General Interest

Animal Cops Tulsa

posted May 15th, 2012 by
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by Nancy Gallimore Werhane

Photos by Bob Foshay

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN episodes of Animal Planet’s Animal Cop? There are versions shot in Houston, Miami, New York and Detroit. Each program shows what appear to be small armies of uni­formed authorities fighting the good fight for animal welfare.

So, what about Animal Cops: Tulsa? Meet Tim Geen, the one-man army working the field for the Tulsa Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TSPCA). Retired from 28 years of mili­tary service, along with the Beaumont Police Department in Texas, Geen ap­propriately found his way into his new job when he rescued two puppies from the side of the highway near the TSPCA shelter. He was an acquaintance of for­mer TSPCA Cruelty Investigator Wade Farnan, who passed away in the spring of 2011. So when he took the pups to the shelter for assistance, he asked if they happened to be hiring. The answer was an enthusiastic “yes!” Eight months later, Geen hasn’t looked back once, and quite frankly, hasn’t had the time.

Having always enjoyed an active life, retirement just wasn’t suiting him. “You can only paint a room in your house and turn around to repaint the same room again the next week so many times,” Geen said with a laugh. “You mow the lawn and then wait for it to grow, so you can mow it again. That just wasn’t for me.” Now it’s a safe bet that Geen’s lawn may no longer be so well manicured. Tulsa’s animal cop, a self-proclaimed dog lover, is on the job before the sun comes up every morning and arrives home after sunset each workday. Geen not only covers Tulsa County but also every bordering county. That means long hours and a lot of miles on the road, as he fields calls for cats and dogs, horses, cattle, goats, rabbits and any animal in need.

The demand for his services is high. Geen fields an average of 100 calls a month for the TSPCA. Of those calls, he says he can generally resolve about 25 of them through phone counsel­ing. That leaves a balance of 75 cases a month that he physically visits. The math alone shows you how busy this man is. During the course of our hour-long interview, his phone rang no fewer than four times.

In addition to fielding calls and travel­ing to check on animals throughout an eight-county region, Geen also care­fully documents each case. While he is not permitted to go directly to the city district attorney (D.A.) to pursue pros­ecution on neglect and abuse cases, his careful documentation has lead to sev­eral cases being prosecuted.

“If I have a case that I feel needs to go to the D.A., I have to take my informa­tion to Tulsa Animal Welfare to pursue through legal channels,” Geen said. “I will work with them and will do any­thing I can to support prosecution if it comes to that.”

In one such case, a man was found guilty of animal abuse for first hanging his dog and then shooting it. Geen was accompanied on the call by the Tulsa police officers who helped him docu­ment the case.

“The owner admitted to shooting the dog, but denied hanging it. Of course, it was a little hard to deny since there was still a hangman’s noose around the de­ceased dog’s neck,” he said. “The case went to court, and the guy received a $150 fine and six months probation. It can be frustrating because you pursue these terrible animal abuse and cruelty cases, yet very little happens. You often see higher fines for traffic violations.”

The most common calls Geen receives are for dogs living on chains and dogs without proper food, water and shelter. He claims that most of those cases can be resolved through counseling owners and conducting careful follow-up calls, though the outcome is not always what he would like to see for the dogs in question. “There is no law in Oklahoma prohibiting people from chaining a dog, and I sure hate to see any animal living like that,” Geen said. “Sometimes, the best I can do is to make sure the dog has shelter and water within reach.”

When asked about the hardest part of his job, Geen thinks for only a moment. Injured and sick animals are obviously high on his list, but from an emotional standpoint, abandoned animals are among the hardest cases he handles. “We see a lot of confused animals—primarily dogs—left behind at rental homes with no one to care for them,” he said. “I will provide the basics for the animal while we wait to see if the owner will return to claim it.” If that doesn’t happen, Geen will remove the dog.

“The hard part is that the TSPCA shelter doesn’t always have room for every abandoned dog. If I can’t bring the dog here, I have to take it to the Tulsa Animal Welfare shelter, and I know it may have to be euthanized there,” explained Geen. The harsh reality he faces in rescuing animals is that space for them is always at a premium, and options are limited.

