffle and silent auction. National sponsors include Lowbrow Customs, VNM, Thundershirt, Stella and Chewy’s, and Forever the Chaos Life, while local sponsors include Carey Pet and Home Care, Monster Graphx, Raise Hail, LLC, Quail Tag Agency, SB Body Arts, K9 Konfections, Best Friends Total Pet Care, and Interurban Restaurants. All net proceeds from Rally Around the Pits Motorcycle Rally and Adoption event will be split equally between the participating animal rescue organizations. The money raised goes directly towards the care of the animals in the rescue’s possession while they wait for their forever homes.

Rally Around the Pits, Inc. recognizes all sponsors large or small with several sponsorship levels. For more information, please visit our website, www.rallyaroundthepits.com or Facebook page, www.facebook.com/PitRally. Anyone interested in being involved with this year’s event or future events can call Kelli or Erik White at 405-463-0552 or send us an email at [email protected].

Thank you for your time and consideration. You will find our current flyer attached to this email.

Sincerely,

Kelli White

Ask The Doc

posted September 22nd, 2014 by
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Ask the Doc

By Brad Roach, DVM / Best Friends Animal Clinic, Shawnee

Q: My dog Elmer goes to play school two or three times per week, and he comes home worn out. When he is tired like that and eats dinner, he sits down and eats rather than stand. He eats at an elevated feeder that is up on legs. Is this dangerous for him to sit and eat; could it bring on bloat by chance.

A: I don’t know how old Elmer is, but my first question would be, why is he eating from an elevated feeder in the first place? Some dogs need this if they have weak esophageal muscles that won’t allow proper swallowing.

It is also helpful to use these feeders when there is neck pain. This is not going to hurt him by eating in this position, but I am concerned that he is doing so to take the weight off his hips, and since you mentioned that he might bloat, I would assume that he is a large breed dog that is prone to hip dysplasia.

You might try a session or two of acupuncture for him on a day before the play day to see if that helps and start him on a good glucosamine/ chondroitin sulfate supplement as well.

This will take several weeks to start showing improvement, so keep up the good work and well done on letting your canine friend have the play school.

Q: My old lab has these horrible “growths” on her elbows that I think are called hygromas. They sometimes burst open and bleed and ooze. I’ve tried to wrap them, but since they are on her elbows, nothing stays on good. What can I do to clear these things up?

A: This can be a very difficult thing to treat because they can be infected and even progress on to a bone infection if not handled properly. Well done on trying to bandage the elbow. It is important to study your dog’s habits and what surfaces she is laying on. Sometimes all you need to do is strategically place fluffy bedding.

You might try getting some larger pipe insulation and tape it on the forearm only with Elasticon tape. Many times it helps to bandage with honey, and the laser treatments have been known to help as well.

If the wounds are open, it would be a good idea to have it cultured by your vet so the appropriate antibiotic can be used. This entire process could take up to three months, so hang in there.

Q: My dog has a horribly gross habit—she is a poop eater. She won’t eat her own poop, but eats the poop of my other two dogs, and it’s just disgusting. I have tried everything from getting the stuff to feed the other two to make their poop “undesirable,” to pouring Tabasco on the others’ poop, but nothing works.

Now the only thing I can do is run out and scoop every time there’s more poop, but I can’t always do that with the weather. What can I do?

A: This is definitely a gross topic and hard for us to understand. In fact, it’s not known what really causes this to happen. Some say it is a mineral deficiency, seeking undigested protein or just a bad habit.

I definitely recommend a good source of vitamins and minerals for  the offender as well as adding pro-biotics and enzymes to all dogs of the household. You already mentioned giving the other dogs the Forbid powder, and sometimes that will work.

There have been reports that feeding fresh pineapple and Adolph’s meat tenderizer to the poopers will discourage the eater too. Sometimes adding anise to the food in small quantities can also help.

It also goes without saying, but I will say it anyway: clean up duty is even more important than ever, and for goodness sake, think twice before letting them give you a big doggie kiss on the face!

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 arcokc.org.

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.