That means that a good deal of Geen’s time is spent finding solu­tions. “I will make calls and explore all options I can to find assistance or safe placement for an animal.” Geen has even found foster homes willing to care for livestock and has been known to foster dogs in his own home until a permanent home can be found.

For all of the hard cases Geen sees, his joy in helping animals is evident. When I asked him to show me some of the animals he had recently res­cued, his smile was quick; he imme­diately led me to the shelter clinic to visit a litter of chubby, fluffy Rottwei­ler-mix puppies. Holding the largest puppy from the litter as it enthusias­tically licked his face, Geen pointed to an adjacent yard where two other dogs stood watching.

“The big Rottweiler male is their daddy, and that Border Collie standing behind him is their mom. We were able to rescue the whole family,” Geen said with obvious delight. The dogs were removed from a home that had been raided by Tulsa police officers as a sus­pected meth lab.

“I see a lot of sad things—animals that have been injured, abused and neglect­ed. But then I go out and get to save these pups, along with their mom and dad, and it just makes me smile.” Geen is quick to add that all of the pups—now weaned and temporarily housed in quarantine while receiving vaccina­tions—are healthy and should be avail­able for adoption very soon. “Nothing makes me happier,” he said.

Our interview ended abruptly when one of the TSPCA employees tracked us down to give Geen information on a call that had just come in, reporting a horse caught in a fence along the Will Rogers Turnpike. Geen was up, on his phone and headed to his car in an in­stant.

As he took off on yet another case, it was obvious that Geen has found his perfect “retirement” career. “I wouldn’t trade this job for any other job at any price,” he said. “I will keep doing what I’m doing until they run me off—I love my critters.”

Welcome Lauren Cavagnolo

posted May 15th, 2012 by
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TULSAPETS MAGAZINE is excited to announce the addition of a new team member! Lauren Cavagnolo is now blogging her pet blog on TulsaPets­ Her lifelong love of pets combined with her talent with words make for very interesting pet blog re­porting, and we hope you check the website often for her latest pet news. In addition to the blogs, she’ll also be writing for the magazine. Lauren was formerly the Tulsa World’s pet blogger and recently made a career change to a freelance writer. She’s the proud mom of daughter Emily, two dogs, and four cats. Welcome Lauren Cavagnolo!

DEWEY The Small -Town Library Cat Who Touched the World

posted May 15th, 2012 by
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Book Review by Suzanne Gunn

I CAN’T TELL YOU how many times since 2008 when “Dewey” was published that my mother asked me, “Oh, Suzanne, have you read ‘Dewey’? You really should, you will love it!” Even though I’ve always had cats along with dogs, I see myself as more of a dog person than cat person and lean more toward dog books than cat books. I finally sat down to read “Dewey, The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World” by Vicki Myron, and I am so glad that I did.

This is a book that people anywhere can relate to if they’ve had a relationship of any kind with a cat. I especially think anyone who has ties with small town and farming communi­ties will appreciate and relate to this book.

The story of Dewey begins on January 18, 1988. On the coldest day, when opening the library in Spencer, Iowa, a sound is heard coming from the night book drop box. As the librarians investigate and empty the drop box, they find a tiny freezing kitten. Hearts are melted and a love affair en­sues between the library staff and the kitten. Winning over the library board, they are allowed to keep him and start calling him “Dewey” after Melville Dewey, inventor of the Dewey Decimal System.

They soon hold a contest to allow the townsfolk to help name the kitten, and he becomes “Dewey Readmore Books.” It doesn’t take long, and the townspeople fall in love with Dewey, too. People are affected by Dewey in profound ways, amazed at how Dewey seems to know what they need and who needs his attention most!

Word travels to other towns and states and even other countries, and Dewey draws people to the small town of Spencer, Iowa, for a chance to meet Dewey the Cat. Dewey was even featured in a Japanese documentary.

Vicki Myron, the library director at the time who saved Dew­ey that fateful morning, tells the story of Dewey and also shares the story of her own life and lessons she learned along the way.

Her story is one of a young mother married to an alcoholic who gains the courage to leave. Readers can find encour­agement in the single mother working full time and pursuing an advanced education while battling multiple health issues —issues so many of us face in our own lives but don’t always have the courage to talk about or admit.

This is an inspiring book about how people hold up each other and their town, and how even one cat can bring a town together like never before! The book is well written and enjoyable—definitely worth reading! I am going to call my mother now and tell her she was right! Happy reading!

Studio D Cutest Pet Contest 2012

posted May 15th, 2012 by
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STUDIO D PHOTOGRAPHY (formerly Moto Photo) held its annual “Cutest Pet Contest” from January 2 through February 29. Contestants could enter with a $10 or more donation to the Tulsa SPCA, and they received, in turn, a free portrait sitting session and a 5×7 portrait of their pet, plus a chance to be picked as Tulsa’s Cutest Pet! And the best part is all proceeds benefit the Tulsa SPCA.

The winners were chosen March 20 by a panel of three judges: D’Ann Berson, operations director of the Tulsa SPCA; Lori Hall, administrative director of the Tulsa SPCA; and Marilyn King, publisher of TulsaPets Magazine. Of course, all of the entries were “Awww” worthy. But after much deliberation, and with a record number of 92 entries, the winners were selected.

The Top Dog took home $200, with a $100 and $50 prize to second and third places respectively.  Proudly, $731 was donated to the Tulsa SPCA, which will be used for the great cause of helping the animals there.  A big thank you to all who participated to make this long-time annual contest a success once again! Your generosity will help save the lives of many local animals.

Meet the First Cat of Tulsa, Spencer Bartlett

posted May 15th, 2012 by
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by Sherri Goodall

Photos by Sirius Photography

MEET SPENCER BARTLETT, the first cat of Tulsa. But you better not blink; Spencer is fidgeting in the Mayor’s arms dur­ing her photos, and it’s very clear that she’d rather be outta there! The minute her four white paws hit the ground, she’s gone! I didn’t expect her to sit quietly in the chair while we did the interview; after all, she is a cat, and she does what cats do best… whatever they want.

Spencer is a lovely “tuxedo” cat—black with white mark­ings on her chest and white paws. She also has white whis­kers, which are rare.

We wondered how she got the name Spencer, assuming it was a male name. Seventeen years ago (before Mayor Bartlett and his wife, Victoria, were married), Spencer was a shivering kitten stuck in a tree in Newton, Kansas. Victoria was visiting her brother in Newton at the time with her two daughters, one of which (Ann) heard mewing outside during a snowy Thanksgiving night. Ann’s uncle rescued the cat who immediately snuggled into her arms. The bonding between kitten and child began.

The kitten was found on Spencer Street, so now you know the rest of that story. (Incidentally, Victoria grew up on Spen­cer Street). Ann’s new kitten slept in her bed every night until she went away to college. Since the cat had become so com­fortable and accustomed to sleeping in a bed, she now sleeps in the Bartlett’s bed.

This was pure karma… frightened, freezing kitten; Thanks­giving eve; and a child with keen hearing, which brings me to the question I posed to the Mayor: “Does anyone ever buy a cat?” Most cat owners we know are “adopted” by their cats. Spencer was part of the “dowry” when the Mayor and Vic­toria married. Up until then, Spencer had never muttered a “meow.” She purred, but that was it. “When I began to ‘meow’ to Spencer, she became a meowing little motor mouth,” the Mayor said. Still motivated to speak in the comfort of his arms, she was quite vocal during her photo shoot.

As the one who brought about her voice, so to speak, the Mayor and Spencer have a special relationship and routine. She wakes him every day at 4:30 a.m., and they spend the morning together. He likes to watch the news and read the papers in his great room. After Spencer eats, she settles into the Mayor’s lap. When she becomes bored with that, she takes her favorite perch, high above the Mayor on top of a cabinet, overlooking the great room and the chair where he is seated. Victoria says that Spencer has become the Mayor’s buddy, even though he is really a dog person. (Do not tell that to Spencer.)

Growing up, Dewey Bartlett spent a great deal of time on his father’s cattle ranch near Grove, Oklahoma. Border Col­lies became his pets. He tells the story of Harriett, one of the Border Collies that invented a unique sport. She would grab hold of the hairy part of the cow’s tail and plant her four feet while the cow took off. Harriett “water skied” behind the cow until she would emerge in a cloud of dust.

Fast forward to two years ago, the Mayor had to put his be­loved Trooper down, a 12-year-old Golden Retriever. “I want­ed to get another dog,” he says. “But Victoria convinced me that my schedule wouldn’t allow much time with a new dog.” So, Spencer took up the call, and now she and the Mayor are BFFs, (aka: best friends forever).

As a daily witness, Victoria says it truly is a special bond that the Mayor and Spencer share. “It is impossible to ignore the love and affection a cat innately bestows upon its caretaker,” she says. “Ann’s departure to college was in close proximity to the death of the Mayor’s beloved dog, Trooper. In Ann and Trooper’s absence, the Mayor made it his daily task to serve Spencer breakfast. In turn, she showered him with affection. The Mayor often ex­changed barking sounds with Trooper in playful communication. Much to all our surprise, through imitating him, the Mayor, ultimately, taught Spencer to meow. That daily course of commu­nication won this de­voted dog lover over to the world of feline af­fection. The Mayor fre­quently chuckles and says to me, ‘This is one terrific cat.’”

Animal Emergency Ambulance

posted March 15th, 2012 by
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by Stacy Pettit

Dr. Troy McNamara is well versed when it comes to giving advice. After all, as a veterinarian and co-owner of the Animal Emergency Center, giving advice to pet owners is part of his job description. However, in the past, when pet owners transported their ill loved ones between their primary veterinarian and the Animal Emergency Center for nighttime care, McNamara was giving advice that just seemed foolish—drive as quickly as possible.

“That’s asinine,” says McNamara, who has worked at the Animal Emergency Center for 15 years. “After all these years of watching this, why not just have an ambulance where we can make runs and have oxygen and all the necessary equipment on board. We can have a veterinarian or a registered technician physically back in the treatment area of that vehicle driving down the road administering care.”

This past fall, McNamara’s idea got the green light as he decided to alleviate the anxiety for pet owners and pets alike with the addition of the Animal Emergency Center’s pet ambulance. Now, the center can regularly transport owners’ four-legged friends from vet offices to the center for surveillance and care.

“This is an easy and convenient way to transport sick or critically injured animals from the veterinarian clinic to the emergency room while taking that burden off the owner,” McNamara says.

He says the pet ambulance is not just a tool to ensure the safety of the animal. The new addition to the clinic eases the anxiety for veterinarians as well. In many instances, pets are left overnight at a vet’s office when they need to be monitored at a 24-hour clinic. Sometimes, veterinarians have to take cases to their personal homes to care for the animals at night.

“It doesn’t make sense when you have a staffed emergency room,” McNamara says.

And the ambulance is ready for any kind of medical situation. It is equipped with everything an ill or critically injured pet could need, including oxygen, defibrillators and monitors for blood pressure. But in many situations, it is the affection of a vet tech stationed in the back to calm the nerves of an already anxious animal that makes the biggest impact, he says.

With the new ambulance program still in its infancy, McNamara says the current list of veterinarian offices utilizing the service is small. However, the ambulance is available to all veterinarians, and he hopes to see his list of clients grow throughout Tulsa and the surrounding areas.

Currently, the cost rate for the ambulance service is based on the distance traveled and the severity of the animal’s condition. Even with the additional cost, owners are willing to do whatever they need to ensure the health and safety of their four-legged loved ones. And McNamara is pleased to be able to offer owners that extra care, working toward the goal of returning to them a healthy pet.

“I am proud to offer the service,” McNamara says. “I believe it elevates the quality of care that we as an emergency and trauma center can offer to the Tulsa pet owners.”